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Min (; BUC: Mìng ngṳ̄) is a broad group of
Sinitic languages The Sinitic languages, often synonymous with "Chinese languages", constitute the major branch of the Sino-Tibetan languages, Sino-Tibetan language family. It is frequently proposed that there is a primary split between the Sinitic languages an ...
spoken by about 30 million people in
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as well as many similar terms, are g ...
as well as by the descendants of Min speaking colonists on
Leizhou Leizhou () is a county-level city in Guangdong Province, China. It is under the jurisdiction of the prefecture-level city of Zhanjiang. The city was formerly known as Haikang County (Postal romanization, postal: Hoihong); it was upgraded into a ...
peninsula and
Hainan Hainan (, ; ) is the smallest and southernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Hainan
, or assimilated natives of
Chaoshan Chaoshan or Teoswa (; peng'im Peng'im (: Diê5ziu1uê7 Pêng1im1 huang1uan3 (Chaozhou, Teochew) Dio7ziu1uê7 Pêng1im1 huang1uan3 (Shantou, Swatow), Peh-oe-ji: ''Tiê-chiu-ōe Pheng-im Hoang-òaⁿ'' or ''Tiō-chiu-ōe Pheng-im Hoang-òaⁿ' ...
, parts of
Zhongshan Zhongshan (; ) is a prefecture-level city in the south of the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Provinces of China, province, China. As of the 2020 census, the whole city with 4,418,060 inhabitants is now part of the Guangzhou–Shenzhen conurbati ...

Zhongshan
, three counties in southern
Wenzhou Wenzhou (pronounced ; Wenzhounese: Yuziou y33–11 tɕiɤu33–32 ) is a prefecture-level city in southeastern Zhejiang province of China, province in the China, People's Republic of China. Wenzhou is located at the extreme south east of ...

Wenzhou
, Zhoushan archipelago, and
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
. The name is derived from the Min River in Fujian, which is also the abbreviated name of Fujian Province. Min varieties are not
mutually intelligible In linguistics Linguistics is the science, scientific study of language. It encompasses the analysis of every aspect of language, as well as the methods for studying and modeling them. The traditional areas of linguistic analysis include p ...
with one another nor with any other variety of Chinese. There are many Min speakers among
overseas Chinese Overseas Chinese () refers to people of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by popula ...

overseas Chinese
in
Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled South East Asia and South-East Asia, and also known as Southeastern Asia or SEA, is the geographical United Nations geoscheme for Asia#South-eastern Asia, southeastern subregion of Asia, consisting of the regions ...

Southeast Asia
. The most widely spoken variety of Min outside Fujian is Southern Min (
Min Nan Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucrac ...
), also known as Hokkien-Taiwanese (which includes
Taiwanese Taiwanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Taiwan (Formosa) * Taiwanese aborigines, the indigenous people of Taiwan * Han Taiwanese, the Han people of Taiwan * Taiwanese people, residents of Taiwan or people of Taiwanese descent * Taiwan ...
and
Amoy Xiamen ( , ; ), also known as Amoy (, from Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minn ...
). Many Min languages have retained notable features of the Old Chinese language, and there is linguistic evidence that not all Min varieties are directly descended from
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
of the
Sui
Sui
Tang dynasties. Min languages are believed to have a significant linguistic substrate from the languages of the inhabitants of the region prior to its
sinicization Sinicization, sinofication, sinification, or sinonization (from the prefix , 'Chinese, relating to China') is the process by which non-Chinese societies come under the influence of Chinese culture Chinese culture () is one of the world's ...
.


History

The Min homeland of Fujian was opened to Han Chinese settlement by the defeat of the
Minyue Minyue () was an ancient kingdom in what is now the Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unit ...
state by the armies of
Emperor Wu of Han Emperor Wu of Han (30 June 156 – 29 March 87BC), formally enshrined as Emperor Wu the Filial Filial may refer to: * Filial church, a Roman Catholic church to which is annexed the cure of souls, but which remains dependent on another church ...

Emperor Wu of Han
in 110 BC. The area features rugged mountainous terrain, with short rivers that flow into the
South China Sea The South China Sea is a marginal sea This is a list of seas of the World Ocean The ocean (also the sea or the world ocean) is the body of Saline water, salt water that covers approximately 70.8% of the surface of Earth and contains 97 ...

