Talk:Minnan phrasebook

Active discussions

Split articleEdit

I think that we should perhaps split the article into Standard Minnan and Teochew phrasebooks. After all, although they are both variants of Minnan, they are significantly different and both have significant overseas populations, and speakers of each of the variants consider themselves distinct from the rest. What are your takes on this?

That would be pretty cool to have a Teochew phrasebook page created. However, it's probably not necessary to change the name of this page to "Standard Minnan phrasebook" because even though Teochew is a variety of Minnan, "Minnan" by itself probably (although I'm not sure) is assumed to refer to the varieties spoken in Xiamen and most of Taiwan and such. -(WT-en) Qeny 00:32, 2 October 2010 (EDT)
(years later) We do now have a Teochew phrasebook, but it does not have much content. Pashley (talk) 23:57, 30 June 2017 (UTC)


I've restored the original phrasebook material on this page. If phonetic pronunciations (as in the newly-created Phonetic phrase list for English speakers) are needed, they should be added to this article, not put in a separate article. - (WT-en) Todd VerBeek 22:31, 3 August 2006 (EDT)

I tried to reorganize this page. According to wikipedia, it is more correct to say that Taiwanese is a dialect of Min Nan. Other dialects are Hokkien and Hakka. So on the Min Nan page I thought it would be better organization to create links to Taiwanese, and the others. It has been immediately reverted by Xltel without explanation, which makes me wonder if it was automatic. In the process of doing so the link to the Taiwanese page has been lost Any advice to a new wiki-er would be appreciated! (WT-en) R s l n 18:39, 20 August 2006 (EDT)

I have heeded the advice to rename to Taiwanese_phrasebook and taken the redirect out from Taiwanese_phrasebook to Minnan_phrasebook. Please see [[1]]. Minnan_phrasebook should probably be deleted. (WT-en) R s l n 20:21, 20 August 2006 (EDT)

Currently the article is at Minnan phrasebook; Hokkien and Taiwanese are redirects to that. My understanding is that those are all names for the same language, while Hainanese and Teochew are different but related languages. I do not think Hakka is part of that group.
See also #Move.3F below. Pashley (talk) 00:26, 1 July 2017 (UTC)


This page says "I've no idea what the conventions are for Romanisation", but appears to use pinyin.

Romanising Chinese is hard. Quite a few experts have worked on the problem for years. Methinks our only hope of getting it anywhere near right is to follow existing conventions.

Older books and maps may still be using Wade-Giles, but pinyin has been the standard on the mainland for decades, and a slightly different variant is now the standard fot Taiwan. We should use pinyin.

Phonetic phrase list for English speakers says someting like "Unconventional Romanisation. Trying to write phonetically for American english speakers..." I think this notion is doomed. Inventing a new romanisation is difficult; Wikivoyage needs to be usable for Australians, German speakers, ..., anyone who reads English; and in any case, American English has lots of variation. (WT-en) Pashley 04:36, 13 August 2006 (EDT)

This is Minnan, not Mandarin, so you can't use pinyin or Wade-Giles or any of the usual suspects. Wikipedia recommends Pe̍h-ōe-jī.
I think we need to have both an exact formal transcription, so people who like this kinda thing (like me!) can work out exactly how to pronounce things, and the pseudophonetics, so the rest of us can attempt to stammer out something roughly comprehensible. (WT-en) Jpatokal 04:42, 13 August 2006 (EDT)

Hi I am the one who added the "Phonetic phrase list for English speakers" and am new to wiki, apologies for not logging in before. I agree, that having both a formal romanization, in this case, Peh-oē-jī, and also an informal one, should be included. Even though I speak Taiwanese, I found Peh-oē-jī to be quite an endeavor, and perhaps more appropriate for the linguists than for the travellers. Thus I have decided to add the pseudophonetics to the bottom so there can be a list all in the formal, then a list for the informal (instead of, for each phrase, having both) to cut down on printed pages needed for the traveller who may decide on using one or the other. I think it is better to include the pseudophonetics than not, and leave it to the traveller to decide to use it or not. From my experience trying to teach people with no experience in tonal languages, this is the better way to get them going, and audio is really the best. As for the Peh-oē-jī section, good luck and thank you to anyone who can get that started. Also, upon reading more about this, I will separate the Taiwanese, as it falls *under* Min-nan languages, as well as others, like Hokkien or Hakka. See [[2]] (WT-en) R s l n 17:53, 20 August 2006 (EDT)

