|Native to||China, overseas Chinese communities|
|Region||eastern Guangdong (Chaoshan), southern Fujian (Zhao'an)|
|Ethnicity||Han Chinese (Teochew people)|
|About 10 million in Chaoshan, more than 5 million overseas|
Teochew (Chinese: 潮州話 or 潮汕話; pinyin: Cháozhōuhuà or Cháoshànhuà, Chaozhou dialect: Diê⁵ziu¹ uê⁷; Shantou dialect: Dio⁵ziu¹ uê⁷) is a Southern Min dialect spoken mainly by the Teochew people in the Chaoshan region of eastern Guangdong and by their diaspora around the world. It is sometimes referred to as Chiuchow, its Cantonese name, due to the English romanisation by colonial officials and explorers. It is closely related to some dialects of Hokkien, as it shares some cognates and phonology with it, although the two are not largely mutually intelligible.
Teochew preserves many Old Chinese pronunciations and vocabulary that have been lost in some of the other modern varieties of Chinese. As such, many linguists[who?] consider Teochew one of the most conservative Chinese languages.
Teochew is a variety of Southern Min, which in turn constitutes a part of Min Chinese, one of the seven major language groups of Chinese. As with other varieties of Chinese, it is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese, Shanghainese and other Chinese varieties. However, it has limited intelligibility with the Hokkien dialects, such as those of Amoy, Quanzhou, Zhangzhou and Taiwanese. Even within the Teochew dialects, there is substantial variation in phonology between different regions of Chaoshan and between different Teochew communities overseas.
The Chaoshan dialects in China be roughly divided into three sub-groups defined by physically proximate areas:
The Chaoshan region, which includes the twin cities of Chaozhou and Shantou, is where the standard variant of Teochew (Chaoshan dialact) is spoken. Parts of the Hakka-speaking regions of Jiexi County, Dabu County and Fengshun, also contain pocket communities of Teochew speakers.
As Chaoshan was one of the major sources of Chinese emigration to Southeast Asia during the 18th to 20th centuries, a considerable Overseas Chinese community in that region is Teochew-speaking. In particular, the Teochew people settled in significant numbers in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, where they form the largest Chinese sub-language group. You will also find many Teochew-speakers among Chinese communities in Vietnam, Singapore, Malaysia (especially in the states of Johor and Selangor) and Indonesia (especially in West Kalimantan on Borneo). Waves of migration from Chaoshan to Hong Kong, especially after the communist victory of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, has also resulted in the formation of a community there, although most descendants now primarily speak Cantonese and English.
Teochew speakers are also found among overseas Chinese communities in Japan and the Western world (notably in the United States, Canada, Australia, United Kingdom, France and Italy), a result of both direct emigration from Chaoshan to these nations and secondary emigration from Southeast Asia.
In Singapore, Teochew remains the ancestral language of many Chinese Singaporeans, with the Teochews making up second largest Chinese group in Singapore, after the Hokkiens. Despite this many Teochew, particularly the younger generations are shifting towards English and Mandarin as their main spoken language. This is due to the Singapore government's stringent bilingual policy that promotes English as the official language of education, government and commerce and promotes Mandarin at the expense of other Chinese varieties. Some Teochews assimilated with the larger Hokkien community and speak Hokkien rather than Teochew due to Hokkien's prominent role as a lingua franca previously among the Singaporean Chinese community and the similarities between the two varieties.
Teochew is an indigenous language in Thailand and was predominant in Bangkok until after World War II when the government's Thaification programme forced Teochews to become Thai citizens and quickly adopt the Central Thai language. Today the status of Teochew in Thailand is endangered, although it is still spoken among older ethnic Chinese Thai citizens: the younger Thai Chinese are now generally Central Thai native speakers.
Teochew was never widely spoken among Chinese communities in Japan and South Korea, since most of the Teochew people who migrated to these countries were secondary immigrants from Hong Kong and Taiwan speaking Cantonese, Hokkien and Mandarin, as well as Korean and Japanese, leaving Teochew to be spoken mostly by elders.
