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The Fuzhou dialect (福州话 Hók-ciŭ-uâ; Fuzhou speech) dialect is spoken in Fuzhou and the surrounding areas, as well as on the Taiwan-controlled islands of Matsu. It is part of the Mindong (闽东话 Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄; Eastern Min) branch of the Min family of Chinese dialects, which are also spoken throughout the East Fujian region. It is one of the official languages of Taiwan. Mutual intelligibility between Mindongs dialect varies, while someone form Fuzhou can understand the Fuqing dialect with some effort, they will not be able to understand the dialect spoken in Fu'an.

In Malaysia and Singapore, it is spoken by a significant portion of the ethnic Chinese community and is known as Hokchiu or Foochow. It is also spoken by a significant minority of New York City's Chinese community.

There are also some speakers of Fuzhou Hua around the world. Fujian province has always been outward-looking, involved in trade and a source of emigrants. For the last twenty years or so, the Fuzhou region has been the main source of illegal Chinese immigrants worldwide, and Fuzhou hua can now be heard anywhere from a Tapei brothel to a New York restaurant.

The Fuzhou dialect is not mutually intelligible with Mandarin, Cantonese or any other Chinese dialects, not even other Min dialects like Minnan and Puxian.

Most Fuzhou dialect speakers in China and Taiwan are also able to speak Mandarin, so learning the language is not necessary to communicate, and foreigners living in the area usually opt to learn Mandarin instead. That said, learning to speak Fuzhou dialect will almost certainly impress the locals.

All Chinese languages, in general, use the same set of characters in reading and writing in formal settings, based on standard Mandarin. This means that a Fuzhou dialect speaker and a Mandarin speaker cannot talk to each other, but either can generally read what the other writes. However, Fuzhou dialect written in a colloquial form has significant lexical differences from standard Mandarin, meaning that a Mandarin speaker will not be able to make everything out. Use the Chinese phrasebook for reading most writing in Fuzhou dialect-speaking areas.

Pronunciation guide[edit]

Like other varieties of Chinese, Fuzhou dialect is written using Chinese characters but employs its own unique pronunciation.

In this guide, we will be using the Bàng-uâ-cê (BUC, 平話字/平话字) Romanization system, which was developed by Christian missionaries in the 19th century. While useful for foreigners trying to learn the language, it is virtually never learnt by native speakers, so stick to Chinese characters for written communication.

Finals[edit]

Vowels in Fuzhou dialect usually have two pronunciations, classified as open (松) and closed (紧) rimes. Whether or not a vowel is pronounced with the open or closed rime depends on the tone of the syllable.

a
(open)(IPA: /ɑ/) (closed)(IPA: /a/)
ia
(open)(IPA: /iɑ/) (closed)(IPA: /ia/)
ua
(open)(IPA: /uɑ/) (closed)(IPA: /ua/)
(open)(IPA: /ɑ/) (closed)(IPA: /ɛ/)
ie
(open)(IPA: /iɛ/) (closed)(IPA: /ie/)
(open)(IPA: /ɔ/) (closed)(IPA: /o/)
io
(open)(IPA: /yɔ/) (closed)(IPA: /yo/)
uo
(open)(IPA: /uɔ/) (closed)(IPA: /uo/)
ae̤
(open)(IPA: /ɔ/) (closed)(IPA: /œ/)
au
(open)(IPA: /ɑu/) (closed)(IPA: /au/)
euaiu
(open)(IPA: /ɑu/) (closed)(IPA: /ɛu/)
ieu
(open)(IPA: /iɛu/) (closed)(IPA: /iu/)
iueu
(open)(IPA: /iɛu/) (closed)(IPA: /iu/)
oio̤i
(open)(IPA: /ɔy/) (closed)(IPA: /øy/)
ai
(open)(IPA: /ɑi/) (closed)(IPA: /ai/)
uai
(open)(IPA: /uɑi/) (closed)(IPA: /uai/)
uoi
(open)(IPA: /ɑi/) (closed)(IPA: /ui/)
uioi/
(open)(IPA: /uoi/) (closed)(IPA: /ui/)
ie
(open)(IPA: /ɛi/) (closed)(IPA: /i/)
uo/
(open)(IPA: /ou/) (closed)(IPA: /u/)
e̤ṳ
(open)(IPA: /øy/) (closed)(IPA: /y/)
ah
(open)(IPA: /ɑʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /aʔ/)
iah
(open)(IPA: /iɑʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /iaʔ/)
uah
(open)(IPA: /uɑʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /uaʔ/)
a̤h
(open)(IPA: /ɛʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /eʔ/)
ieh
(open)(IPA: /iɛʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /ieʔ/)
o̤h
(open)(IPA: /ɔʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /oʔ/)
ioh
(open)(IPA: /yɔʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /yoʔ/)
uoh
(open)(IPA: /uɔʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /uoʔ/)
e̤h
(open)(IPA: /œʔ/) (closed)(IPA: /øʔ/)
ang
(open)(IPA: /ɑŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /aŋ/)
iang
(open)(IPA: /iɑŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /iaŋ/)
uang
(open)(IPA: /uɑŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /uaŋ/)
ieng
(open)(IPA: /iɛŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /ieŋ/)
iong
(open)(IPA: /yɔŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /yoŋ/)
uong
(open)(IPA: /uɔŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /uoŋ/)
ingeng
(open)(IPA: /ɛiŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /iŋ/)
ungong
(open)(IPA: /ouŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /uŋ/)
ṳnge̤ṳng
(open)(IPA: /øyŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /yŋ/)
engaing
(open)(IPA: /aiŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /eiŋ/)
ongaung
(open)(IPA: /auŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /ouŋ/)
e̤ngae̤ng
(open)(IPA: /ɔyŋ/) (closed)(IPA: /øyŋ/)