Tone numbersEdit

This page uses things like Gum(1) for first tone. I have not seen this before, though I have seen numbers simply appended like Gum1. If we are going to use numbers, I think we should do it that way and add an explanation of what the numbers mean.

Better I think to use tone marks as in this example from the China page: People's Republic of China (中华人民共和国 Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó) (WT-en) Pashley 04:45, 13 August 2006 (EDT)

Pe̍h-ōe-jī uses tone marks, but obviously there are more of them because Minnan has eight tones and Mandarin has only 5. (WT-en) Jpatokal 04:47, 13 August 2006 (EDT)

moved from Phonetic phrase list for English speakersEdit

to Talk:Minnan phrasebook/Phonetic phrase list for English speakers. Edit away! — (WT-en) Ravikiran 11:50, 20 August 2006 (EDT)


I think this should be moved to Hokkien phrasebook since Hokkien is the most widely used English term for the language. Would anyone object? Pashley (talk) 05:09, 24 March 2017 (UTC)

I think the phrasebook article don't move.--Yuriy kosygin (talk) 13:31, 21 October 2017 (UTC)
Might you be able to explain why you think this? Hiàn (talk) 02:37, 16 January 2018 (UTC)
Support. I'd agree that Hokkien is more widely used, no issues found. hiàn 15:28, 18 February 2018 (UTC)
  • Support per nom. Ikan Kekek (talk) 17:02, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
  • I'm a bit torn on this. I will confirm that Hokkien is the most common term used by English speakers in Singapore and Malaysia, but I'm not sure if someone from the US or UK would understand what it means. I know for sure that a second language English speaker from Taiwan or China will have no idea what you are talking about. To the person from China, you'll have to say "Minnan Hua", and to the person from Taiwan, you'll have to say "Taiwanese", though they will also understand "Minnan Hua". The dog2 (talk) 00:29, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
Can't we deal with this with redirects and a discussion of the various names for the language in introductory sections on background? Ikan Kekek (talk) 03:55, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
I have no objection to any of your suggestions. As for what to name the article, it's a tough one. Yes, the term "Hokkien" is the most common English name of the language in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, but you will likely not be understood if you use that name in China or Taiwan (assuming the person speaks English). On the other hand, the term "Minnan" is not as widely understood in Southeast Asia. The dog2 (talk) 05:05, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree with The dog2 that Min Nan is the main term used in China. Your average American or Brit probably won't know any of these terms. I tend to think that when it comes to phrasebooks for Chinese, we should give less weight to Singapore and Malaysia, because in those countries travelers are more likely to be using English or a Malay phrasebook and less likely to be using a Chinese phrasebook. So on that basis my initial reaction is to oppose the move, though I'm open to being convinced. —Granger (talk · contribs) 07:47, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
Speaking of which, even though the term "Minnan" is not widely used in Singapore and Malaysia, because many people receive Chinese channels through cable, it will still be known by a good number of people. And in Taiwan, even though most people there call it "Taiwanese", the term "Minnan" is universally understood. The dog2 (talk) 11:50, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
That changes my view. I was going to ask whether travelers to Taiwan would be most likely to be motivated to learn the language, as travelers to China would be most likely to learn spoken Mandarin, travelers to Malaysia would be most likely to learn Malay, and travelers to Singapore would be most likely to simply speak English. But if Minnan/Min Nan is a widely known term wherever it's spoken, we should redirect "Hokkien phrasebook" and "Taiwanese phrasebook". Ikan Kekek (talk) 13:20, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────With regards to Taiwan, I will say that if you can only afford to learn one language, it should be Mandarin. Virtually every non-elderly Taiwanese person is able to speak Mandarin, even if Minnan is their first language. On the other hand, most Hakka speakers and Taiwanese Aboriginals are not fluent in Minnan (though they will understand some common expressions), but the non-elderly ones will almost certainly know how to speak Mandarin. The dog2 (talk) 17:23, 10 September 2019 (UTC)


