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Penang Hokkien
檳城/庇能福建話
Pin-siânn/Pī-néeng Hok-kiàn-uā (Tâi-lô)
Pin-siâⁿ/Pī-nɛ́ng Hok-kiàn-ōa (POJ)
Native toMalaysia
RegionPenang, parts of Kedah, Perak and Perlis
Latin (Modified Tâi-lô & Pe̍h-ōe-jī, ad hoc methods)
Chinese Characters (Traditional)
Chinese characters and Imji (Hangeul) mixed script
Imji (Hangeul) script
Language codes
ISO 639-3hbl is proposed[1] for "Bân-lâm" (Hokkien) which emcompasses a variety of Hokkien dialects including "Penang-Medan Hokkien"[2]
GlottologNone
Linguasphere79-AAA-jek
Penang Hokkien
Traditional Chinese檳城福建話
Tâi-lôPin-siânn Hok-kiàn-uā
Alternative name
Traditional Chinese庇能福建話
Tâi-lôPī-néeng Hok-kiàn-uā
A Penang Hokkien speaker, recorded in Malaysia.

Penang Hokkien (traditional Chinese: 檳城福建話; simplified Chinese: 槟城福建话; Tâi-lô: Pin-siânn Hok-kiàn-uā; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: Pin-siâⁿ Hok-kiàn-ōa, [pin˦ɕã˨˦ hoʔ˦kiɛn˧˩ua˧]) is a local variant of Hokkien spoken in Penang, Malaysia. It is spoken as a mother tongue by 63.9% of Penang's Chinese community,[3] and also by some Penangite Indians and Penangite Malays.[4]

It was once the lingua franca among the majority Chinese population in Penang, Kedah, Perlis and northern Perak. However, since the 1980s, many young speakers have shifted towards Malaysian Mandarin, under the Speak Mandarin Campaign in Chinese-medium schools in Malaysia, even though Mandarin was not previously spoken in these regions.[5][6][7][4][8] Mandarin has been adopted as the only language of instruction in Chinese schools and, from the 1980s to mid-2010s, the schools had rules to penalize students and teachers for using non-Mandarin varieties of Chinese.[9]

Penang Hokkien is a subdialect of Zhangzhou (漳州; Tsiang-tsiu) Chinese, with widespread use of Malay and English loanwords. Compared to dialects in Fujian (福建; Hok-kiàn) province, it most closely resembles the variety spoken in the district of Haicang (海滄; Hái-chhng) in Longhai (龍海; Liông-hái) county and in the districts of Jiaomei (角美; Kak-bí) and Xinglin (杏林; Hēng-lîm) in neighbouring Xiamen (廈門; Ēe-muî) prefecture.[citation needed] In Southeast Asia, similar dialects are spoken in the states bordering Penang (Kedah, Perlis and northern Perak), as well as in Medan and North Sumatra, Indonesia. It is markedly distinct from Southern Peninsular Malaysian Hokkien and Taiwanese Hokkien.

Orthography

Penang Hokkien is largely a spoken language: it is rarely written in Chinese characters, and there is no official standard romanisation. In recent years, there has been a growing body of romanised Penang Hokkien material; however, topics are mostly limited to the language itself such as dictionaries and learning materials. This is linked to efforts to preserve, revitalise and promote the language as part of Penang's cultural heritage, due to increasing awareness of the loss of Penang Hokkien usage among younger generations in favour of Mandarin and English. The standard romanisation systems commonly used in these materials are based on Tâi-lô and Pe̍h-ōe-jī (POJ), with varying modifications to suit Penang Hokkien phonology.

A Char Koay Teow stall. An example of how a Penangite writes Penang Hokkien using ad hoc methods.
A Char Koay Teow stall. An example of how a Penangite writes Penang Hokkien using ad hoc methods.