Tones[edit]

Mindong has seven different tones, as seen in the table below.

Name Pitch Tone Mark Open or closed vowel Example Notes
Ĭng-bìng
陰平/阴平
55
˥˥
˘ closed
gŭng
Same as the first tone in Mandarin.
Siōng-sĭng
上聲/上声
33
˧˧
- closed
gūng
Same as the third tone in Cantonese.
Ĭng-ké̤ṳ
陰去/阴去
213
˨˩˧
ˊ open
góng
Similar to the third tone in Mandarin, but ends on a slightly lower pitch
Ĭng-ĭk
陰入/阴入
24
˨˦
ˊ open
gók
Rising tone. 陰入/阴入 comes in two forms; "Ĭng-ĭk-gák 陰入甲/阴入甲"("-k",/k̚/) and "Ĭng-ĭk-ék 陰入乙/阴入乙" ("-h",/-ʔ/), which result in different tone sandhi patterns.
Iòng-bìng
陽平/阳平
53
˥˧
` closed
gùng
Falling tone
Iòng-ké̤ṳ
陽去/阳去
242
˨˦˨
^ open
gông
Pitch first rises then falls back to original pitch
Iòng-ĭk
陽入/阳入
5
˥
˘ closed
gŭk
Similar to 陰平/阴平 but shorter.

Tone sandhi[edit]

As with other Min dialects, Mindong has a complex tone sandhi system, which makes it a little harder to learn than Mandarin. In general, tone sandhi applies to syllables other than the last syllable of a word, and depends on the tone of the next syllable.

The table shows Mindong's tone sandhi system (pink (rows)representing the preceding syllable, and light blue (columns) representing the following syllable:

陰平, 55

陽平, 53
陽入, 5

上聲, 33

陰去, 213
陽去, 242
陰入, 24

陰平, 55
陰去, 213
陽去, 242
陰入乙, 24

55 55 53 53

陽平, 53
陽入, 5

55 33 33 21

上聲, 33
陰入甲, 24

21 21 35 55

In Mindong, tone sandhi also sometimes results in the pronunciation of the vowel changing between open and close rimes. For instance, in the place name 福州 (Hók-ciŭ), 福 on its own is pronounced (IPA: /houʔ˨˦/), while 州 on its own is pronounced (IPA: /tsiu˥˥/). However, due to tone sandhi, the tone of 福 changes from Ĭng-ĭk (陰入/阴入) to Ĭng-ké̤ṳ (陰去/阴去), and the pronunciation of the vowel also changes from the open rime (IPA: /ouʔ/) of Ĭng-ĭk to the closed rime (IPA: /uʔ/) of Ĭng-ké̤ṳ, so the resulting pronunciation of 福州 is (IPA: /huʔ˨˩ tsiu˥˥/).