South China Sea
. Most subsequent migration from north to south China passed through the valleys of the Xiang and
Gan The word Gan or the initials GAN may refer to: Places * Gáň, a village and municipality in Galanta District, Trnava Region, south-west Slovakia * Gan Island, an island in the Addu Atoll in the Indian Ocean that used to be an RAF airbase * Ga ...
rivers to the west, so that Min varieties have experienced less northern influence than other southern groups. As a result, whereas most
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, ...
can be treated as derived from
Middle Chinese Middle Chinese (formerly known as Ancient Chinese) or the Qieyun system (QYS) is the historical variety of Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country ...
—the language described by rhyme dictionaries such as the ''
Qieyun The ''Qieyun'' () is a Chinese language, Chinese rhyme dictionary, published in 601 during the Sui dynasty. The book was a guide to proper reading of classical texts, using the ''fanqie'' method to indicate the pronunciation of Chinese characters ...
'' (601 AD)—Min varieties contain traces of older distinctions. Linguists estimate that the oldest layers of Min dialects diverged from the rest of Chinese around the time of the
Han dynasty#REDIRECT Han dynasty The Han dynasty () was the second Dynasties in Chinese history, imperial dynasty of China (202 BC – 220 AD), established by the rebel leader Liu Bang and ruled by the House of Liu. Preceded by the short-lived Qin dynas ...

Han dynasty
. However, significant waves of migration from the
North China Plain 200px, The North China Plain is shown in dark. The Yellow River is shown as "Río Amarillo". The North China Plain () is a large-scale downfaulted rift basin formed in the late Paleogene The Paleogene ( ; also spelled Palaeogene or Palæogene; ...
occurred: * The
Uprising of the Five Barbarians The Upheaval of the Five Barbarians () is a Chinese expression referring to a series of rebellions and invasions between 304 and 316 by non-Han Han may refer to: Ethnic groups * Han Chinese The Han Chinese,Jin dynasty, particularly the
Disaster of Yongjia The Disaster of Yongjia () refers to events in Chinese history The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding's reign, who was me ...
in 311 AD, caused a tide of immigration to the south. * In 669, Chen Zheng and his son Chen Yuanguang from Gushi County in
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
set up a regional administration in
Fujian Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, sub ...

Fujian
to suppress an insurrection by the
She people The She people (; Shehua: ; Cantonese: , Fuzhou dialect, Fuzhou: ) are an ethnic group in China. They form one of the 56 List of ethnic groups in China, ethnic groups officially recognized by the China, People's Republic of China. The She are th ...
. * Wang Chao was appointed governor of Fujian in 893, near the end of the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
, and brought tens of thousands of troops from
Henan Henan (; ; alternatively Honan) is a landlocked province of China The provincial level administrative divisions () are the highest-level administrative divisions of China. There are 34 such divisions claimed by the People's Republic of ...

Henan
. In 909, following the fall of the Tang dynasty, his son
Wang Shenzhi Wang Shenzhi (; 862 – December 30, 925), courtesy name Xintong () or Xiangqing (), formally Prince Zhongyi of Min () and later further posthumously honored as Emperor Taizu of Min (), was the founder of Min Kingdom on the southeast coastal provi ...
founded the
Min Kingdom Min () was one of the Ten Kingdoms which was in existence between the years of 909 and 945. It existed in a mountainous region of modern-day Fujian province Fujian (; alternately romanized as Fukien or Hokkien) is a province A province ...
, one of the
Ten Kingdoms The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (907–979) was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century Imperial China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang d ...
in the
Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period The Five Dynasties and Ten Kingdoms period (), from 907 to 979 was an era of political upheaval and division in 10th-century history of China, Imperial China. Five states quickly succeeded one another in the Central Plain (China), Central Plain ...
. Jerry Norman identifies four main layers in the vocabulary of modern Min varieties: # A non-Chinese substratum from the original languages of Minyue, which Norman and Mei Tsu-lin believe were
Austroasiatic The Austroasiatic languages , also known as Mon–Khmer , are a large language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, based on speech and gesture (spoken lan ...