The Hokkien Language Association of Penang (Persatuan Bahasa Hokkien Pulau Pinang; 庇能福建話協會) is one such organisation which promotes the language's usage and revitalisation. Through their Speak Hokkien Campaign they promote a Tâi-lô based system modified to suit the phonology of Penang Hokkien and its loanwords. This system is used throughout this article and its features are detailed below.

The Speak Hokkien Campaign also promotes the use of traditional Chinese characters derived from recommended character lists for written Hokkien published by Taiwan's Ministry of Education.

Most native-speakers are not aware of these standardised systems and resort to ad hoc methods of romanisation based on English, Malay and Pinyin spelling rules. These methods are in common use for many proper names and food items, e.g. Char Kway Teow (炒粿條 Tshá-kúe-tiâu). These spellings are often inconsistent and highly variable with several alternate spellings being well established, e.g. Char Koay Teow. These methods, which are more intuitive to the average native-speaker, are the basis of non-standard romanisation systems used in some written material.

Phonology

Consonants

Initials
Bilabial Labiodental Alveolar Postalveolar Velar Glottal
Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless Voiced Voiceless
Nasal m [m]
名 (miâ)
n [n]
爛 (nuā)
ng [ŋ]
硬 (ngēe)
Stop Unaspirated p [p]
比 (pí)
b [b]
米 (bí)
t [t]
大 (tuā)
d [d]
煎蕊 (tsian-doi)
k [k]
教 (kàu)
g [g]
牛 (gû)
Aspirated ph [pʰ]
脾 (phî)
th [tʰ]
拖 (thua)
kh [kʰ]
扣 (khàu)
Affricate Unaspirated ts [ts]
姊 (tsí)
j [dz]
字 (jī)
Aspirated tsh [tsʰ]
飼 (tshī)
Fricative f [f]
sóo-fá
s [s]
時 (sî)
sh [ʃ]
古申 (kú-shérn)
h [h]
喜 (hí)
Lateral l [l]
賴 (luā)
Approximant r [ɹ]
ríng-gǐt
Finals
Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Nasal consonant -m [m]
暗 (àm)
-n [n]
安 (an)
-ng [ŋ]
紅 (âng)
Stop consonant -p [p̚]
答 (tap)
-t [t̚]
殺 (sat)
-k [k̚]
角 (kak)
-h [ʔ]
鴨 (ah)
Syllabic consonant
Bilabial Velar
Nasal m [m̩]
毋 ()
ng [ŋ̍]
霜 (sng)

Vowels

Monophthongs
Front Back
Simple Nasal Simple Nasal
Close i [i]
伊 (i)
inn [ĩ]
圓 (înn)
u [u]
有 (ū)
Close-Mid e [e]
會(ē)
o [o]
蠔 (ô)
Open-Mid ee [ɛ]
下 (ēe)
enn [ɛ̃]
嬰 (enn)
oo [ɔ]
烏 (oo)
onn [ɔ̃]
嗚 (onn)
Open a [a]
亞 (a)
ann [ã]
餡 (ānn)
Diphthongs & Triphthongs
Diphthong Triphthong
ai [ai]
愛 (ài)
ia [ia]
椰 ()
io [io]
腰 (io)
iu [iu]
油 ()
ua [ua]
話 ()
iau [iau]
枵 (iau)
au [au]
後 (āu)
ia [iɛ]
燕 (n)*
ioo [iɔ]
娘 (niôo)*
ui [ui]
為 ()
ue [ue]
鍋 (ue)
uai [uai]
歪 (uai)
Non-native vowels (used in loanwords)
Tâi-lô IPA Example Note
er [ə] ber-lian Occurs in Quanzhou accented varieties of Hokkien such as those spoken in Southern Malaysia and Singapore.
Used in Malay and English loanwords.
y [y] 豬腸粉
tsý-tshiông-fân
Used in Cantonese loanwords, may be pronounced as ⟨i⟩.
ei [ei] 無釐頭
môu-lêi-thāu
Used in Cantonese loanwords.
eoi [ɵy] 濕濕碎
sa̋p--sa̋p--sêoi
An alternate pronunciation of ⟨ue⟩ due to Cantonese influence.
Used in Cantonese loanwords, may be pronounced as ⟨ue⟩.
oi [ɔi] 煎蕊
tsian-doi
Used in Malay, Cantonese and Teochew loanwords.
Replaces ⟨ol⟩ in Malay loanwords, e.g. botol (瓿瓵 bo̍t-toi), cendol (煎蕊 tsian-doi).
ou [ou] 大佬
tāi-lôu
Used in Cantonese and Teochew loanwords.