Initials[edit]

Like Mandarin, Mindong distinguishes between aspirated and unaspirated consonants, not voiced and unvoiced as in English. Mindong also lacks the "tongue rolling" consosants (pinyin zh, ch, sh, r) that Mandarin has.

b
(IPA: /p/), like p in spot; pinyin b
p
(IPA: /pʰ/), like p in park
m
(IPA: /m/), like m in moon
d
(IPA: /t/), like t in stop; pinyin d
t
(IPA: /tʰ/), like t in tell
n
(IPA: /n/), like n in neat
l
(IPA: /l/), like l in leap
g
(IPA: /k/), like k in skin; pinyin g
k
(IPA: /kʰ/), like k in kite
ng
(IPA: /ŋ/), like ng in sing
h
(IPA: /h/), like h in hat
c
(IPA: /ts/), no equivalent in English, similar to zz in pizza; pinyin z
ch
(IPA: /tsʰ/), like ts in bits; pinyin c
s
(IPA: /s/), like s in sign

Initial assimilation[edit]

One unique feature of Mindong is that when preceded by another syllable in multi-syllable word, the pronunciation of the consonant often changes depending on the final consonant of the preceding syllable as seen in the table below.

Coda of the Former Syllable Initial Assimilation of the Latter Syllable
Null coda or (IPA: /-ʔ/)
(IPA: /-ŋ/)
(IPA: /-k̚/) all initials remain unchanged

Phrase list[edit]

Basics[edit]

To be or not to be?

Mindong, like Mandarin does not have words for "yes" and "no" as such; instead, questions are typically answered by repeating the verb. Here are common examples:

To be or not to be
, 伓是 ng-sê
To have or not have / there is or is not
ô, 無 mò̤
To be right or wrong
Hello.
汝好。 (Nṳ̄ hō̤)
How are you?
食𡅏未?/食咯未? (Siĕh lō̤ muôi?) lit. "Have you eaten?"
Fine, thank you.
食𡅏了。/食咯了。(Siĕh lō̤ lāu) lit. "I've already eaten.
What is your name?
汝號甚乇名字? (Nṳ̄ hô̤ sié-nó̤h miàng-cê?) / 汝告甚乇名字? (Nṳ̄ gó̤ sié-nó̤h miàng-cê?)
My name is ______ .
我是______。 (Nguāi sê _____.) / 我其名字號𡅏______。 (Nguāi gì miàng-cê hô̤ lā̤ _____.)
Nice to meet you.
野歡喜看見汝。 (Ia huang-hi kang-gieng nṳ.)
Please.
. ( )
Thank you.
謝定。 (Siâ diâng.)
You're welcome.
無客氣。 (Mò̤ káik-ké.) / 無細膩。(Mò̤ sa̤-na̤.)
Excuse me. (getting attention)
. ( )
Excuse me. (begging pardon)
. ( )
I'm sorry.
對𣍐住。 (Dó̤i mâ̤ cê̤ṳ.) / 豈重。 (Kī-dâe̤ng.)
Goodbye
再見 (Cái-giéng)
Goodbye (informal)
先走噢了。 (Sĕng giàng o̤ lāu.)
I can't speak Fuzhou dialect.
我𣍐仈講福州话. (Nguāi mâ̤ báik gōng Hók-ciŭ-uâ)
Do you speak English?
? ( ?)
Is there someone here who speaks English?
? ( ?)
Help!
! ( !)
Look out!
注意! (Cé̤ṳ-é!)
Good morning.
早。 (Cā.)
Good evening.
. ( )
Good night.
. ( )
Good night (to sleep)
. ( )
I don't understand.
我𣍐會意。 (Nguāi mâ̤ huôi-é.)
Where is the toilet?
底呢有廁所? (Diē-nè̤ ô cháik-sū?)

Problems[edit]

Leave me alone.
. ( .)
Don't touch me!
! ( !)
I'll call the police.
我卜報警噢了。 (Nguāi buóh bó̤ gīng o̤ lāu.)
Police!
警察! (Gīng-chák!)
Stop! Thief!
! ! ( ! !)
I need your help.
我需要汝其幫忙。 (Nguāi sṳ̆-iéu nṳ̄ gì bŏng-mòng.)
It's an emergency.
嚽是緊急情況。 (Cuòi sê gīng-gék cìng-huóng.)
I'm lost.
我行拍逿墿噢。 (Nguāi giàng páh-dâung-duô o̤.)
I lost my bag.
我其包包拍無噢。 (Nguāi gì bău-bău páh-mò̤ o̤.)
I lost my wallet.
我其錢包拍逿噢。 (Nguāi gì cièng-bău páh-dâung o̤.)
I'm sick.
. ( .)
I've been injured.
我受傷噢。 (Nguāi sêu-siŏng o̤.)
I need a doctor.
我需要醫生。 (Nguāi sṳ̆-iéu ĭ-sĕng.)
Can I use your phone?
會使撮汝其電話拍蜀拍𣍐? (Â̤ sāi chŏk nṳ̄ gì diêng-uâ páh siŏh páh mâ̤?)