Austroasiatic
. # The earliest Chinese layer, brought to Fujian by settlers from
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
to the north during the Han dynasty. # A layer from the
Northern and Southern dynasties The Northern and Southern dynasties () was a period in the history of China The earliest known written records of the history of China date from as early as 1250 BC, from the Shang dynasty (c. 1600–1046 BC), during the king Wu Ding ...
period, which is largely consistent with the phonology of the ''Qieyun'' dictionary. # A literary layer based on the koiné of
Chang'an Chang'an (; ) is the traditional name of Xi'an Xi'an ( , ; ; Chinese: ), sometimes romanized as Sian, is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between ...
, the capital of the
Tang dynasty The Tang dynasty (, ; ), or Tang Empire, was an imperial dynasty of China that ruled from 618 to 907, with an interregnum An interregnum (plural interregna or interregnums) is a period of discontinuity or "gap" in a government, organiza ...
. Laurent Sagart (2008) disagrees with Norman and Mei Tsu-lin's analysis of an Austroasiatic substratum in Min. The hypothesis proposed by Jerry Norman and Tsu-Lin Mei arguing for an Austroasiatic homeland along the middle Yangtze has been largely abandoned in most circles, and left unsupported by the majority of Austroasiatic specialists.Chamberlain, James R. (2016).
Kra-Dai and the Proto-History of South China and Vietnam
, p. 30. In ''Journal of the Siam Society'', Vol. 104, 2016.


Geographic location and subgrouping

Min is usually described as one of seven or ten groups of
varieties of Chinese Chinese Chinese can refer to: * Something related to China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List of countries and dependencies by population, world's most populous country, ...
but has greater dialectal diversity than any of the other groups. The varieties used in neighbouring counties, and in the mountains of western Fujian even in adjacent villages, are often mutually unintelligible. Early classifications, such as those of
Li Fang-Kuei Li Fang-Kuei (20 August 190221 August 1987) was a Chinese linguist known for his studies of the varieties of Chinese, and for his reconstructions of Old Chinese and Proto-Tai. Biography Li Fang-Kuei was born on 20 August 1902 in Guangzhou ...
in 1937 and
Yuan Jiahua Yuan Jiahua (, ; January 19034 September 1980) was a Chinese linguist Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classi ...
in 1960, divided Min into Northern and Southern subgroups. However, in a 1963 report on a survey of Fujian, Pan Maoding and colleagues argued that the primary split was between inland and coastal groups. A key discriminator between the two groups is a group of words that have a
lateral Lateral is a geometric term of location {{unreferenced, date=March 2014 Geometric terms of location describe directions or positions relative to the shape of an object. These terms are used in descriptions of engineering, physics, and other scienc ...
initial in coastal varieties, and a voiceless fricative or in inland varieties, contrasting with another group having in both areas. Norman reconstructs these initials in
Proto-Min Proto-Min is a comparative method (linguistics), comparative reconstruction of the common ancestor of the Min Chinese, Min group of varieties of Chinese. Min varieties developed in the relative isolation of the Chinese province of Fujian and easte ...
as voiceless and voiced laterals that merged in coastal varieties.


Coastal Min

The coastal varieties have the vast majority of speakers, and have spread from their homeland in Fujian and eastern Guangdong to the islands of
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
and
Hainan Hainan (, ; ) is the smallest and southernmost province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational enti ...

Hainan
, to other coastal areas of southern China and to Southeast Asia. Pan and colleagues divided them into three groups: *
Eastern Min Eastern Min or Min Dong (, Foochow Romanized Foochow Romanized, also known as Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC for short; ) or Hók-ciŭ-uâ Lò̤-mā-cê (), is a Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters ori ...
(Min Dong), centered around the city of
Fuzhou Fuzhou (; , Fuzhounese The Fuzhou dialect (, FR: ), also Foochow, Hokchew, Hok-chiu, or Fuzhounese, is the prestige Prestige refers to a good reputation or high esteem; in earlier usage, ''prestige'' meant "showiness". (19th c.) Prest ...

Fuzhou
, the capital of Fujian province, with
Fuzhou dialect The Fuzhou dialect (, FR: ), also Foochow, Hokchew, Hok-chiu, or Fuzhounese, is the prestige Prestige refers to a good reputation or high esteem; in earlier usage, ''prestige'' meant "showiness". (19th c.) Prestige may also refer to: Arts ...
as the prestige form. *
Pu-Xian Min Puxian (Hinghwa Romanized Hinghwa Romanized, also known as Hing-hua̍ báⁿ-uā-ci̍ (興化平話字) or Báⁿ-uā-ci̍ (平話字), is a Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally use ...
is spoken in the city of
Putian Putian or Putien (, Putian dialect: ''Pó-chéng''), also known as Puyang (莆阳) and Puxian (莆仙), historically known as Xinghua or Hing Hwa (), is a prefecture-level city A prefectural-level municipality (), prefectural-level city ...

