|台山话 / 台山話 / 臺山話|
|Native to||Southern China, Hong Kong, United States (mostly California and New York City), Canada and Vietnam|
|Region||western and southern Guangdong; the Pearl River Delta; parts of Hainan|
|Native speakers||~1–2 million (date missing)|
Taishanese (Toisanese; simplified Chinese: 台山话; traditional Chinese: 臺山話; Taishanese: [hɔi˨san˧wa˧˨˥]) is a dialect of Yue Chinese. The dialect is closely related to Cantonese. Taishanese is spoken in the southern part of Guangdong Province in China, particularly in and around the city-level county of Taishan. In the mid to late 19th century, a significant number of Chinese emigrating to North America originated from this area, making Taishanese a dominant variety of the Chinese language spoken in North American Chinatowns. It was formerly the lingua franca of the overseas Chinese residing in the United States. It is not currently recognized as having official status in any country.
The earliest linguistic studies refer to the dialect of Llin-nen or Xinning (Chinese: 新寧). Xinning was renamed Taishan in 1914, and linguistic literature has since generally referred to the local dialect as the Taishan dialect, a term based on the Mandarin pronunciation. Alternative names have also been used. The term Toishan is a convention used by the United States Postal Service, the Defense Language Institute and the United States Census. The terms Toishan, Toisan and Toisaan are all based on Cantonese pronunciation, and are also frequently found in linguistic and non-linguistic literature.Hoisan is a term based on the local pronunciation, although it is generally not used in published literature.
These terms have also been anglicized with the suffix -ese: Taishanese, Toishanese, and Toisanese. Of the previous three terms, Taishanese is most commonly used in academic literature, to about the same extent as the term Taishan dialect. The term Hoisanese is rarely used in print literature, although it appears on the internet.
Another term used is Siyi (also Seiyap, Szeyap or Szeyup, Chinese: 四邑), which refers to a previous administrative division which comprised the four counties of Taishan, Kaiping, Enping and Xinhui. In 1983, a fifth county (Heshan) was added to the Jiangmen prefecture, and so the term Siyi, which literally means "four counties", has become an anachronism.
The term Wuyi (Chinese: 五邑), literally "five counties", refers to the modern administrative region. This term is not used to refer to Taishanese.
Taishanese originates from the Taishan region, where it is spoken. Often regarded as a single language, Taishanese can also be seen as a group of very closely related, mutually intelligible subdialects spoken in the various towns and villages in and around Siyi (the four counties of Taishan, Enping, Kaiping, Xinhui).
A vast number of Taishanese immigrants journeyed worldwide through the Taishan diaspora. The Taishan region was a major source of Chinese immigrants in the Americas from the mid-19th and late-20th centuries. Approximately 1.3 million people are estimated to have origins in Taishan. Prior to the signing of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965, which allowed new waves of Chinese immigrants, Taishanese was the dominant dialect spoken in Chinatowns across North America. It is also spoken in Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City Cholon neighborhood.
Taishanese is still spoken in many Chinatowns throughout North America, including those of San Francisco, Oakland, Los Angeles, New York City, Boston, Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal by older generations of Chinese immigrants and their children, but is today being supplanted by mainstream Cantonese and increasingly by Mandarin in both older and newer Chinese communities alike, across the country.
Relationship with Cantonese
Taishanese is a dialect of the Yue branch of the Chinese language, which means that it can be considered a dialect of Cantonese. However, due to ambiguities in the meaning of "Cantonese" in the English language, as it can refer to both the greater Yue dialect group or its prestige standard (Standard Cantonese), "Taishanese" and "Cantonese" are commonly used in mutually exclusive contexts, i.e. Taishanese is treated separately from "Cantonese". Speakers of Cantonese often find it difficult to understand Taishanese. The phonology of Taishanese bears a lot of resemblance to Cantonese, since both of them have common historical roots. Like other Cantonese dialects, such as the Goulou dialects, Taishanese pronunciation and vocabulary may sometimes differ greatly from Cantonese. Despite the fact that Taishan stands only 60 miles (97 km) from the city of Guangzhou, the dialect of Taishan is linguistically far removed from the Guangzhou dialect because of the numerous rivers that separate the two. However, because Cantonese is one of the lingua francas of Guangdong, virtually all Taishanese-speakers also understand it. In fact, most Siyi people in Guangdong regard their own tongue as merely a differently-accented form of Cantonese.
Standard Cantonese functions as a lingua franca in Guangdong province, and speakers of other Sinitic languages (such as Chaozhou, Minnan, Hakka) living in Guangdong may also speak Cantonese. On the other hand, Mandarin is the standard language of the People's Republic of China and the only legally-allowed medium for teaching in schools throughout most of the country (except minority areas), so residents of Taishan speak Mandarin as well. Although the Chinese government has been making great efforts to popularize Mandarin by administrative means, most Taishan residents do not speak Mandarin in their daily lives, but treat it as a foreign language, with Cantonese being the lingua franca of their region.