Rhymes

Vowel(s) Open Nasal Plosive
[-] [◌̃] [m] [n] [ŋ] [p̚] [t̚] [k̚] [ʔ]
[a] a
ann am
an
ang
ap
at
ak
ah
[ai] ai
ainn aih
[au] au auh
[e] e eng
ek
eh
[ɛ] ee enn em* en* eeng* et* eek* eeh
[ə] er* ern* ert* erh*
[ei] ei*
[i] i
inn im
in
ing* ip
it
ik* ih
[ia] ia iann iam
iang
iap iak iah
[iɛ] ian
iat
[iau] iau iaunn
[io] io ioh
[iɔ] ioo* ionn iong iok
[iu] iu
Vowel(s) Open Nasal Plosive
[-] [◌̃] [m] [n] [ŋ] [p̚] [t̚] [k̚] [ʔ]
[o] o um* ung* uk* oh
[ɔ] oo onn om on* ong ot* ok ooh
[ɔi] oi*
[ou] ou*
[u] u un ut uh
[ua] ua uann uan uang* uat uah
[uai] uai uainn
[ue] ue ueh
[ui] ui uinn
[y] y* yn*
[ɵy] eoi*
[m̩] m
[ŋ̍] ng

Tones

In Penang Hokkien, the two Departing tones (3rd & 7th) are virtually identical, and may not be distinguished except in their sandhi forms. Most native speakers of Penang Hokkien are therefore only aware of four tones in unchecked syllables (high, low, rising, high falling), and two Entering tones (high and low) in checked syllables. In most systems of romanisation, this is accounted as seven tones altogether. The tones are:

Penang Hokkien tones[10]
Upper/Dark (陰) Lower/Light (陽)
No. Name TL Contour Sandhied No. Name TL Contour Sandhied
Level (平) 1 陰平
im-pêng
a [˦˦] (44) [˨˩] (21) 5 陽平
iông-pêng
â [˨˧] (23) [˨˩] (21)
Rising (上) 2 上聲
siōng-siann
á [˥˧] (53) [˦˦] (44)
[˦˦˥] (445)
Departing (去) 3 陰去
im-khì
à [˨˩] (21) [˥˧] (53) 7 陽去
iông-khì
ā [˨˩] (21) [˨˩] (21)
[˦˦] (44)
Entering (入) 4 陰入
im-ji̍p
a◌ [˧ʔ] (3) [˦ʔ] (4) 8 陽入
iông-ji̍p
a̍◌ [˦ʔ] (4) [˧ʔ] (3)
Note Entering tones (4 & 8) only occur in closed syllables where ◌ represents either -p, -t, -k, or -h.


The names of the tones no longer bear any relation to the tone contours. The (upper) Rising (2nd) tone has two variants in Penang Hokkien, a high falling tone [˥˧] (53) and a high rising tone [˦˦˥] (445). The high falling tone [˥˧] (53) is more common among the older generations while in the younger generations there has been a shift towards the use of the high rising tone [˦˦˥] (445). When the 3rd tone is sandhied to the 2nd tone, the high falling variant [˥˧] (53) is used, however some speakers may sandhi the 3rd tone to the 1st tone [˦] (44).[10] As in Amoy and Zhangzhou, there is no lower Rising (6th) tone.

Tone sandhi

Like in other Minnan dialects, the tone of a syllable in Penang Hokkien depends on where in a phrase or sentence the relevant syllable is placed. For example, the word 牛 in isolation is pronounced with an ascending tone, [˨˧] (23), but when it combines with a following syllable, as in 牛肉 gû-bah, it is pronounced with a low tone, [˨˩] (21).