Putian
and the county of Xianyou County. Li Rulong and Chen Zhangtai examined 214 words, finding 62% shared with
Quanzhou dialect The Quanzhou dialect (), also known as the Chin-chew dialect, is a dialect of Hokkien Hokkien (; , Pe̍h-ōe-jī: ''Hok-kiàn-ōe'', ) or Minnan (閩南語/闽南语), known as Quanzhang or Tsuan-Tsiang (泉漳) in linguistics, is a Southern M ...
(Southern Min) and 39% shared with Fuzhou dialect (Eastern Min), and concluded that Pu-Xian was more closely related to Southern Min. *
Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucrac ...
(Min Nan) originates from the south of Fujian and the eastern corner of Guangdong. In popular usage, Southern Min usually refers to dialects of the Quanzhang type, which originated in southern Fujian (around
Quanzhou Quanzhou, alternatively known as Chinchew, is a prefecture-level port city on the north bank of the Jin River, beside the Taiwan Strait The Taiwan Strait, also known as the Formosa Strait, is a -wide strait A strait is a natural ...

Quanzhou
,
Zhangzhou Zhangzhou (), alternately romanized Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, including speech (spoken lan ...

Zhangzhou
and
Xiamen Xiamen ( , ; ), also known as Amoy (, from Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ...

Xiamen
) and spread to Southeast Asia, where they are known as Hokkien, and
Taiwan Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the eastern region of Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern and N ...

Taiwan
, where they are known as
Taiwanese Taiwanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Taiwan (Formosa) * Taiwanese aborigines, the indigenous people of Taiwan * Han Taiwanese, the Han people of Taiwan * Taiwanese people, residents of Taiwan or people of Taiwanese descent * Taiwan ...
.
Zhenan Min Zhenan Min (), is a Min Nan Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucra ...
of
Cangnan County Cangnan County ( ) is a county in the prefecture-level city of Wenzhou in southern Zhejiang. The county government is in Lingxi, Cangnan, Lingxi. Cangnan has 20 towns, 14 townships, and two nationality townships. The predominant Chinese dialect spo ...
in southern
Zhejiang Zhejiang (, ; , Chinese postal romanization, also romanized as Chekiang) is an East China, eastern, coastal Provinces of China, province of the China, People's Republic of China. Its capital and largest city is Hangzhou. Zhejiang is bordered ...