Teochew is a variety of Southern Min and is one of the more well known Min Chinese varieties, together with Hokkien, which is spoken in southern Fujian, and the Fuzhou dialect, a dialect of Eastern Min, spoken in Fujian's capital, Fuzhou. Due to historical influence, it shares many phonetic similarities to Hokkien but has low lexical similarity. Although Teochew shares some cognates with Hokkien, there are pronounced differences in most vowels with some consonant and tone shifts. Many of its vocabulary and phrases are distinct from Hokkien. For example while Hokkien use the word beh (欲) to mean 'want' in Teochew the word ai (愛) which means 'love' in Teochew is also used to mean 'want' in Teochew. Hokkien uses the word ia (野) to mean 'very' while Teochews use the word kue (過) which also means 'to cross or to pass' in their language to mean 'very'.
Other than the -p final found in both dialects, Hokkien retains the different finals of -n, -ng, -t and -k while Teochew only has -ng and -k finals as a result of final merging. This caused many Teochews to be unable to properly pronounce the final -n in english words and in replacement they often pronounce it as -ng instead.
Teochew has only 51% intelligibility with the Hokkien variant of Tong'an Xiamen dialect (Cheng 1997) almost the same as the percentage of intelligibity between Russian and Ukrainian languages, while it has an even lower mutual intelligibilty language with other dialect variants of the Hokkien language. Both Hokkien and Teochew have different accents too.
Most Teochew do not speak Hokkien and the majority of Hokkiens and Teochews both see themselves as a distinct groups, but due to certain similarities most can understand certain dialects[clarification needed] of Hokkien to a limited degree and may treat it as a variation of their own tongue. There are a minority of Teochew who speak Hokkien as their mother tongue, most of whom have close contact or relatives in the neighbouring three originally Teochew counties now part of South Fujian seceded to the Hokkien cultural region during the early Tang dynasty and subsequently assimilated into the Hokkien population. These Hokkien speaking Teochew people are more likely to treat Teochew simply as accented form of Hokkien. These people usually have a strong sense of Hokkien identity and due to cultural similarities, easily integrate into Hokkien culture.
This refers to Chaozhou, the variant of Southern Min (Min Nan) spoken in China.
Chaozhou children are introduced to Standard Chinese as early as in kindergarten; however, Chaozhou remains the primary medium of instruction. In the early years of primary education, Mandarin becomes the sole language of instruction, although students typically continue to talk to one another in Chaozhou. Mandarin is widely understood, however minimally, by most younger Chaozhou speakers, but the elderly usually do not speak Mandarin since teaching was done in the local vernacular in the past.
Native Chaozhou speakers find the neutral tone in Mandarin hardest to master. Chaozhou has lost the alveolar nasal ending [-n] and so the people often replace the sound in Mandarin with the velar nasal [-ŋ]. None of the southern Min dialects have a front rounded vowel, therefore a typical Chaozhou accent supplants the unrounded counterpart [i] for [y]. Chaozhou, like its ancient ancestor, lacks labio-dentals; people therefore substitute [h] or [hu] for [f] when they speak Mandarin. Chaozhou does not have any of the retroflex consonants in the northern dialects, so they pronounce [ts], [tsʰ], [s], and [z] instead of [tʂ], [tʂʰ], [ʂ] and [ʐ].[original research?]
Since Chao'an, Raoping and Jieyang border the Hakka-speaking region in the north, some people in these regions speak Hakka, though they can usually speak Chaozhou as well. Chaozhou people have historically had a great deal of contact with the Hakka people, but Hakka has had little, if any, influence on Chaozhou. Similarly, in Dabu and Fengshun, where the Chaozhou- and Hakka-speaking regions meet, Chaozhou is also spoken although Hakka remains the primary form of Chinese spoken there.
There is a degree of contact between the two languages.
