Author: thestud

Changing China: the evolving Chinese dialects [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2004-8-26 16:52:14 |Display all floors

re: And, the Malay language is supposed to have TE for tea.

First, it's spelt "TEH".

The Indonesians and Malays copied from the Chinese immigrants from Xiamen (most likely). Make a trip to Indonesia especially and you will see 99% of the 5 million Chinese Indonesians there have ancestors from Xiamen (or villages around it).

Other words the Malays/Indonesians borrow from outsiders (and guess what they are)
1) kopi
2) kacuak
3) roti
4) kantor
5) hospital
6) tao-cheo
7) pao
8) pen/pensil
9) kicap
10) epal

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Post time 2004-8-29 07:01:35 |Display all floors

Southern Chinese

(from )

The earliest records mentioned that the Chinese began to settle in the south eastern region of China from the Han dynasty (206BC - 220AD) onwards.


These are residents of southern Fujian in the Quan-Zhang region. Geographically, this area centres around the southern coastal part of Fujian province. See map. In Ta!wan, where the main dialect spoken is Hokkien. The main towns and cities are Xiamen (or Amoy), Zhangzhou, Quanzhou, Anhai, Shishi, Tong'an, and Jimei. Xiamen, the biggest city in this area, sits on the mouth of Jiulong Jiang (or Jiulong River).

Fujian was also the last port of call from which Admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho) launched his seven naval expeditions (under the instructions of the second Ming emperor Yongle) to SE Asia and westward to the shores of India, Arabia, and Africa between 1405 and 1433.

The Hokkiens are the most numerous of all the Chinese groups. They predominate in countries, such as the Philippines (history of migration since 1300s), Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia (in areas such as Penang).


Also known as Chaozhou (in Hanyu Pinyin) or Chiuchow (pronounced in Cantonese and term used in Hong Kong). The term 'Teochew' or 'Teochiu' came from the name of an ancient riverside city of Chaozhou that used to be a major port in that region. The Teochews constitute the second largest Chinese dialect group in SE Asia.

Today, the region in North-east Guandong Province that is populated by the Teochews is referred to as the Chaoshan (or the 'mountains of Chao') region. Another term (though less commonly used in English literature but found in Chinese literature) for Teochews is 'Chaoshan people'. Remember that linguistically, the dialect group of the Teochews is Chaoshan.
Beginning with the Tang dynasty in the ninth century till the Ming dynasty in the fifteen century, the Hokkien-speaking people began to migrate from present day southern Fujian province and occupied the fertile coastal region of eastern Guandong province. Over time, the Hokkien dialect used by these migrants evolved into the Teochew tongue that we know today, although some resemblance could still be discerned. This also explained why the Teochew dialect is linguistically part of the Minnan subgroup; to which Hokkien also belongs.

In terms of size, the Chaoshan region is about 100 miles (220 km) lengthwise and about 50 miles (110 km) at its width. See map with the major towns and cities indicated. The city of Chaozhou (which still exists today) has since been overshadowed by the coastal port city of Shantou (or Swatow).

Shantou is about 20 miles (43 km) from Chaozhou City, 170 miles NE of Guangzhou and only 38 miles to the Fujian border. This city has a relatively short history and was officially founded in 1861 and is today part of the Shantou Special Economic Zone (SEZ).

Besides the two cities just mentioned, other major towns are Chaoan, Miancheng (or Chaoyang), Chenghai (where the international airport is situated), Hepo (Jiexi), Huicheng (Huilai), Jieyang, Puning, and Huanggang (Raoping).

The three Fujian cities, namely, Nanzhao (Zhaoan), Yunxiao, Dongshan (Jiudongshan), indicated in the map, are some of the Teochew-speaking places in Fujian province. These places also prefer to watch the Teochew version (as opposed to the Hokkien version) of Chinese opera. Collectively, the people from this region is sometimes referred to as the Zhaoan people (from the city of Nanzhao).

Weatherwise, the Chaoshan region is warm and moist, with an annual average temperature of 20 - 21deg C. The typhoon season comes in the Jul - Sep period.

A word of advice if you were to explore the Teochew region: do not expect an uniform Teochew dialect spoken in the area. There are a number of Teochew variants (each peculiar to each sub-region or county), with sometimes vastly different pronunciations for the same word and different degrees of 'pekness' (a measure of tonal difference) for the same word. The Teochew variant spoken around the Shantou area is, I understand the de facto standard. Of course, this variant is considered by Shantou residents to be the most 'pek'.

The Teochew culture has its own distinct traditions (one example is visiting friends and relatives during Lunar New Year and greeting them with a pair of mandarin oranges), foods, and art forms (of which Teochew opera is one of them). When it comes to food, Teochew desserts come to mind.
Traditionally, Teochews has a fondness for sweet desserts, such as cheng tng (in Teochew this means clear soup and contains lotus seed among its many ingredients), tau suan (de-skinned green beans in a starchy solution), oh ni (yam paste and sometimes cooked with fried onion slices to give it a rich aroma), mua chi (flour paste eaten with grind peanuts), etc. Other distinct food traditions are steamed fish (of various kinds and without any garnishing and eaten with a bean paste sauce), drinking clear soups (unlike the Cantonese version which includes soups boiled for many hours), snacks, etc.