One distinction between Taishanese and Cantonese is the use of the voiceless lateral fricative (IPA ɬ), e.g., 三 (meaning "three") is pronounced saam1 in Cantonese and lhaam2 in Taishanese. Voiceless lateral fricatives can also be found in many other western dialects of Cantonese, such as the Gaoyang and Guinan dialects.
Taishanese is tonal. There are five contrastive lexical tones inherited from ancient Chinese. The tones are high, mid, low, mid falling, and low falling; in at least one Taishanese dialect, the falling tones have merged into a low falling tone. There is no tone sandhi.
|Tone||Tone contour||Example||Changed tone||Chao Number||Cantonese tone number|
|high||˥ (55)||hau˥ 口 (mouth)||(none)||-||1|
|mid||˧ (33)||hau˧ 偷 (to steal)||mid rising||˧˥ (35)||3|
|low||˨ or ˩ (22 or 11)||hau˨ 頭 (head)||low rising||˨˥ (25)||6|
|mid falling||˧˩ (31)||hau˧˩ 皓 (bright)||mid dipping||˧˨˥ (325)||-|
|low falling||˨˩ (21)||hau˨˩ 厚 (thick)||low dipping||˨˩˥ (215)||4|
Taishanese has four changed tones: mid rising, low rising, mid dipping and low dipping. These tones are called changed tones because they are the product of morphological processes (e.g. pluralization of pronouns) on four of the lexical tones. These tones have been analyzed as the addition of a high floating tone to the end of the mid, low, mid falling and low falling tones. The high endpoint of the changed tone often reaches an even higher pitch than the level high tone; this fact has led to the proposal of an expanded number of pitch levels for Taishanese tones. The changed tone can change the meaning of a word, and this distinguishes the changed tones from tone sandhi, which does not change a word's meaning. An example of a changed tone contrast is /tʃat˨˩/ (to brush) and /tʃat˨˩˥/ (a brush).
Writing uses Chinese characters and Mandarin vocabulary and grammar, with many common words used in spoken Taishanese having no corresponding Chinese characters. No standard romanization system for Taishanese exists. The ones given on this page are merely traditional.
The sound represented by the IPA symbol ⟨ɬ⟩ (the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative) is particularly challenging, as it has no standard romanization. The digraph "lh" used above to represent this sound is used in Totonac, Chickasaw and Choctaw, which are among several written representations in the languages that include the sound. The alternative "hl" is used in Xhosa and Zulu, while "ll" is used in Welsh. Other written forms occur as well.
The following chart compares the plural pronouns among Taishanese (which are formed by changing the tone), Cantonese, and Mandarin.
|we/us||ngoi (呆)||[ŋɔɪ]||ngo5 dei6 (我地)||wǒmen (我们)|
|you (plural)||niek (聶)||[nɪɛk]||nei5 dei6 (你地)||nǐmen (你们)|
|they/them||kiek (劇)||[kɪɛk]||keoi5 dei6 (佢地)||tāmen (他们)|
- Anderson, Stephen R. (1978), "Tone features", in Fromkin, Victoria A., Tone: A Linguistic Survey, New York, NY: Academic Press
- Bauer, Robert S.; Benedict, Paul K. (1997), Modern Cantonese Phonology, Berlin: Walter de Gruyter
- Chao, Yuen-Ren (1951), "Taishan Yuliao", Bulletin of the Institute of Historical Philology (Academia Sinica) 23: 25–76
- Chen, Matthew Y. (2000), Tone Sandhi: Patterns Across Chinese Dialects, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
- Cheng, Teresa M. (1973), "The Phonology of Taishan", Journal of Chinese Linguistics 1 (2): 256–322
- Chung, L. A. (2007), "Chung: Chinese 'peasant' dialect redeemed", San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, CA)
- Defense Language Institute (1964), Chinese-Cantonese (Toishan) Basic Course, Washington, DC: Defense Language Institute
- Don, Alexander (1882), "The Lin-nen variation of Chinese", China Review: 236–247
- Him, Kam Tak (1980), "Semantic-Tonal Processes in Cantonese, Taishanese, Bobai and Siamese", Journal of Chinese Linguistics 8 (2): 205–240
- Hom, Marlon Kau (1983), "Some Cantonese Folksongs on the American Experience", Western Folklore (Western Folklore, Vol. 42, No. 2) 42 (2): 126–139, doi:10.2307/1499969, JSTOR 1499969
- Hom, Marlon Kau (1987), Songs of Gold Mountain: Cantonese Rhymes from San Francisco, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press
