A spectacular background and story, Future Spy. Bem-vindo a este foro.
U can always ask questions here. It's always a pleasure to help a Hoklo learner. I learned Hoklo as an adult, without having a Hoklo heritage. So did two of the other foreros.
So is it a better idea using romanization instead for this set of words?
In my opinion, a strong yes -- romanization or, theoretically, some other kind of phonetic writing system. But my view seems to be a minority view.
That's just a bunch of unconnected reasons, but basically that's why I want to learn Hokkien.
I also had a number of unconnected reasons. Finding out about how widely spoken Hoklo was "down south" in the equatorial zone was one of my motivators as well. I mean, I always knew Hoklo was spoken down there, but originally I thought it was just a few families here and there, not all around town as is the case in Penang, Medan, Singapore, etc.
I want to learn Taiwanese first, but later learn the differences with Amoy (and perhaps Penang) and how to avoid Japanese loans in order to communicate with other Hokkien speakers as well.
Mainstream Taiwanese is actually closer to Amoy than other China-side dialects are to Amoy -- at least in terms of phonology and basic and "old" vocabulary. Counter-intuitive but true. This is a reflection of history, of powerful cross-Strait connections that extended down to Java and from Luzon to Burma before the Cold War and nationalist States shut it down.
Penang-Medan Hokkien is a beautiful outlier... In some ways, TWnese, Amoy, and most of the dialects of the Phils and M'sia/Sg are much more "internally consistent". On the other hand, Phuket Hoklo (dead or dying) and Burma Hoklo (dying?) seem to be in line with Penang-Medan Hokkien. They are really a kingdom unto their own: "Andaman Hokkien." And this forum is in some ways their cult!
Most of the Japanese loans in Taiwanese are Sino-Japanese calques that were also borrowed into Korean and Chinese at roughly the same time, and from there into Vietnamese, Amoy Hoklo, etc. There's also a lot of Japanese loans in machine-related contexts that were English loans into JPnese, such as "hantóluh" STEERING WHEEL. There are cases where the M'sians or Tsinoys will actually have a "real Hoklo-sounding word" for the same thing. If you search here for "steel", U'll find a cool post on this topic.
Old city cats in TW may code-switch with beaucoup Japanese, but if we define a loan as something that a farmer in southern Taiwan with no Japanese education would use or understand, then there's really not that many loans from "native Japanese".
Speaking of Port., I always think of the difference between Hokkien and Teochew as being analogous to Port. vs. Esp., while the Haklau spoken around Soàⁿboé 汕尾 and Háihong 海豐 plays the part of Galician.
Maryknoll Taiwanese is a great resource. It was really well-edited -- pretty much mistake-free. Also, in their texts they label where U should use the "running tone" vs the "standing tone". I thought this was priceless. Before I bought Maryknoll, I was a stammering idiot b/c I was always trying to guess where to use which.
A friend of mine used to joke that Hokkien was great to swear... (Is that some kind of cliché joke?
A stereotype that won't go away. The KMT literati and Harry Lee (Kuan Yew) have been promoting this stereotype for decades in a sneaky effort to clear Hoklo off "their" islands. On the other hand, it's prob. true that KMT/Taiwanese Mandarin and Sing. English have not been good languages to swear in. Any language introduced from the top down will tend to lack color.
There's a counter-attack in the form of claims that Hoklo is directly derived with minimal alterations from the court language of some unspecified Chinese dynasty, as if southern Hokkien was the Brasil to the Yellow River's Portugal as the royalty fled south and ensconced their culture in the hills of Hokkien.
I know, however, most speakers are eldery.
Or workingclass. There are still people in their 20s and maybe teens in TW who speak Hoklo better than Mandarin. But I find that they're socially walled off from me when I go there.
We've also had "reports", right here, that the Philippines is an exception to the widespread leaching of Hoklo from the youth...
Taipak / Taihoku is a solid Mandophone city now, but even in the early 90s there were neighborhoods where the kids spoke Hoklo to each other
. Change came fast. These kids are 35 now and some no longer speak Hoklo except with aging relatives.
Another reason why I'm learning Hokkien is that hanji and Japanese kanji pronunciations are much closer (looking at them isolated and ignoring the way they form compounds and frequency of use, of course) than Mandarin hanzi in many cases
Much but not all of this is shared with Korean, Cantonese, etc.... Japanese, Hoklo, Hokciu, etc. share influences from an ancient form of 江東 ("River's East") Chinese probably centered around where Northern Wu is spoken today. The "layers" of Chinese in Japanese and those in Hoklo are probably closely related, since they probably reflect high-water marks in the soft power of different North and East China juggernauts... The "New Chinese" powers of the last 800 yrs or so have been so land-based, so land-bound, that the seaboard and the islands offshore still vibrate at the frequency of an older "China"...