As a people, the Teochews are great tea-drinkers. This has been the culture of the Teochews for hundreds of years. The version of tea is called kung-fu tea. It has nothing to do with the martial arts but simply describes that it takes some skills to prepare the drink. The accepted manner to drink this tea is do so from small tea cups, similar to the form used in Teochew restaurants. In traditional Teochew restaurants, this tea is served once before and once after all dishes are served. But in the Teochew area in China, tea or kung-fu tea is drank almost everywhere. Every home will have a tea set and guests are served (you guessed it) the kung-fu tea. Even in offices, this form of tea is served as a gesture of hospitality.

Major Chinese dialect group in Thailand and Cambodia. In Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam, Teochews formed the second major Chinese dialect group. Since I am from Singapore, I was able to compare the Teochew spoken in Singapore with that spoken in Shantou. And I must report that they are similar. One should note that Shantou and its surrounding areas supply most of the migrants to SE Asia, including Singapore.


The people of the Pearl River delta and Guangzhou are often classified as Cantonese. In reality, the region is home to a number of dialects under the Yue speech group, of which urban Cantonese (the form found in the city of Guanzhou and its vicinity) is one of them.  

The best known areas are the Three Districts (Sam Yap) and the Four Districts (Sze Yap). Note that the terms 'Sam Yap' ('Sam' meaning 'three') and 'Sze Yap' ('Sze' meaning 'four') are Cantonese-speak. Geographically, both areas are situated west of Guangzhou. Sam Yap (the better-endowed counties around Guangzhou) is bounded by Shiqiao (Panyu), Nanhai, and Daliang (Shunde).

Sze Yap (which is further west of Sam Yap) is the area marked by Encheng (Enping), Taicheng (Taishan), Xinhui, and Sanbu (Kaiping) (see map). Most migrants to SE Asia hailed from the Sze Yap region.

The majority of Chinese in Vietnam are Cantonese speakers. This is of course, due in part, to the proximity of Vietnam (particularly the northern part of Vietnam) to Guangdong province in south China. Kuala Lumpur (capital city of Malaysia) is also dominated by Cantonese, explaining the prevalent use of Cantonese over Malaysian broadcast media. However, some of the Kuala Lumpur (KL) residents, while speaking Cantonese, could in fact be Hakkas. The Hakkas were the founding fathers of KL but were later outnumbered by the Cantonese. Many of these Hakkas married Cantonese wives. This explained why the KL Hakkas speak Cantonese. So, the next time you meet a KL Hakka in his 20s or 30s, try finding out his family background. Chances are that his mother is Cantonese and he probably couldn't utter a word of Hakka (no offence intended).


also known as Kechia (in Hanyu Pinyin) or Khek. Kechia and Khek are variants of the word 'guest people' in Chinese. Interestingly, the usage of the term 'Hakka' was not heard before the 20th century.

Hakkas are found today in parts fo Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, and Ta!wan and in pockets in the Chinese provinces of Sichuan, Hunan, Guangxi, Yunnan, and Hainan island. The Hakkas of Fujian and Guangdong migrated to southern China in two separate waves: during the tenth century and between the twelfth and thirteen centuries. By the time the Hakkas reached these areas, the coastal areas (which were flat and fertile) were already occupied by the Hokkiens and Teochews.

Today, the Hakkas formed the fourth largest Chinese dialect group in SE Asia. This group enjoyed an influence far beyond their numbers and many Hakkas had achieved eminence whenever they ventured.

Examples are Dr Sun Yat Sen (father of modern China), Lee Kuan Yew (Prime Minister of Singapore from 1965 - 1991), Teng Xiao Ping (the late Chinese leader who led China through its economic transformation from 1978), Lee Teng Hui (the former Ta!wanese President), Yap Ah Loy (a prominent Chinese leader in 19th century colonial Kuala Lumpur).

On the right is the grand ancestral home of Wong Yoon Fee (see picture on left; note the public service medals seen in picture which were awarded by the then colonial government), born in Meixian county in 1865, who made his fortunes in Singapore and Malaya. In 1878, Wong set sail for Singapore. Before the age of 30, he opened a hotel called Xing Chang Long in Singapore's Amoy Street. Yoon Fee went from hotels to shipping and property in Singapore and Johor (southern Malay Peninsula) at the turn of the century. He left a S$37 million estate, after some lands were sold in Johor in 1994. What made this story interesting was his will: only grandsons or great-grandsons could benefit and they could claim the money only 20 years after all his four wives had died. Eventually, some of the claimants (farmers in China and now in their 60s) had to convince the Singapore's High Court that they were indeed Mr Wong's grandsons. For a more comprehensive report, you may wish to refer to the October 8 2000 copy of Singapore's Sunday Times.


The original inhabitants of Hainan island were the Li tribe. When the Han Dynasty's Emperor Han Wu Ti launched the first attempt to conquer the island in 111 BC, the tribe was pushed back to the central mountains of the island. Han Chinese gradually came to settle.