Zhejiang
is also of this type. The dialects of the
Chaoshan Chaoshan or Teoswa (; peng'im Peng'im (: Diê5ziu1uê7 Pêng1im1 huang1uan3 (Chaozhou, Teochew) Dio7ziu1uê7 Pêng1im1 huang1uan3 (Shantou, Swatow), Peh-oe-ji: ''Tiê-chiu-ōe Pheng-im Hoang-òaⁿ'' or ''Tiō-chiu-ōe Pheng-im Hoang-òaⁿ' ...
region of eastern Guangdong, including Teochew and
Shantou dialect The Shantou dialect, formerly known as the Swatow dialect, is a Chinese dialect mostly spoken in Shantou in Guangdong, China. It is a dialect of Chaoshan Min language. Phonology Shantou dialect has 18 initials, 61 rimes and 8 tones. Initials R ...
s, have difficult mutual intelligibility with the
Amoy dialect The Amoy dialect or Xiamen dialect (), also known as Amoynese, Amoy Hokkien, Xiamenese or Xiamen Hokkien, is a dialect of Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucr ...
. Most
Thai Chinese Thai Chinese (also known as Chinese Thais, Sino-Thais or Thais of Chinese origin) are an ethnic Chinese community in Thailand ) , royal_anthem = '' Sansoen Phra Barami''( en, "Glorify His prestige") , image_map ...
speak Teochew varieties. The ''
Language Atlas of China The ''Language Atlas of China'' (), published in two parts in 1987 and 1989, maps the distribution of both the varieties of Chinese Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety Algebraic varieties are the centr ...
'' (1987) distinguished two further groups, which had previously been included in Southern Min: *
Leizhou Min Leizhou or ''Luichew'' Min (, ) is a branch of Min Chinese Min (; Bàng-uâ-cê, BUC: Mìng ngṳ̄) is a broad group of Sinitic languages spoken by about 30 million people in Fujian Provinces of China, province as well as by the descendants of ...
, spoken on the
Leizhou Peninsula The Leizhou Peninsula, Chinese postal romanization, alternately romanized as the Luichow Peninsula, is a peninsula in the southernmost part of Guangdong, Guangdong Province in South China. History Qing naval forces were stationed at the Leizho ...
in southwestern Guangdong. *
Hainanese Hainanese ( Hainan Romanised: ', ), also known as Qióngwén () or Qióngyǔ (), is a group of Min Chinese Variety (linguistics), varieties spoken in the southern Chinese island province of Hainan. In the classification of Yuan Jiahua, it was i ...
, spoken on the island of Hainan. These dialects feature drastic changes to initial consonants, including a series of
implosive consonant Implosive consonants are a group of stop consonant In phonetics Phonetics is a branch of linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of ...
s, that have been attributed to contact with the Tai–Kadai languages spoken on the island. Coastal varieties feature some uniquely Min vocabulary, including pronouns and negatives. All but the Hainan dialects have complex
tone sandhi Tone sandhi is a phonological change occurring in tonal languages Tone is the use of pitch (music), pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning – that is, to distinguish or to inflection, inflect words. All verbal langua ...
systems.


Inland Min

Although they have far fewer speakers, the inland varieties show much greater variation than the coastal ones. Pan and colleagues divided the inland varieties into two groups: *
Northern Min Northern Min (), is a group of mutually intelligible Min varieties spoken in Nanping prefecture of northwestern Fujian. Classification and distribution Early classifications of varieties of Chinese, such as those of Li Fang-Kuei in 1937 a ...
(Min Bei) is spoken in
Nanping Nanping (, historically known as Yenping) is a third-tier prefecture-level city in northwestern Fujian Province, People's Republic of China China, officially the People's Republic of China (PRC), is a country in East Asia. It is the List ...

Nanping
prefecture in Fujian, with
Jian'ou dialect Jian'ou dialect (Northern Min: / ; Chinese language, Chinese: ), also known as Kienow dialect, is a local dialect of Northern Min Chinese spoken in Jian'ou in northern Fujian province. It is regarded as the standard common language in Jian'ou. ...
taken as typical. *
Central Min Central is an adjective usually referring to being in the center (disambiguation), center of some place or (mathematical) object. Central may also refer to: Directions and generalised locations * Central Africa, a region in the centre of Africa ...
(Min Zhong), spoken in
Sanming Sanming (, Foochow Romanized Foochow Romanized, also known as Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC for short; ) or Hók-ciŭ-uâ Lò̤-mā-cê (), is a Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by th ...

Sanming
prefecture. The ''
Language Atlas of China The ''Language Atlas of China'' (), published in two parts in 1987 and 1989, maps the distribution of both the varieties of Chinese Variety may refer to: Science and technology Mathematics * Algebraic variety Algebraic varieties are the centr ...
'' (1987) included a further group: *
Shao-Jiang Min Shao–Jiang or Shaojiang Min () is a Min Chinese language centered on Western Nanping in Northwest Fujian, specifically in the Nanping counties of Guangze County, Guangze, Shaowu, and Western Shunchang County, Shunchang and the Northern Sanming co ...
, spoken in the northwestern Fujian counties of
Shaowu Shaowu () is a county-level city in northwestern Fujian province, People's Republic of China, located in the central part of the Wuyi Mountains and bordering Jiangxi province to the west. It has more than 100,000 inhabitants. The Shaowu dialect, ...
and Jiangle, were classified as
Hakka The Hakka (), sometimes also referred to as Hakka Han, or Hakka Chinese, are a Han Chinese The Han Chinese (), or the Han people (), is an East Asian East Asia is the east East is one of the four cardinal direction The fou ...
by Pan and his associates. However, Jerry Norman suggested that they were inland varieties of Min that had been subject to heavy
Gan The word Gan or the initials GAN may refer to: Places * Gáň, a village and municipality in Galanta District, Trnava Region, south-west Slovakia * Gan Island, an island in the Addu Atoll in the Indian Ocean that used to be an RAF airbase * Ga ...
or Hakka influence. Although coastal varieties can be derived from a
proto-language In the tree model In historical linguistics Historical linguistics, also termed diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include: # to describe and accou ...
with four series of stops or affricates at each point of articulation (e.g. , , , and ), inland varieties contain traces of two further series, which Norman termed "softened stops" due to their reflexes in some varieties. Inland varieties use pronouns and negatives cognate with those in Hakka and Yue. Inland varieties have little or no tone sandhi.