Numbers[edit]

0
零 (lìng) / 環 (kuàng)
1
一 (ék) / 蜀 (siŏh) — Both can be used when counting, but only 蜀 is used with counter words
2
二 () / 兩(lâng)— Both can be used when counting, but only 兩 is used with counter words
3
三 (săng)
4
四 ()
5
五 (ngô)
6
六 (lĕ̤k)
7
七 (chék)
8
八 (báik)
9
九 (gāu)
10
十 (sék)
11
十一 (sék-ék)
12
十二 (sék-nê)
13
( )
14
( )
15
( )
16
( )
17
( )
18
( )
19
( )
20
二十 (nê-sék) / 廿 (niék) — 二十 is usually used when counting, but 廿 is used with counter words
21
廿一 (niék-ék)
22
廿二 (niék-nê)
23
( )
30
( )
40
( )
50
( )
60
( )
70
( )
80
( )
90
( )
100
蜀百 (siŏh-báik)
200
兩百 (lâng-báik)
300
( )
1,000
蜀千 (siŏh-chiĕng)
2,000
兩千 (lâng-chiĕng)
10,000
蜀萬 (siŏh-uâng)
1,000,000
( )
100,000,000
蜀億 (siŏh-é)
1,000,000,000
( )
1,000,000,000,000
( )
number _____ (train, bus, etc.)
( )
half
蜀半 (siŏh-buáng)
less
( )
more
( )

Time[edit]

now
( )
later
( )
before
( )
morning
( )
afternoon
( )
evening
( )
night
( )

Clock time[edit]

one o'clock AM
( )
two o'clock AM
( )
noon
( )
one o'clock PM
( )
two o'clock PM
( )
midnight
( )

Duration[edit]

_____ minute(s)
( )
_____ hour(s)
( )
_____ day(s)
( )
_____ week(s)
( )
_____ month(s)
( )
_____ year(s)
( )

Days[edit]

today
( )
yesterday
( )
tomorrow
( )
this week
( )
last week
( )
next week
( )
Sunday
( )
Monday
( )
Tuesday
( )
Wednesday
( )
Thursday
( )
Friday
( )
Saturday
( )

Months[edit]

January
( )
February
( )
March
( )
April
( )
May
( )
June
( )
July
( )
August
( )
September
( )
October
( )
November
( )
December
( )

Writing time and date[edit]

Colors[edit]

black
( )
white
( )
gray
( )
red
( )
blue
( )
yellow
( )
green
( )
orange
( )
purple
( )
brown
( )

Transportation[edit]

Bus and train[edit]

How much is a ticket to _____?
( )
One ticket to _____, please.
( )
Where does this train/bus go?
( )
Where is the train/bus to _____?
( )
Does this train/bus stop in _____?
( )
When does the train/bus for _____ leave?
( )
When will this train/bus arrive in _____?
( )

Directions[edit]

How do I get to _____ ?
( )
...the train station?
( )
...the bus station?
( )
...the airport?
( )
...downtown?
( )
...the youth hostel?
( )
...the _____ hotel?
( )
...the American/Canadian/Australian/British consulate?
( )
Where are there a lot of...
( )
...hotels?
( )
...restaurants?
( )
...bars?
( )
...sites to see?
( )
Can you show me on the map?
( )
street
( )
Turn left.
( )
Turn right.
( )
left
( )
right
( )
straight ahead
( )
towards the _____
( )
past the _____
( )
before the _____
( )
Watch for the _____.
( )
intersection
( )
north
( )
south
( )
east
( )
west
( )
uphill
( )
downhill
( )

Taxi[edit]

Taxi!
( )
Take me to _____, please.
( )
How much does it cost to get to _____?
( )
Take me there, please.
( )

Lodging[edit]