I think the current introductory section is far too long and detailed for a travel guide. I want to shorten it radically, reverting to about what we had a while ago:

Minnan is the main language of Southern Fujian and has spread from there to other areas. It is known by several different names: in Mandarin, it is Minnan hua (South Fujian speech), in Taiwan Taiwanese (臺語 tâi-gí), in most of Southeast Asia Hokkien (福建話 Hok-kiàn-ōe) from the Minnan word for Fuijan, and in the Philippines, the overseas Chinese call it "Our People's Language" (咱儂話 Lán-lâng-ōe).
Each of the major cities of Fujian's Minnan-speaking areas — Xiamen, Quanzhou and Zhangzhou — and each overseas region where the language is spoken has its own slightly different variant. The overseas variants are influenced by other local languages; Taiwanese has some Japanese loanwords, Hokkien some from Malay/Indonesian and Cantonese, and so on. All these variants, however, are mutually intelligible to a great extent.
Minnan is not mutually unintelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese or other Chinese "dialects", not even with the other Min (Fujian) languages such as Mindong (Fuzhou Hua), Minbei and Puxian. Languages classified as related to Minnan are Teochew, which has only partial mutual intelligibility with Minnan, and Hainanese which has almost none.
Mandarin is an official language in China, Taiwan and Singapore, and widely used in education and media. Today most Minnan speakers on the mainland or in Taiwan also speak Mandarin, and most foreign residents of those areas choose to learn Mandarin rather than Minnan.

Other opinions? Pashley (talk) 16:17, 7 September 2019 (UTC)

Can't we create some sort of "Understand" section? --Comment by Selfie City (talk | contributions) 19:31, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree with Pashley. The current introduction doesn't feel very readable to me. And since phrasebooks are entirely about understanding and being understood, I would oppose titling any section "Understand". Ikan Kekek (talk) 21:33, 7 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree with splitting part of the lede off to a different section. I think we can see the Chinese phrasebook for guidance on how to do it. For that matter, I think we should do the same in the Cantonese phrasebook too. The dog2 (talk) 00:32, 9 September 2019 (UTC)
I disagree. I think the above is all we need & it belongs in the lede.
I'd also remove the bit about what overseas Chinese in the Philippines call it; that has nothing to do with the English name (I've heard a Filipino who spoke the language call it Hokkien in English) & has little relevance to travellers. Pashley (talk) 15:49, 10 September 2019 (UTC)
I disagree on the point about the Philippines. What kind of phrasebook does not have the name of the language in its native form? The dog2 (talk) 16:56, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

  I inserted my version. Saving previous version below in case some should be salvaged:

Southern Min, Minnan , Hokkien-Taiwanese (Mainland China : 闽南方言 Bân-lâm-hong-giân : Min Nan Dialect ; Taiwan (Kuomingtang, KMT) : 臺灣閩南語 Tâi-uân-Bân-lâm-gí Min Nan Language ; Taiwan (Democratic Progressive Party, DPP and other Opposition Political Parties) : 臺語 tâi-gí Taiwanese Language), is a Chinese Min language subgroup of dialects that is mainly spoken in the southern region of Fujian province and in Taiwan. It is the most well-known and the largest Min Chinese subgroup and the major Min Chinese Language group of Fujian and Taiwan today, it is also spoken by certain overseas Chinese populations whose ancestral families hail from Southern Fujian, particularly in Southeast Asian countries such as Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and The Philippines, where they make up the largest Chinese non-Mandarin language group before Cantonese. In Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia, the overseas Chinese call it Hokkien (福建話 Hok-kiàn-ōe), while in the Philippines, the overseas Chinese call it "Our People's Language" (咱儂話 Lán-lâng-ōe).