Vocabulary

Most Min vocabulary corresponds directly to cognates in other Chinese varieties, but there is also a significant number of distinctively Min words that may be traced back to proto-Min. In some cases a semantic shift has occurred in Min or the rest of Chinese: * *tiaŋB 鼎 "wok". The Min form preserves the original meaning "cooking pot", but in other Chinese varieties this word (MC > ''dǐng'') has become specialized to refer to ancient ceremonial tripods. * *dzhənA "rice field". In Min this form has displaced the common Chinese term ''tián'' 田. Many scholars identify the Min word with ''chéng'' 塍 (MC ) "raised path between fields", but Norman argues that it is cognate with ''céng'' 層 (MC ''dzong'') "additional layer or floor", reflecting the
terrace Terrace may refer to: Landforms and construction * Fluvial terrace, a natural, flat surface that borders and lies above the floodplain of a stream or river * Terrace, a street suffix * Terrace (earthworks), a leveled surface built into the landsc ...
d fields commonly found in Fujian. * *tšhioC 厝 "house". Norman argues that the Min word is cognate with ''shù'' 戍 (MC syuH) "to guard". * *tshyiC 喙 "mouth". In Min this form has displaced the common Chinese term ''kǒu'' 口. It is believed to be cognate with ''huì'' 喙 (MC ''xjwojH'') "beak, bill, snout; to pant". Norman and Mei Tsu-lin have suggested an Austroasiatic origin for some Min words: * *-dəŋA "shaman" may be compared with
Vietnamese Vietnamese may refer to: * Something of, from, or related to Vietnam, a country in Southeast Asia ** A citizen of Vietnam. See Demographics of Vietnam. * Vietnamese people, or Kinh people, a Southeast Asian ethnic group native to Vietnam ** Oversea ...

Vietnamese
''đồng'' (/ɗoŋ2/) "to shamanize, to communicate with spirits" and Mon doŋ "to dance (as if) under demonic possession". * *kiɑnB 囝 "son" appears to be related to Vietnamese ''con'' (/kɔn/) and Mon kon "child". However, Norman and Mei Tsu-lin's suggestion is rejected by Laurent Sagart (2008). Moreover, the Austroasiatic predecessor of modern Vietnamese language has been proven to originate in the mountainous region in Central Laos and Vietnam, rather than in the region north of the
Red River delta The Red River Delta or Hong River Delta ( vi, Châu thổ sông Hồng) is the flat low-lying plain formed by the Red River and its distributaries merging with the Thái Bình River in northern Vietnam , image_map = , m ...
.Chamberlain, J.R. 1998,
The origin of Sek: implications for Tai and Vietnamese history
, in The International Conference on Tai Studies, ed. S. Burusphat, Bangkok, Thailand, pp. 97-128. Institute of Language and Culture for Rural Development, Mahidol University.
In other cases, the origin of the Min word is obscure. Such words include: * *khauA 骹 "foot" * *-tsiɑmB 䭕 "insipid" * *dzyŋC 𧚔 "to wear".