Do you have any rooms available?
( )
How much is a room for one person/two people?
( )
Does the room come with...
( )
...bedsheets?
( )
...a bathroom?
( )
...a telephone?
( )
...a TV?
( )
May I see the room first?
( )
Do you have anything quieter?
( )
...bigger?
( )
...cleaner?
( )
...cheaper?
( )
OK, I'll take it.
( )
I will stay for _____ night(s).
( )
Can you suggest another hotel?
( )
Do you have a safe?
( )
...lockers?
( )
Is breakfast/supper included?
( )
What time is breakfast/supper?
( )
Please clean my room.
( )
Can you wake me at _____?
( )
I want to check out.
( )

Money[edit]

Do you accept American/Australian/Canadian dollars?
( )
Do you accept British pounds?
( )
Do you accept Euros?
( )
Do you accept credit cards?
( )
Can you change money for me?
( )
Where can I get money changed?
( )
Can you change a traveler's check for me?
( )
Where can I get a traveler's check changed?
( )
What is the exchange rate?
( )
Where is an automatic teller machine (ATM)?
( )

Eating[edit]

A table for one person/two people, please.
( )
Can I look at the menu, please?
( )
Can I look in the kitchen?
( )
Is there a house specialty?
( )
Is there a local specialty?
( )
I'm a vegetarian.
( )
I don't eat pork.
( )
I don't eat beef.
( )
I only eat kosher food.
( )
Can you make it "lite", please? (less oil/butter/lard)
( )
fixed-price meal
( )
a la carte
( )
breakfast
( )
lunch
( )
tea (meal)
( )
supper
( )
I want _____.
( )
I want a dish containing _____.
( )
chicken
( )
beef
( )
fish
( )
ham
( )
sausage
( )
cheese
( )
eggs
( )
salad
( )
(fresh) vegetables
( )
(fresh) fruit
( )
bread
( )
toast
( )
noodles
( )
rice
( )
beans
( )
May I have a glass of _____?
( )
May I have a cup of _____?
( )
May I have a bottle of _____?
( )
coffee
( )
tea (drink)
( )
juice
( )
(bubbly) water
( )
(still) water
( )
beer
( )
red/white wine
( )
May I have some _____?
( )
salt
( )
black pepper
( )
butter
( )
Excuse me, waiter? (getting attention of server)
( )
I'm finished.
( )
It was delicious.
( )
Please clear the plates.
( )
The check, please.
( )

Bars[edit]

Do you serve alcohol?
( )
Is there table service?
( )
A beer/two beers, please.
( )
A glass of red/white wine, please.
( )
A pint, please.
( )
A bottle, please.
( )
_____ (hard liquor) and _____ (mixer), please.
( )
whiskey
( )
vodka
( )
rum
( )
water
( )
club soda
( )
tonic water
( )
orange juice
( )
Coke (soda)
( )
Do you have any bar snacks?
( )
One more, please.
( )
Another round, please.
( )
When is closing time?
( )
Cheers!
( )

Shopping[edit]

Do you have this in my size?
( )
How much is this?
( )
That's too expensive.
( )
Would you take _____?
( )
expensive
( )
cheap
( )
I can't afford it.
( )
I don't want it.
我不要 (mori)
You're cheating me.
( )
I'm not interested.
(..)
OK, I'll take it.
( )
Can I have a bag?
( )
Do you ship (overseas)?
( )
I need...
( )
...toothpaste.
( )
...a toothbrush.
( )
...tampons.
. ( )
...soap.
( )
...shampoo.
( )
...pain reliever. (e.g., aspirin or ibuprofen)
( )
...cold medicine.
( )
...stomach medicine.
... ( )
...a razor.
( )
...an umbrella.
( )
...sunblock lotion.
( )
...a postcard.
( )
...postage stamps.
( )
...batteries.
( )
...writing paper.
( )
...a pen.
( )
...English-language books.
( )
...English-language magazines.
( )
...an English-language newspaper.
( )
...an English-English dictionary.
( )

Driving[edit]

I want to rent a car.
( )
Can I get insurance?
( )
stop (on a street sign)
( )
one way
( )
yield
( )
no parking
( )
speed limit
( )
gas (petrol) station
( )
petrol
( )
diesel
( )

Authority[edit]

I haven't done anything wrong.
( )
It was a misunderstanding.
( )
Where are you taking me?
( )
Am I under arrest?
( )
I am an American/Australian/British/Canadian citizen.
( )
I want to talk to the American/Australian/British/Canadian embassy/consulate.
( )
I want to talk to a lawyer.
( )
Can I just pay a fine now?
( )

Learning more[edit]

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