- Hsu, Madeline Y. (2000), Dreaming of Gold, Dreaming of Home: Transnationalism and Migration between the United States and China, 1882-1943, Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press
- Peter Ladefoged and Ian Maddieson., Peter; Maddieson, Ian (1996), The Sounds of the World's Languages, Blackwell Publishing, p. 203, ISBN 0-631-19815-6 More than one of
- Lee, Gina (1987), "A Study of Toishan F0", Ohio State University Working Papers in Linguistics 36: 16–30
- Light, Timothy (1986), "Toishan Affixal Aspects", in McCoy, John; Light, Timothy, Contributions to Sino-Tibetan Studies, Leiden, Netherlands: Brill, pp. 415–425
- edited by Laurence J.C. Ma and Carolyn Cartier, Laurence; Cartier, Carolyn L. (2003), The Chinese Diaspora: Space, Place, Mobility, and Identity, Rowman & Littlefield, p. 57, ISBN 0-7425-1756-X More than one of
- McCoy, John (1966), Szeyap Data for a First Approximation of Proto-Cantonese, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University (Ph.D. Dissertation)
- Ramsey, S. Robert (1987), The Languages of China, Princeton University Press, pp. 23–104, ISBN 0-691-06694-9
- Pulleyblank, Edwin (1984), Middle Chinese: A Study in Historical Phonology, UBC Press, p. 31, ISBN 0-7748-0192-1
- Szeto, Cecilia (2000), "Testing intelligibility among Sinitic dialects", Proceedings of ALS2K, the 2000 Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society, retrieved 2008-09-06
- Wong, Maurice Kuen-shing (1982), Tone Change in Cantonese, Champaign, IL: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Yang, Fenggang (1999), Chinese Christians in America: Conversion, Assimilation, and Adhesive Identities, Penn State Press, p. 39
- Yip, Moira (2002), Tone, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press
- Yiu, T'ung (1946), The T'ai-Shan Dialect, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University (Ph.D. Dissertation)
- Yu, Alan (2007), "Understanding near mergers: The case of morphological tone in Cantonese", Phonology 24 (1): 187–214, doi:10.1017/S0952675707001157
- Yue-Hashimoto 余, Anne O. 霭芹 (2005), The Dancun Dialect of Taishan 台山淡村方言研究, Language Information Sciences Research Centre, City University of Hong Kong, ISBN 962-442-279-6
- (Yang 1999)
- (Don 1882)
- (Chen 2000)
- (Cheng 1973)
- Cantonese speakers have been shown to understand only about 30% of what they hear in Taishanese (Szeto 2000)
- (Yiu 1946)
- (Yu 2007)
- (Anderson 1978)
- (Lee 1987)
- (Defense Language Institute 1964)
- "Language code list". United States Census, 2000. University of Michigan Library.[dead link]
- (Hom 1983)
- (Light 1986)
- (McCoy 1966)
- (Hom 1987)
- (Grimes 1996)
- (Him 1980)
- (Hsu 2000)
- Taishan (Hoisanese Sanctuary) from asianworld.pftq.com
- (Chung 2007)
- Taishan International Web
- Although the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed by the signing of the Magnuson Act in 1943, immigration from China was still limited to only 2% of the number of Chinese already living in the United States (Hsu 2000)
- (Ma & Cartier 2003)
- (Ramsey 1987)
- (Ladefoged & Maddieson 1996)
- (Pulleyblank 1984)
- (Wong 1982)
- Chao's tone numbers are generally used in the literature. Each tone has two numbers, the first denotes the pitch level at the beginning of the tone, and the second denotes the pitch level at the end of the tone. Cheng modified the numerical range from 1 (lowest) to 7 (highest): high tone as 66, mid tone as 44, and low tone as 22. In this article Chao's tone letters are used, as they've been adopted by the IPA.
- (Bauer & Benedict 1997)
- (Yip 2002)
- "Hoisanese Sanctuary". Retrieved 2006-09-17. Includes short grammatical overview of Hoisanese.
- Aaron Lee. "Toisan". Retrieved 2006-09-07.
- Stephen Li. "Taishanese Language Home". Retrieved 2011-11-30. Taishanese Resources Website
- Stephen Li. "Toisanese Chop Suey 台山话杂碎". Retrieved 2011-11-30. Taishanese Language Blog
- Aaron Lee. "Four Counties 四邑". Retrieved 2011-11-30. Taishanese Language Blog
- "LEARN TAISHANESE (台山話)". Retrieved 2011-11-30. You can download the Defense Language Institute's 'Chinese-Cantonese (Toishan) Basic Course' audio and text material here