HOME
        TheInfoList






Teochew (Chinese: 潮州話; pinyin: Cháozhōuhuà, Chaozhou dialect: Diê⁵ziu¹ uê⁷, Shantou dialect: Dio⁵ziu¹ uê⁷) is a dialect of Chaoshan Min, a Southern Min language, that is spoken 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 rendering, 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 Hokkien, although the two are not largely mutually intelligible[citation needed].

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.[2]

Languages in contact

This refers to Chaozhou, the variant of Southern Min (Min Nan) spoken in China.

Mandarin

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, but students typically continue to speak 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 used to be done in the local vernacular.

Chaozhou accent in Mandarin

Native Chaozhou-speakers find the neutral tone in Mandarin the most difficult tone to master. Chaozhou has lost the alveolar nasal ending [-n] and so Chaozhou-speakers often replace it with the velar nasal [-ŋ] when they speak Mandarin. The southern Min dialects all have no front rounded vowel and so a typical Chaozhou accent supplants the unrounded counterpart [i] for [y]. Chaozhou, like its ancient ancestor, lacks labio-dentals and so its speakers use [h] or [hu] instead of [f] when they speak Mandarin. Chaozhou has no retroflex consonants in its northern dialects and so [ts], [tsʰ], [s], and [z] replace [tʂ], [tʂʰ], [ʂ] and [ʐ] in the Chaozhou accent in Mandarin.[original research?]

Hakka

Since Chao'an, Raoping, and Jieyang border the Hakka-speaking region in the north, some people there speak Hakka but 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 the Hakka-speaking regions meet, Chaozhou is also spoken, but Hakka remains the primary form of Chinese spoken there.

Cantonese

Because of the strong influence of Hong Kong soap operas, Guangdong provincial television programs and Cantonese pop songs, many young Chaoshan peoples can understand quite a lot of Cantonese even if they cannot speak it with much fluency.[citation needed]

Hmong-Mien 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.

Phonetics and phonology

Consonants

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 bel

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.[2]

This refers to Chaozhou, the variant of Southern Min (Min Nan) spoken in China.

Mandarin

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, but students typically continue to speak 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 used to be done in the local vernacular.

Chaozhou accent in Mandarin

Native Chaozhou-speakers find the neutral tone in Mandarin the most difficult tone to master. Chaozhou has lost the alveolar nasal ending [-n] and so Chaozhou-speakers often replace it with the velar nasal [-ŋ] when they speak Mandarin. The southern Min dialects all have no front rounded vowel and so a typical Chaozhou accent supplants the unrounded counterpart [i] for [y]. Chaozhou, like its ancient ancestor, lacks labio-dentals and so its speakers use [h] or [hu] instead of [f] when they speak Mandarin. Chaozhou has no retroflex consonants in its northern dialects and so [ts], [tsʰ], [s], and [z] replace [tʂ], [tʂʰ], [ʂ] and [ʐ] in the Chaozhou accent in Mandarin.[original research?]

Hakka

Since Chao'an, Raoping, and Jieyang border the Hakka-speaking region in the north, some people there speak Hakka but 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 the Hakka-speaking regions meet, Chaozhou is also spoken, but Hakka remains the primary form of Chinese spoken there.

Cantonese

Because of the strong influence of Hong Kong soap operas, Guangdong provincial television programs and Cantonese pop songs, many young Chaoshan peoples can understand quite a lot of Cantonese even if they cannot speak it with much fluency.[citation needed]

Hmong-Mien 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.

Phonetics and phonology

Consonants[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, but students typically continue to speak 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 used to be done in the local vernacular.

Chaozhou accent in Mandarin

Since Chao'an, Raoping, and Jieyang border the Hakka-speaking region in the north, some people there speak Hakka but 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 the Hakka-speaking regions meet, Chaozhou is also spoken, but Hakka remains the primary form of Chinese spoken there.

Cantonese

Because of the strong influence of Hong Kong soap operas, Guangdong provincial television programs and Cantonese pop songs, many young Chaoshan peoples can understand quite a lot of Cantonese even if they cannot speak it with much fluency.[citation needed]

Hmong-Mien languages<

Because of the strong influence of Hong Kong soap operas, Guangdong provincial television programs and Cantonese pop songs, many young Chaoshan peoples can understand quite a lot of Cantonese even if they cannot speak it with much fluency.[citation needed]

Hmong-Mien languagesTeochew, 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:

Teochew consonants
Bilabial Alveolar Velar Glottal
Southern Min dialects and varieties are typified by a lack of labiodentals, as illustrated below:

b

n

l 來/內

ŋ

g 鵝/牙

plosive or lateral
Voiceless l 來/內

ŋ

g 鵝/牙

plosive or 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.

Onsets

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.

Finals

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.

Nucleus -a- -- -- -ə- -i- -u- -ai- -au- -oi- -ou- -ui- -iu- ∅-
Medial ∅- i- u- ∅- u- ∅- i- ∅- ∅- ∅- ∅- u- ∅- ∅- ∅- i- ∅- ∅-
Coda -∅ a ia ua e ue Finals

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.

Nucleus -a- -tonal language. It has a set of eight distinct sounds, but only six of them are considered unique tones. This discrepancy occurs because two of the eight sounds are reduced to stopped syllables, despite already sharing the same pitch as the six main tones. Additionally, depending on the position of a word in a phrase, the tones can change and adopt extensive tone sandhi.

Teochew tones
Tone
number
Tone name Pitch
contour
Description Sandhi
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.

Grammar

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.

Morphology

Pronouns

Personal pronouns

The personal pronouns in Teochew, like in other Chinese varieties, do not show case marking, therefore [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 [naŋ] would be used, otherwise [ŋ]. No other southern Chinese variety has this distinction.

Personal Pronouns in Teochew
  Singular Plural
1st person ua˥˨ I / me Inclusive naŋ˥˨ we / us
Exclusive uaŋ˥˨ (uŋ˥˨ / ŋ˥˨) we / us
2nd person lɨ˥˨ you niŋ˥˨ you (plural)
3rd person he/she/it/him/her 伊人 iŋ˧ (i˧ naŋ˥) they/them
Possessive pronounsAs 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.

Grammar