In the mountainous area of Fenghuang (鳳凰山), the She language, an endangered Hmong–Mien language, is spoken by the She people, who are an officially recognised non-Han ethnic minority. They predominantly speak Hakka and Teochew; only about 1,000 She still speak their eponymous language.
Teochew, like other Southern Min varieties, is one of the few modern Sinitic languages which have voiced obstruents (stops, fricatives and affricates); however, unlike Wu and Xiang Chinese, the Teochew voiced stops and fricatives did not evolve from Middle Chinese voiced obstruents, but from nasals. The voiced stops [b] and [ɡ] and also [l] are voicelessly prenasalised [ᵐ̥b], [ᵑ̊ɡ], [ⁿ̥ɺ], respectively. They are in complementary distribution with the tenuis stops [p t k], occurring before nasal vowels and nasal codas, whereas the tenuis stops occur before oral vowels and stop codas. The voiced affricate dz, initial in such words as 字 (dzi˩), 二 (dzi˧˥), 然 (dziaŋ˥), 若 (dziak˦) loses its affricate property with some younger speakers abroad, and is relaxed to [z].
Southern Min dialects and varieties are typified by a lack of labiodentals, as illustrated below:
|Nasal||m 毛||n 年||ŋ 雅|
|Stop||aspirated||pʰ 皮||tʰ 台||kʰ 可|
|voiceless||p 比||t 都||k 歌||ʔ|
|voiced||b 米||g 鵝/牙|
h̃ 園/遠 [h̃ŋ]
Syllables in Teochew contain an onset consonant, a medial glide, a nucleus, usually in the form of a vowel, but can also be occupied by a syllabic consonant like [ŋ], and a final consonant. All the elements of the syllable except for the nucleus are optional, which means a vowel or a syllabic consonant alone can stand as a fully-fledged syllable.
All the consonants except for the glottal stop ʔ shown in the consonants chart above can act as the onset of a syllable; however, the onset position is not obligatorily occupied.
Teochew finals consist maximally of a medial, nucleus and coda. The medial can be i or u, the nucleus can be a monophthong or diphthong, and the coda can be a nasal or a stop. A syllable must consist minimally of a vowel nucleus or syllabic nasal.
|1||yin level (陰平)||˧ (3)||mid||1|
|2||yin rising (陰上)||˥˨ (52)||falling||6|
|3||yin departing (陰去)||˨˩˧ (213)||low rising||2 or 5|
|4||yin entering (陰入)||˨̚ (2)||low checked||8|
|5||yang level (陽平)||˥ (5)||high||7|
|6||yang rising (陽上)||˧˥ (35)||high rising||7|
|7||yang departing (陽去)||˩ (1)||low||7|
|8||yang entering (陽入)||˦̚ (4)||high checked||4|
As with sandhi in other Min Nan dialects, the checked tones interchange. The yang tones all become low. Sandhi is not accounted for in the description below.
The grammar of Teochew is similar to other Min languages, as well as some southern varieties of Chinese, especially with Hakka, Yue and Wu. The sequence 'subject–verb–object' is typical, like Standard Mandarin, although the 'subject–object–verb' form is also possible using particles.
The personal pronouns in Teochew, like in other Chinese varieties, do not show case marking, therefore 我 [ua] means both I and me and 伊人 [iŋ] means they and them. The southern Min dialects, like some northern dialects, have a distinction between an inclusive and exclusive we, meaning that when the addressee is being included, the inclusive pronoun 俺 [naŋ] would be used, otherwise 阮 [ŋ]. No other southern Chinese variety has this distinction.
