Listen, Min-style Accent
  • Talking about a typical breed of Fujianese is not easy. You might be familiar with such a funny idiom: Once you master Fujian dialects, you’d become a linguistic expert. So where are these various dialects originated? Does the “Fujian Dialect” exist? Which spoken language is supposed to known by tourists?
  • Speaking of Fujian dialects, Yi Zhongtian (a scholar celebrity renowned for his comments on CCTV program “BAIJIAJIANGTANG”) has an incisive saying: If Gan (brief name of Jiangxi Province) dialect resembles a sword,Hakka resembles a community, then Min (brief name of Fujian Province) dialect is just like a stone--more exactly like a living fossil. More distinctively,among Chinese nine dialect zones, Fujian dialect system is the only one that has thoroughly different secondary dialects. Due to its geographic conditions, there is “a village a tone” phenomenon, which is vividly described as “never easy to chat with neighbour villagers”.
  • There’s no particular “Fujian Dialect” due to its complicated linguistic system. The distribution of dialects can be related to the administrative divisions in ancient times and topography of the river basins. About 54 minorities are scattered here, among whom the She, Hui, Man and Mongolia ethnic minority are inhabitants. Decades of industrious laboring has helped to form the abundant ethnic customs.
  • If calculated by groups, East and South Fujian, Puxian speakers constitute 80% of the total population, while the other 20% including Longyan, Nanping and Sanming, all belong to the west, north and middle Fujian Dialect Zone. Beyond dispute, the southeastern coast is relatively prosperous region of the province.
East-Min Dialect
Main Scope: Fuzhou, Ningde; Fuzhou Dialect as representative
If Hong Kong’s transliteration of English names, for instance, “Michael” as “Migao”--might have made you feel peculiar, then you should be understandable to catch the truth that in the far-back late Qing Dynasty, a Fuzhou (capital of Fujian Province) native named Linshu transliterated “Holmes” to “Fu’er’mos”. Fuzhou natives’ failure to distinguish consonants “h” and “f” has consummated the “beautiful mistake”.
South-Min Dialect
Main Scope: Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Xiamen, Longyan
South-Min Dialect enjoys a pretty high status in Fujian dialects family. Many tourists regard it as the symbol of Fujian dialects. An interesting fact is that, you can compare Taiwanese to South-Min Dialect parallel. The difference lies in that Taiwanese takes in new elements of Japanese and aboriginal vernacular while the other one reserves most of the ancient Chinese vocabulary and pronunciation. Nanyin Music sung in South-Min Dialect, is one of the oldest music species around the country. Graceful Nanyin sung in accent, evergreen for centuries.
Puxian Dialect
Main Scope: Putian, Xianyou, southern Fuqing and Yongtai of Fuzhou
Also known as “Xinghua Dialect” according to the district’s ancient name, most parts of Puxian Dialect originated from Puxian Opera. Some became ordinary vocabulary, some are used for everyday communication with general cultural significance.
West-Min Dialect
Main Scope: western and southern regions of Longyan and Zhangzhou
Hakka is not a minority but a collective name covering all the Han nationality immigrants from north China. As the saying goes, “I would rather sell ancestry field than their language”--no matter how long the Hakka have been away from hometown, Hakka tone can hardly change, and easily recognize. For instance, Ye Jianying, who spoke pure Hakka whether at home or on TV, always amused his own family when delivering speeches to the whole nation.
North-Min Dialect
Main Scope: Nanping, Wuyishan; Jian’ou Dialect as representative
Jian’ou Dialect is considerably similar to Korean. Previously stunning TV series “You who came from the stars” has concealed abundant original-tasted Jian’ou Dialect. For example, “not bad”, “do not”, “less than 7 years”, “comical”, “15 years”, “here”, “fancy”, “sorry”, “I see you off”. Some sentences could be figured out once paying more attention, because they’re so close in pronunciation.
Mid-Min Dialect
Main Scope: East and middle region of Fujian,including Sanming, Yong’an and Shaxian;
Yong’an and Shaxian Dialect as representatives Many Mid-Min words have overall contrary meanings to mandarin Chinese. In Shaxian Dialect, “Jiang’ and “Shuo”(both mean “talk” or “say” or “speak” in English) have special meanings: the former is a derogatory term, namely to speak ill of someone or even slander him; while the latter is a commendatory term, namely to praise or flatter someone. Since the 1950s, other Min-dialect speakers and people from outside the province surged into Sanming, resulting in a smash of Mid-Min Dialect and a relatively vulnerable dialect.