At the back of the hill

Warning: If you stay here long enough you will gain weight! Grazing here strongly suggests that you are either omnivorous, or a glutton. And you might like cheese-doodles.
BTW: I'm presently searching for another person who likes cheese-doodles.
Please form a caseophilic line to the right. Thank you.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A FEARSOME LANGUAGE: 温州話

Pursuant a discussion on the facebook page of "nummer 39 met rijst" anent Dutch racism, particularly the casual bigotry displayed towards people of Chinese ancestry in the Netherlands, it struck me that among the Chinese Netherlanders there are, in fact, two common tongues: Dutch and English.
The reason for this is simple. Recent immigrants are familiar with English and still learning Dutch. People born there, however, grow up speaking Dutch on a daily basis, but learn English in highschool.

Neither Dutch nor English are Mandarin.
Which is the dominant form of Chinese.


So what do Dutch Chinese learn from their parents?


More than likely, the family does not speak Mandarin around the dinner table. Nor, in all likelihood, Cantonese, which is the most common form of Chinese in San Francisco, despite all those snooty provincials from elsewhere opening foot massage places in C'town.

One of the languages spoken around the dinner table is Wen Chow dialect.

Which is almighty peculiar.


天不怕地不怕,就怕温州人説温州話!
["Tin pat paa tei pat paa, jau paa wan jau yan suet wan jau waa!"]


Wenzhouhua (溫州話) is part of the Wu language (吳語) family, which is the dominant speech in Shanghai (上海), Soochow (蘇州), Hangchow (杭州), Ningpo (寧波), Chinhwa (金華) and Shiaohsing (紹興), et autres regiones, and is know for being soft and hissing, much like a leaky steamheater in an older apartment.

[吳語 Ng-yu: One of the major branches of Sinitic which started developing over two and a half millennia ago. 上海 Seung hoi: Shanghai, a well-known mercantile coastal metropolis that rose to prominence during the great age of imperialism.
蘇州 Sou jau: One of eastern China's great cultural cities, known for flowers, gardens (蘇州園林 'sou jau yuen lam'), poetry, and clear-skinned women. It is located an the Grand Canal (大運河 'daai wan ho'), which was built over several centuries, starting during the Spring And Autumn Period (春秋時代 771 BCE to 476 BCE), and continuing on through Sui (隋 581-618) and subsequent dynasties.
It was restored during Ming (大明 1368–1644) and Ch'ing (大清 1644–1912).
杭州 Hong jau: One of Chinese famous cities of culture, about which much poetry has been written, and where many famous intellectuals spent formative years. It is said that above us there is heaven, while here on earth there are Hangchow and Soochow (上有天堂下有蘇杭 'seung yau tin tong, haa yau sou hong').
寧波 Ning pou: an important commercial city on the coast. 金華 Kam waa: well-known for superior hams. 紹興 Siu hing: where the best yellow wine comes from. 
Note: pronunciations in Cantonese, because that is the most useful.]

Among the Wu dialects there is considerable differentiation, with often a very low degree of mutual intelligibility. The elegant Soochow dialect has the greatest status, with Shanghainese (which largely derives from it) being given far less respect.
Wenchowese is the most peculiar.

"Fear not heaven, fear not earth; just fear Wenchow people speaking the Wenchow language!"

As Wu languages go, its divergence from the norm is due to isolation and the proximity of North-Eastern Min (閩東語), from which it has borrowed much. The situation is analogous to English, a Germanic language with a huge amount of Mediaeval French and Latin. That then is compounded by unique phonology and tones. With, of course, the accepted written language utilizing a vocabulary seldom encountered in speech.


No, this blogger does not speak Wenzhouhua. The local restaurant in the town where I grew up was owned by folks from Zhejiang (浙江 'jit gong'), but the kitchen staff were Cantonese, and the headwaiter came from Shanghai. Although everyone had spent time in Hongkong.


So I've heard something similar (Wenchow is located in Zhejiang), both from the proprietors and their families, and the headwaiter.
But I never learned it.

A pity, because one of the young ladies was extraordinarily nice.

It's something I've always regretted.


門不當,戶不對。
["Mun pat dong, wu pat deui."]


She entered highschool when I was already finishing my fourth year.

It would have been unsuitable, even by Dutch standards.

There was just too great a differential there.

Despite two languages in common.



Even so, she was very nice.




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2 Comments:

  • At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Un Mentionable said…

    You should have pursued it, bugger unsuitability. Surely you have done far more usuitable (or even unspeakable) things since returning to the States?

    What happened to her.

     
  • At 10:33 AM, Anonymous Un Mentionable said…

    "What happened to her."

    That's a question. Omitted question mark accidentally.

    What happened to her?

     

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