|1st person||我 ua˥˨||I / me||Inclusive||俺 naŋ˥˨||we / us|
|Exclusive||阮 uaŋ˥˨ (uŋ˥˨ / ŋ˥˨)||we / us|
|2nd person||汝 lɨ˥˨||you||恁 niŋ˥˨||you (plural)|
|3rd person||伊 i˧||he/she/it/him/her||伊人 iŋ˧ (i˧ naŋ˥)||they/them|
Teochew does not distinguish the possessive pronouns from the possessive adjectives. As a general rule, the possessive pronouns or adjectives are formed by adding the genitive or possessive marker 個 [kai5] to their respective personal pronouns, as summarised below:
|1st person||我個 ua˥˨ kai˥||my / mine||Inclusive||俺個 naŋ˥˨ kai˥||our / ours|
|Exclusive||阮個 uaŋ˥˨ (uŋ˥˨ / ŋ˥˨) kai˥||ours / ours|
|2nd person||汝個 lɨ˥˨ kai˥||your / yours||恁個 niŋ˥˨ kai˥||your / yours (plural)|
|3rd person||伊個 i˧ kai˥||his / his; her / hers; its / its||伊人個 iŋ˧ (i˧ naŋ˥) kai˥||their / theirs|
Teochew has the typical two-way distinction between the demonstratives, namely the proximals and the distals, as summarised in the following chart:
|General||Singular||之個 [tsi˥˨ kai˥]||this||許個 [hɨ˥˨ kai˥]||that|
|Plural||之撮 [tsi˥˨ tsʰoʔ˦]||these||許撮 [hɨ˥˨ tsʰoʔ˦]||those|
|Spatial||之塊 [tsi˥˨ ko˨˩˧]||here||許塊 [hɨ˥˨ ko˨˩˧]||there|
|之內 [tsi˥˨ lai˧˥]||inside||許內 [hɨ˥˨ lai˧˥]||inside|
|之口 [tsi˥˨ kʰau˩]||outside||許口 [hɨ˥˨ kʰau˩]||outside|
|Temporal||之陣 / 當 [tsi˥˨ tsuŋ˥ / təŋ˨˩˧]||now; recently||許陣 / 當 [hɨ˥˨ tsuŋ˥ / təŋ˨˩˧]||then|
|Adverbial||這生 [tse˥˨ sẽ˧]||like this||向生 [hia˥˨ sẽ˧]||like that|
|Degree||之樣 [tsĩõ˨˩˧]||this||向樣 [hĩõ˨˩˧]||that|
|Type||者個 [tsia˥˨ kai˥]||this kind||向個 [hia˥˨ kai˥]||that kind|
|who / whom||(底)珍 [ti tiaŋ]|
|底人 [ti naŋ]|
|what||乜個 [miʔ kai]|
|what (kind of) + noun||乜 + N [miʔ]|
|which||底 + NUM + CL + (N) [ti]|
|底個 [ti kai]|
|where||底塊 [ti ko]|
|when||珍時 [tiaŋ si]|
|how||manner||做呢 [tso ni]|
|state||在些(樣) [tsai sẽ ĩõ]|
|乜些樣 [miʔ sẽ ĩõ]|
|什乜樣 [si miʔ ĩõ]|
|how many||幾 + CL + N [kui]|
|若多 + (CL) + (N) [dzieʔ tsoi]|
|how much||若多 [dzieʔ tsoi]|
|why||做呢 [tso ni]|
|liŋ5||零||〇||0||〇 is an informal way to represent zero, but 零 is more commonly used, especially in schools. |
also 空 [kang3]
|tsek8||壹||一||1||also 蜀 [tsek8] (original character) |
also 弌 (obsolete)
also [ik4] as the last digit of a 2-or-more-digit number e.g. 二十一 [dzi6 tsap8 ik4]
or days of a month e.g. 一號 [ik4 ho7]
or as an ordinal number e.g. 第一 [tõĩ6 ik4]
also 么(T) or 幺(S) [iou1] when used in phone numbers etc.
|no6||兩(T)||二||2||also 弍 (obsolete) |
also [dzi6] as the last digit of a 2-or-more-digit number e.g. 三十二 [sã1 tsap8 dzi6]
or days of a month e.g. 二號 [dzi6 ho7]
or as an ordinal number e.g. 第二 [tõĩ6 dzi6].
|sã1||叄(T)||三||3||also 弎 (obsolete)|
also 參 [sã1].
|tsap8||拾||十||10||Although some people use 什, It is not acceptable because it can be written over into 伍.|
Note: (T): Traditional characters; (S): Simplified characters.