1st 7th 5th
2nd 3rd
↑ (if -h) ↑ (if -h)
4th ↔ (if -p,-t,-k) 8th

The rules which apply when a syllable is placed in front of a connected syllable in standard Minnan, simply put, are as follows:

Checked syllables (-h):

Checked syllables (-p,-t,-k):

Although the two departing tones (3rd & 7th) are virtually identical in Penang Hokkien, in their sandhi forms they become [˥˧] (53) and [˨˩] (21) and are thus easily distinguishable.

The "tone wheel" concept does not work perfectly for all speakers of Penang Hokkien.[11]

Minnan and Mandarin tones

There is a reasonably reliable correspondence between Hokkien and Mandarin tones:

Words with Entering tones all end with ⟨-p⟩, ⟨-t⟩, ⟨-k⟩ or ⟨-h⟩ (glottal stop). As Mandarin no longer has any Entering tones, there is no simple corresponding relationship for the Hokkien 4th and 8th tones, e.g. 國 kok/guó, but 發 huat/. The tone in Mandarin often depends on what the initial consonant of the syllable is (see the article on Entering tones for details).

Literary and colloquial pronunciations

Hokkien has not been taught in schools in Penang since the establishment of the Republic of China in 1911, when Mandarin was made the Chinese national language. As such, few if any people have received any formal instruction in Hokkien, and it is not used for literary purposes. However, as in other variants of Min Nan, most words have both literary and colloquial pronunciations. Literary variants are generally eschewed in favour of colloquial pronunciations, e.g. 大學 tuā-o̍h instead of tāi-ha̍k, though literary pronunciations still appear in limited circumstances, e.g.:

Unlike in China, Taiwan, and the Philippines, the literary pronunciations of numbers higher than two are not used when giving telephone numbers, etc.; e.g. 二五四 jī-gōo-sì instead of jī-ngóo-sù.

Differences from other Minnan dialects

Although Penang Hokkien is based on the Zhangzhou dialect, which in many cases result from the influence of other Minnan dialects.

General pronunciation differences can be shown as below:

Penang Hokkien Amoy Hokkien Zhangzhou Dialect Example
8th tone [˦] (4) 8th tone [˦] (4) 8th tone [˩˨] (12)
-e -ue -e
-ee -e -ee hêe
-enn -inn -enn senn
-iaunn / -ionn -iunn -ionn siāunn
-iong / -iang -iong -iang siong
-u -i -i
-ue -e -ue hué
-ua -ue -ua
-uinn -ng -uinn suinn
j- l- j- ji̍p

Loanwords

Due to Penang's linguistic and ethnic diversity, Penang Hokkien is in close contact with many other languages and dialects which are drawn on heavily for loanwords.[12] These include Malay, Teochew, Cantonese and English.

Malay

Like other dialects in Malaysia and Singapore, Penang Hokkien borrows heavily from Malay, but sometimes to a greater extent than other Hokkien dialects, e.g.:

Penang Hokkien Malay Taiwanese Hokkien Definition Note
ān-ting anting 耳鉤
hīnn-kau
earring
bā-lái balai polis 警察局
kíng-tshat-kio̍k
police station
bā-lu
峇魯
baru 拄才
tú-tsiah
new(ly), just now
bān-san
萬山
bangsal 菜市仔
tshài-tshī-á
market see also: pá-sat (巴剎)
báng-kû bangku 椅條
í-liâu
stool
bá-tû
礣砥
batu 石頭
tsio̍h-thâu
stone
bēr-liân berlian 璇石
suān-tsio̍h
diamond
bī-nā-tang binatang 動物
tōng-bu̍t
animal 禽獸 (khîm-siù) is also frequently used.
gā-tái gatal
tsiūnn
itchy
gēr-lí/gî-lí
疑理
geli
ònn
creepy; hair-raising
jiám-bân
染蠻
jamban 便所
piān-sóo
toilet
kan-nang-tsû/kan-lang-tsû
蕳砃薯
kentang 馬鈴薯
má-lîng-tsû
potato
kau-în/kau-îng
交寅
kahwin 結婚
kiat-hun
marry
kí-siân kesian 可憐
khó-liân
pity
lām-peng lampin 尿帕仔
jiō-phè-á
diaper
lô-ti
羅知
roti 麵包
mī-pau
bread
ló-kun
老君
dukun 醫生
i-seng
doctor
lui
duit
tsînn
money
má-ná
嘛哪
mana tang-sî; 啥物時陣
siánn-mih-sî-tsūn
as if; since when?
mā-nek manik 珠仔
tsu-á
bead
má-tâ
馬打
mata-mata 警察
kíng-tshat
police
pá-sat
巴剎
pasar 菜市仔
tshài-tshī-á
market see also: bān-san (萬山)
pīng-gang pinggang
io
waist
pún
呠/僨
pun
also
lā-sa rasa 感覺
kám-kak
to feel
sá-bûn
雪文
sabun 茶箍
tê-khoo
soap Other varieties of Hokkien including some Taiwanese varieties also use 雪文 (sá-bûn)
sâm-pá
儳飽
sampah 糞埽
pùn-sò
garbage
sa-iang
捎央
sayang
ài
to love; what a pity
som-bong sombong 勢利
sè-lī
snobbish
su-kā/su-kah
私合
suka
ài
to like
tá-hān
扙捍
tahan 忍耐
lím-nāi
endure
ta-pí
焦比/逐比
tapi 但是/毋過
tān-sī/m̄-koh
but
to-lóng
多琅
tolong 鬥相共
tàu-sann-kāng
help 鬥相共 (tàu-sann-kāng) is also frequently used.
tong-kat
杖楬
tongkat 枴仔
kuái-á
walking stick
tsi-lā-kā celaka 該死
kai-sí
damn it
tsiám-pó campur
tsham
to mix
tua-la tuala 面巾
bīn-kin
towel

There are also many Hokkien words which have been borrowed into Malay, sometimes with slightly different meanings, e.g.:

Malay Penang Hokkien Definition Notes
beca 馬車
bée-tshia
horse-cart
bihun 米粉
bí-hún
rice vermicelli
Jepun 日本
Ji̍t-pún
Japan
loteng 樓頂
lâu-téng
upstairs Originally means "attic" in Hokkien.
kicap 鮭汁
kê-tsiap
fish sauce Originally means "sauce" in Hokkien.
kongsi 公司
kong-si
to share Originally means "company/firm/clan association" in Hokkien.
kuaci 瓜子
kua-tsí
edible watermelon seeds
kuetiau 粿條
kué-tiâu
flat rice noodle
kuih 粿
kué
rice-flour cake
mi
noodles
sinseh 先生
sin-senn
traditional Chinese doctor
tauhu 豆腐
taū-hū
tofu
tauke 頭家
thâu-kee
boss
teh
têe
tea
teko 茶鈷
têe-kóo
teapot
Tionghua/Tionghoa 中華
Tiong-huâ
Chinese (of/relating to China)
Tiongkok 中國
Tiong-kok
China
tukang 廚工
tû-kang
craftsman

Other Chinese varieties

There are words in Penang Hokkien that originated from other varieties of Chinese spoken in and around Malaysia. e.g.:

Penang Hokkien Originated from Definition Note

ài
Teochew want

Teochew I; me Originally pronounce as guá in Hokkien but Penang Hokkien uses pronunciation from Teochew.
我儂
uá-lâng
Teochew we; us May be shortened to uang/wang (卬)
汝儂
lú-lâng
Teochew you guys May be shortened to luang (戎)
伊儂
i-lâng
Teochew they; theirs May be shortened to iang/yang (傇)
無便
bô-piàn
Teochew nothing can be done

ngam
Cantonese fit; suitable
大佬
tāi-lôu
Cantonese bro; boss Penang Hokkien uses pronunciation from Cantonese.
緊張
kín-tsiong
Cantonese nervous Compound word Hokkien 緊 (kín) + Cantonese 張 (jēung).
無釐頭
môu-lêi-thāu
Cantonese makes no sense From Cantonese 無厘頭 (mòuh lèih tàuh).
豬腸粉
tsý-tshiông-fân
Cantonese chee cheong fun Penang Hokkien uses pronunciation from Cantonese.
濕濕碎
sa̋p-sa̋p-sêoi
Cantonese piece of cake Penang Hokkien uses pronunciation from Cantonese.
死爸
sí-pēe
Singaporean Hokkien very Originated from Teochew 死父 (sí-pĕ) and adopted from Singaporean Hokkien 死爸 (sí-pē).
我老的
uá-lāu-ê
Singaporean Hokkien oh my god; oh no

English

Penang Hokkien has also borrowed some words from English, some of which may have been borrowed via Malay, but these tend to be more technical and less well embedded than the Malay words, e.g. brake, park, pipe, pump, etc.

Thai

Penang Hokkien also contains words which are thought to come from Thai.

Penang Hokkien Definition Other Hokkien Note
鏺/鈸
pua̍t
1/10 of a unit of currency
i.e. 10 sen/cents
e.g. 50 sen 五鏺/鈸 gōo-pua̍t

kak
Etymology ultimately unknown but thought to come from Thai baht.


Entertainment

In recent years, a number of movies that incorporate the use of Penang Hokkien have been filmed, as part of wider efforts to preserve the dialect's relevance.[13] Among the more recent movies are The Journey, which became the highest-grossing Malaysian film in 2014, and You Mean the World to Me, the first movie to be filmed entirely in Penang Hokkien.

See also

Notes

  1. ^ The open-mid front unrounded vowel /ɛ/ is a feature of Zhangzhou Hokkien, from which Penang Hokkien is derived. Tâi-lô records this vowel as ⟨ee⟩. It is much less commonly written in Pe̍h-ōe-jī as it has merged with ⟨e⟩ in mainstream Taiwanese and Amoy Hokkien. However it may be written as a distinct vowel in Pe̍h-ōe-jī using ⟨ɛ⟩ or ⟨e͘⟩ (with a dot above right, by analogy with ⟨⟩).

References

  1. ^ "Change Request Documentation: 2021-045". 31 August 2021. Retrieved 30 May 2022.
  2. ^ "Reclassifying ISO 639-3 [nan]" (PDF). GitHub. 31 August 2021. Retrieved 28 July 2022.
  3. ^ "Dialects and Languages in Numbers". Penang Monthly. Archived from the original on 16 May 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b Mok, Opalyn (14 July 2015). "Saving the Penang Hokkien Language, One Word at A Time". Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 10 April 2019.
  5. ^ Ong, Teresa Wai See (2020). "Safeguarding Penang Hokkien in Malaysia: Attitudes and Community-Driven Efforts". Linguistics Journal. 14 (1).
  6. ^ Ding, Weilun 丁伟伦 (23 June 2016). "[Fāngyán kètí shàng piān] "jiǎng huáyǔ yùndòng" chōngjí dà niánqīng rén shuō bu chū fāngyán" 【方言课题上篇】“讲华语运动”冲击大年轻人说不出方言 [[Dialect Topic Part 1] "Speak Mandarin Campaign" Hits Young People Unable to Speak Dialects]. Kwong Wah Yit Poh (in Chinese). Archived from the original on 6 November 2019.
  7. ^ Koh, Aun Qi (9 September 2017). "Penang Hokkien and Its Struggle for Survival". New Naratif. Archived from the original on 14 November 2017.
  8. ^ Mok, Opalyn (19 August 2017). "Has Mandarin Replaced Hokkien in Penang?". Malay Mail. Archived from the original on 4 September 2019.
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Further reading