Monday, December 29, 2008

Speaking Hokkien...

I came across an email from a friend in Spore. Surprisingly, the email pointed me to a Wikipedia listing on Hokkien dialect. I am Hokkien and the language is spoken widely in Penang. Hokkien - "Ancient Imperial Language in China" was the title of the email and I read the note with great interest. It is, therefore, not surprising that the mail contained information that tries to validate the usage of the language and also giving the relevant notes of the similarities that can be seen in the Hokkien language. I am not sure of its authenticity but I am just thinking aloud - since Hokkien is spoken so widely sometime back, why is Mandarin dominant now? I believe it has to do with the test of times across the history of the Chinese empire. I am not a revered historian but maybe it is time to have a look at the details to find out more. Anyway, enjoy the email below:

Ancient Imperial Language of China – 2,000 Years Ago
How Did it Sound
Like? (Mind you, it's no way similar to Mandarin) Has this Ancient Language
Survived? Who Speaks it Today? You'll be Surprised. You have heard it. You, your
parents, or grandparents may still be speaking this ancient, archaic language!
Yes, it's HOKKIEN (Fujian/Minnan Hua) Hokkien is: 1. The surviving language of
the Tang
(618-907AD), China 's Golden Age of Culture. Note: The Hokkien we
hear today may have "evolved" from its original form 2,000 years ago, but it
still retains the main elements of the Tang Dynasty Language. 2. Hokkiens are
the surviving descendants of the Tang Dynasty -- When the Tang Dynasty
collapsed, the people of the Tang Dynasty fled South and sought refuge in the
Hokkien ( Fujian ) province. Hence, Hokkien called themselves Tng-lang (Tang Ren
or People of the Tang Dynasty) instead of Hua Lang (Hua Ren). 3. Hokkien has 8
tones instead of Mandarin's 4. Linguists claim that ancient languages tend to
have more complex tones. 4. Hokkien retains the ancient Chinese pronunciation of
"K-sounding" endings (for instance, Hak Seng (student), Tua Ok (university),
Thak Chek (read a book/study) -- the "k" sounding ending is not found in
Mandarin. 5. The collection of the famous "Three Hundred Tang Dynasty Poems"
sound better when recited in Hokkien/Teochew if compared to Mandarin. 6.
Consider this for a moment: Today, the Hokkien Nam Yim ochestral performance
still has its roots in ancient Tang dynasty music. Here's the proof: The
formation of today Nam Yim ensemble is typically seen in ancient Tang dynasty
paintings of musicians.
More Astonishingly: Although not
genetically-related, Hokkiens, Koreans and Japanese share many similar words
(which are different from Mandarin). That's because Hokkien was the official
language of the powerful Tang Dynasty whose influence and language spread to
Japan and Korea (just like Latin – where many words were borrowed by the
English, French, Italian, etc). Here are just a few words in Hokkien, Japanese
& Korean for your comparison:
Sin Boon
Shinbun - newspaper
Cheng Hu (government) Chong
Bu Pang
To all 49 Million Hokkien Speakers: Be Proud of Your Ancient Hokkien
Heritage & Language! Speak it Loud and Clear. Teach Your Future Generation
this Imperial Language, Less it Fades Away. Be Proud Children of the Tang
Emperors. To all Mandarin-speaking friends out there -- do not look down on your
other Chinese friends who do not speak Mandarin – whom you guys fondly refer to
as "Bananas". In fact, they are speaking a language which is much more ancient
& linguistically complicated than Mandarin. Keep in mind that Mandarin is
just: 1. A Northern Chinese dialect (heavily influenced by non Han Chinese) that
was elevated to the status of National Language by Sun Yat Sen for the sake of
China 's national unity. 2. Mandarin was never spoken by your proud, imperial
Tang Dynasty ancestors. It was probably spoken by the Northern (Non-Han)
Jurchen, Mongols and Manchu minority. Start speaking the language of your
ancestors today. Other interesting links:

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