Saturday, March 10, 2012


Roaming linguists on the internet will be pleased to note that Wikipedia is also available for their reading pleasure in the Hakka language.

From the Wiki page on Hakka speech: "Hak-kâ ngî-ngièn' (yú miàng Hak-kâ-fa / Hak-kâ-va, kán chhin Hak-Ngî) he Hon-ngî chhit-thai ngî-ngièn chû-yit. Hak-ngì yû kí chûng, fûn m̂-thùng kai thi̍t set. Yung Hak-ngì-chá kîn-chhoî Chûng-koet nàm fông kí sén: Kóng-thûng, Fuk-kien, Kông-sî, Kóng-sî, Si-chhôn, Fù-nàm, Kui-chû, Hoí-nám taú laû Thoì-vân. Chhoî fà-thi chû ngoi, yû haú-tó koet-kâ tû yû hiaú-kóng Hak-ngì kai yung-chá hi kî-mìn. Yîn-koet fò khì thâ Eû-chû koet-ga, Mî-koet, Fî-chû, Nàm Thai-phìn-yòng, Yin-thu, Fî-lṳ̍t-pîn, Mâ-loì-sî-â, Au-zu tén thi fông tû yû."


Translation: "The Hakka spoken language (also called Hakka dialect or abbreviated as 'Hak-speak'), is one of the seven great spoken language groups of China. There are mutually unintelligible variants of Hakka.
Users of the Hakka language are mostly in provinces of Southern China, such as Canton, Fukien, Kiangsi, Kwangsi, Szechuan, Hunan, Kueichow, Hainan Island, and Taiwan. Elsewhere in the world there are speakers of Hakka in many places. Besides Great Britain, speakers can be found in other European countries, the United States, Africa, the Southern Pacific regions, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, Australia, and several places else."


Like with the term dialect, as used in the Chinese context, the term ethnicity is imprecise and must be used with caution. The seven spoken language groups mentioned above differ from each other quite as much as the branches of the European tongues, consequently Yue (粤), Gan (贛), Ke (客), Min (閩), Hsiang (湘), Wu (吳語), and Mandarin (官語) are as distinct from each other as German, Danish, Dutch, English, und zo weiter.  Within each Sinitic 'language', there may be innumerable dialects ranging across the entire spectrum of possible intelligibilities.
Ethnicity, when used within a Chinese context, does not necessarily mean of different racial origin, but more accurately describes group cultural and social differences of very long standing.

The Hakka are Han (漢), but they have their own cultural ("ethnic") norms underneath the common meta-culture that all ethnic Chinese share.
Some of those differences are due to history, some because of environment, some language-based.

[Yue (粤): Cantonese. Gan (贛): Jiangsi language.  Ke (客): Hakka, spoken in Canton province, parts of Fujian, Taiwan, Szechuan, and many other places - see above. Min (閩): The entire Min (Fujian) dialect group, including Teochew, Amoy, Chuangchow, and Foochow, with speakers in Canton province, Fujian, Taiwan, many South-east Asian countries, and elsewhere. Hsiang (湘): Spoken mostly in Hunan (湖南), but also in parts of Szechuan (蜀) and Kwangsi (廣西). Wu (吳語): Shanghainese, Soochow language, and relatives. Mandarin (官語): The official language of China, based on the northern vernacular, spoken as a native tongue across a vast expanse.]

Two of my favourite Cantonese movie stars are Cherie Chung (鍾楚紅) and Chow Yun-fat (周潤發).
Like many Hong Kong people, they are also of Hakka descent.
Great actors. Great screen personalities.
And both totally dishy.

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Several years ago I had a coworker down the peninsula who would leave work related voicemails on people's answering machines all weekend...