The four mutually intelligible Min Nan dialects are Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Xiamen and Taiwanese. All the mutually intelligible Min Nan dialects spoken in Southern Fujian and Taiwan are collectively known as Hokkien-Taiwanese Quanzhang Min Nan language (闽台泉漳片闽南语). The Overseas Min Nan dialect variants spoken in Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, The Philippines and some other Southeast Asian countries are influenced by Malay, English, Cantonese or other local languages spoken in the Southeast Asian countries, while the Min Nan dialects spoken in Western countries are mostly the Taiwanese Min Nan Language.

There are non-Mandarin/non-Cantonese Chinese varieties spoken in some areas in Guangdong Province that are related to Min Nan dialects. Generally, the Hokkien-Taiwanese Quanzhang (闽台泉漳片) type of Min Nan spoken in Southern Fujian and Taiwan is the mainstream form of Min Nan because it has the largest number of speakers among all the Min Nan dialects in Mainland China, Taiwan and Southeast Asia and the influence of Taiwanese Min Nan after the post martial law period during the late 1980s in Taiwan today. The variants of Min Nan spoken in Guangdong and Hainan bear more differences with the mainstream Min Nan dialects compared to the smaller differences between the mainstream Min Nan dialects.

Although the variants of Min Nan have a historical linguistic relationship with Hokkien-Taiwanese Quanzhang (闽台泉漳片) Min Nan, they differ significantly in pronunication and use of slang which are unique to the region, so they are not easily mutually intelligible with the Hokkien-Taiwanese Quanzhang Min Nan. For example, Teochew (Chaoshan) has only partial mutual intelligibility with Mainstream Min Nan, while the Hainanese variant of Min Nan has no mutual intelligibility with Mainstream Min Nan.

The modern standard dialect pronunciations of Min Nan are Xiamen dialect accent and Taiwanese Min Nan dialect (Tainan prestige accent). The Tainan prestige accent of the Taiwanese Min Nan dialect is the dialect accent that is mostly used in Minnan television broadcasting and Minnan song production in Taiwan. The Taiwanese Min Nan dialect is influential as the Taiwanese Min Nan Television shows today and Taiwanese Min Nan songs are well known among the native Min Nan Chinese speakers in Southern Fujian, Taiwan, overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia and Western countries. Although native Min Nan Chinese speakers do not adopt the standard Min Nan pronunciation themselves, the standard Min Nan pronunciation is generally understood by most. Xiamen dialect's accent is very similar to the Taiwanese Min Nan dialect (Tainan prestige accent), both are mixtures of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou Min Nan dialect accents. The Xiamen dialect and Taiwanese Min Nan dialect (Tainan prestige accent) are highly mutually intelligible (98% phonetically similar; 90% lexically similar). The difference between the two standard Min Nan dialects is that the Xiamen dialect accent is slightly inclined towards the Quanzhou dialect accent while Taiwanese Min Nan dialect (Tainan prestige accent) is slightly inclined towards the Zhangzhou dialect accent. The mainland Min Nan dialects and Taiwan Min Nan dialect also differ in lexicon to a small extent. Furthermore, Taiwanese Min Nan has borrowed some terminology from Japanese, due to the legacy of the Japanese colonial rule of Taiwan during the late 18th century till the Kuomintang takeover of Taiwan.

Min Nan can be said to be mutually unintelligible with standard Mandarin and other dialects not only due to the pronunciation differences but also because of the irregular word/character conversion, i.e. a non-native Minnan speaker can only understand the dialect to a small extent even when it is presented in written form (e.g. "食甲尚好驚血壓懸,媠毋綴人走" : 《陳雷.歡喜就好》) It is also not mutually intelligible with the other branches of the Min dialect family such as Mindong, Minbei and Puxian. That said, virtually all younger Minnan speakers in mainland China and Taiwan able to speak Mandarin as well.

Pashley (talk) 17:37, 10 September 2019 (UTC)

Return to "Minnan phrasebook" page.