Ordinal numbers are formed by adding 第 [tõĩ˧˥] in front of a cardinal number.
In Teochew passive construction, the agent phrase by somebody always has to be present, and is introduced by either 乞 [kʰoiʔ˦] (some speakers use [kʰəʔ] or [kʰiəʔ] instead) or 分 [puŋ˧], even though it is in fact a zero or indefinite agent as in:
While in Mandarin one can have the agent introducer 被; bèi or 給; gěi alone without the agent itself, it is not grammatical to say
Instead, we have to say:
Even though this 人 [naŋ˥] is unknown.
Note also that the agent phrase 分人 [puŋ˧ naŋ˥] always comes immediately after the subject, not at the end of the sentence or between the auxiliary and the past participle like in some European languages (e.g. German, Dutch)
Cantonese uses the same construction:
However, due to modern influences from Mandarin, the Mandarin structure "X 比 Y ADJ" has also gained popularity over the years. Therefore, the same sentence can be re-structured and becomes:
The 過- or 比-construction must involve two or more nouns to be compared; an ill-formed sentence will be yielded when only one is being mentioned:
Teochew is different from English, where the second noun being compared can be left out ("Tatyana is more beautiful (than Lisa)". In cases like this, the 夭-construction must be used instead:
The same holds true for Mandarin and Cantonese in that another structure needs to be used when only one of the nouns being compared is mentioned. Note also that Teochew and Mandarin both use a pre-modifier (before the adjective) while Cantonese uses a post-modifier (after the adjective).
There are two words which are intrinsically comparative in meaning, i.e. 贏 [ĩã5] "better" and 輸 [su1] "worse". They can be used alone or in conjunction with the 過-structure:
Note the use of the adverbial 好多 [hoʔ2 tsoi7] at the end of the sentence to express a higher degree.
In Teochew, the idea of equality is expressed with the word 平 [pẽ5] or 平樣 [pẽ5 ĩõ7]:
To express the superlative, Teochew uses the adverb 上 [siaŋ5] or 上頂 [siaŋ5 teŋ2]. 上頂 is usually used with a complimentary connotation.
The vocabulary of Teochew shares a lot of similarities with Cantonese because of their continuous contact with each other.[ambiguous] Like Cantonese, Teochew has a great deal of monosyllabic words. However, ever since the standardisation of Modern Standard Chinese, Teochew has absorbed a lot of Putonghua vocabulary, which is predominantly polysyllabic. Also, Teochew varieties in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia have also borrowed extensively from Malay.
Teochew and other Southern Min varieties, such as Hokkien, preserve a good deal of Old Chinese vocabulary, such as 目 [mak] eye (Chinese: 眼睛; pinyin: yǎnjīng, Hokkien: 目 ba̍k), 灱 [ta] dry (Chinese: 乾; pinyin: gān, Hokkien: 焦 ta), and 囥 [kʰəŋ] hide (cf. Chinese: 藏; pinyin: cáng; Hokkien: 囥 khǹg).
Teochew was romanised by the Provincial Education Department of Guangdong in 1960 to aid linguistic studies and the publication of dictionaries, although Pe̍h-ōe-jī can also be used because Christian missionaries invented it for the transcription of varieties of Southern Min.
Initial consonants of Teochew, are represented in the Guangdong Romanization system as: B, BH, C, D, G, GH, H, K, L, M, N, NG, P, R, S, T, and Z.
Vowels and vowel combinations in the Teochew dialect include: A, E, Ê, I, O, U, AI, AO, IA, IAO, IO, IU, OI, OU, UA, UAI, UE, and UI.
Many words in Teochew are nasalized. This is represented by the letter "n" in the Guangdong Pengim system.
|Wikivoyage has a travel guide for Teochew phrasebook.|