In ancient times, the island was a place where disgraced officials and political exiles were banished to for the rest of their lives. Over numerous generations, settlers in search of a better life and refugees from war and famine from the nearby Fukien and Guangdong provinces came and assimilated themselves to form a distinct dialect group. This explained why the Hainanese dialect is linguistically part of the Min speech group; to which the Fujian dialects and Teochew also belong. No prizes for guessing which group of settlers dominated.


Referred to also as Foochow (or Fuzhou). Named after the main city of Fuzhou, which sits on the mouth of Minjiang (or Min River). The dialect of the people living in Fuzhou and surrounding regions. The Hokchiu dialect is a member of the Eastern Min speech subgroup.

The major Chinese dialect group in the city of Sibu (Sarawak, East Malaysia) and will celebrate in 2001 the centenary of their ancestors' emigration to Sarawak. In Singapore, the Hokchius tended to be coffee-shop owners and dominate the trade. Since the Hokchius were familiar with city life, they adapted well to urban areas.  


A minority Fujian dialect and is centred around Chengxiang (Putian), Xianyou, and Hanjiang. See map under Hokchius. Henghwa (or Henghua) is a member of the Min speech group.

Together with the Hokchias (the people further north), this group started off as ricksaw pullers in Singapore. The Henghwas and Hokchias originate from these relatively less well-developed areas and hence, started their life as migrants at the bottom of the social ladder.


A minority Fujian dialect whose speakers lived in the area sandwiched between the Hokchius and Henghwas. It is centered around the town of Fuqing. The city of Fuqing is one of the 10 districts or counties in the province under the jurisdiction of the provincial capital, Fuzhou. See map under Hokchius. The Hokchia dialect, like Hokchiu, is a member of the Eastern Min speech subgroup.

Together with the Henghwas, this group started off as ricksaw pullers in Singapore. Later, many of them entered the public transport industry. From the 1950s to the early 70s, the owners of bus companies such as Hock Lee, Green Bus, and Tay Koh Yat were Hockchias. Some 30,000 Chinese Singaporeans are Hockchias. The Singapore Futsing (Fuqing) Association, which was setup in 1910, has 1,200 members. The association recently (Oct/Nov 2000) organised an international beauty pageant, said to be the first to be held by a Chinese clan association in Singapore.

The founder of the Salim Group in Indonesia, Liem Sioe Liong (also known by his Indonesian name, Sudono Salim) is a Hockchia. He left Fuqing penniless in 1937 for Kudus, a county of Java. Liem Sioe Liong was the leading Chinese tycoon in Indonesia. He had amassed great wealth and achieved more than little notoriety in Suharto's Indonesia. His Indonesianised name is Sudono Salim and his business empire is known as the Empire Group. Liem owed his present control over the the various industrial sectors to Suharto. It is argued that Suharto's close, trusting relationship with Liem was one important explanation for the latter's success in business. Liem Sioe Liong then 21 years old, arrived in Central Java. He was all but penniless. As a petty trader, he sold peanuts, cloves, bicycle parts and myriad other products, much of it on credit. Liem gained profits and some important contacts in the 1940s by selling clothes, medicine, soap, food and military supplies to the nationalist forces. In the 1950s, he became an important supplier to the army's prestigious Diponegoro division headquartered in Semarang, Central Java. The division's chief supply and financial officer and later in the decade its commander was Lieutenant Colonel Suharto. Suharto evidently trusted Liem and was comfortable with his low profile manner. Apart from forming this one crucial relationship, however, Liem's business history prior to the mid-1960s is undistinguished. Liem's trading activities grew and allegedly extended into smuggling cloves and sugar. He started some small manufacturing operations making nails and textiles and moved his headquarters to Jakarta. By the mid-1960s Liem was a passably successful Chinese entrepreneur but not especially well known. However, Suharto's ascension to power changed that. (text obtained from Bank Central Asia, the biggest private bank in Indonesia, was once controlled by Liem Sioe Liong.

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Post time 2004-8-29 23:09:12 |Display all floors

to: thestud

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Post time 2004-8-30 09:32:11 |Display all floors

To Gaytnbia (be proud of who you are!!)

How not to be insulted on the CD forum:

Quit insulting our culture and our history with your ignorant analogies such as Qin's unification was the same as the war of greed currently ongoing in Iraq.

Quit insulting our country and our govt by your assertion that Ta!wan was not part of China.

Quit insulting our country and our govt by your  assertion that ethnic minorities in China were mistreated.


Well, you got the idea.

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Post time 2004-8-30 15:11:38 |Display all floors

To thestud

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Post time 2004-8-30 16:15:30 |Display all floors

to "gtnbia":

"I don't go for the whole "gay pride" thing." ---- some is already worst. there is no room for the "whole thing". give your fantacy up in China.

"criticism" is criticism". "insult" is insult".

the posts you placed on CD are insults, untrue. don't mix them up with "criticism".

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Post time 2004-8-30 16:42:52 |Display all floors


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