Writing system

When using
Chinese characters Chinese characters, also called ''hanzi'' (), are logogram In a written language A written language is the representation of a spoken or gestural language A language is a structured system of communication used by humans, ...
to write a non-Mandarin form, a common practice is to use characters that correspond etymologically to the words being represented, and for words with no evident etymology, to either invent new characters or borrow characters for their sound or meaning.
Written Cantonese Written Cantonese is the written form of Cantonese Cantonese ( zh, t=廣東話, s=广东话, first=t; Yale Yale University is a private Ivy League The Ivy League (also known as The Ancient Eight) is an American collegiate athl ...
has carried this process out to the farthest extent of any non-Mandarin variety, to the extent that pure Cantonese vernacular can be unambiguously written using Chinese characters. Contrary to popular belief, a vernacular written in this fashion is not in general comprehensible to a Mandarin speaker, due to significant changes in grammar and vocabulary and the necessary use of large number of non-Mandarin characters. For most Min varieties, a similar process has not taken place. For Hokkien, competing systems exist. Given that Min combines the Chinese of several different periods and contains some non-Chinese substrate vocabulary, an author literate in Mandarin (or even Classical Chinese) may have trouble finding the appropriate Chinese characters for some Min vocabulary. In the case of
Taiwanese Taiwanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Taiwan (Formosa) * Taiwanese aborigines, the indigenous people of Taiwan * Han Taiwanese, the Han people of Taiwan * Taiwanese people, residents of Taiwan or people of Taiwanese descent * Taiwan ...
, there are also indigenous words borrowed from
Formosan languages The Formosan languages are the languages of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan, all of which are Austronesian. The Taiwanese indigenous peoples recognized by the government are about 2.3% of the island's population. However, only 35% speak their ...

Formosan languages
(particularly for place names), as well as a substantial number of loan words from
Japanese Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan Japan ( ja, 日本, or , and formally ) is an island country An island country or an island nation is a country A country is a distinct territory, territorial body or ...

Japanese
. The Min spoken in Singapore and Malaysia has borrowed heavily from
Malay Malay may refer to: Languages * Malay language or Bahasa Melayu, a major Austronesian language spoken in Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore ** History of the Malay language#Old Malay, the Malay language from the 4th to the 14th century ** ...
and, to a lesser extent, from
English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon England, early medieval England, which has eventually become the World language, leading lan ...

English
and other languages. The result is that adapting Chinese characters to write Min requires a substantial effort to choose characters for a significant portion of the vocabulary. Other approaches to writing Min rely on
romanization Romanization or romanisation, in linguistics Linguistics is the scientific study of language, meaning that it is a comprehensive, systematic, objective, and precise study of language. Linguistics encompasses the analysis of every aspec ...
or phonetic systems such as
Taiwanese Phonetic Symbols Taiwanese Phonetic Symbols (; TPS: ㄉㄞˊ ㆣ丨ˋ ㄏㆲ 丨ㆬ ㄏㄨˊ ㄏㄜ˫) constitute a system of Phonetic transcription, phonetic notation for the transcription of Taiwanese languages, especially Taiwanese Hokkien. The system was d ...
. Some Min speakers use the Church Romanization (). For
Hokkien Hokkien () is a Southern Min Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureau ...
the romanization is called
Pe̍h-ōe-jī (; abbreviated POJ; literally ''vernacular writing''; also sometimes known as the Church Romanization) is an orthography An orthography is a set of conventions for writing Writing is a medium of human communication that involves the re ...
(POJ) and for
Fuzhou dialect The Fuzhou dialect (, FR: ), also Foochow, Hokchew, Hok-chiu, or Fuzhounese, is the prestige Prestige refers to a good reputation or high esteem; in earlier usage, ''prestige'' meant "showiness". (19th c.) Prestige may also refer to: Arts ...
called
Foochow Romanized Foochow Romanized, also known as Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC for short; ) or Hók-ciŭ-uâ Lò̤-mā-cê (), is a Latin alphabet The Latin alphabet or Roman alphabet is the collection of letters originally used by the ancient Romans to write the ...
(Bàng-uâ-cê, BUC). Both systems were created by foreign missionaries in the 19th century (see
Min Nan Southern Min (), Minnan (Mandarin Mandarin may refer to: * Mandarin (bureaucrat), a bureaucrat of Imperial China (the original meaning of the word) ** by extension, any senior government bureaucrat A bureaucrat is a member of a bureaucrac ...
and Min Dong Wikipedia). There are some uncommon publications in mixed writing, using mostly Chinese characters but using the Latin alphabet to represent words that cannot easily be represented by Chinese characters.


See also

* Chinese in New York City


References


Citations


Works cited

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


Further reading

* Marc Miyake, Miyake, Marc (2012)
Jerry Norman's "Three Min etymologies" (1984) revisited
{{Languages of China Min Chinese, Chinese languages in Singapore