First off, welcome to the ChineseLanguage.org Hokkien (Minnan) Forum
! As you may have figured out, a number of us here have been active for quite a few years. I hope you can find useful information within its pages that may serve to supplement your work.
The members (old and new) and casual visitors of this Forum hail not just from Penang Hokkien-speaking background, but also from other Hokkien backgrounds, e.g. Singapore, Indonesia (Bagansiapiapi, Medan), the Philippines and Taiwan (although admittedly, the Penang Hokkien variety has tended to feature most often in discussion threads, due to the larger percentage representation of active members here).
As a result, discussions regarding vocabulary and syntax tend to cross borders, making comparisons between the ways in which things are expressed in different sub-dialects of Hokkien are often made, identifying any cross-pollination that may have taken place (point in context: Penang Hokkien is based upon the 漳州 Tsiang-Tsiu
dialect, but is not 100% 漳州 Tsiang-Tsiu
), and tracing the common etymological origins of words, are the norm. In this way, we celebrate our respective identities, yet at the same time acknowledge our part of the family of Hokkien languages, or to use the more correct term, the 「閩南」 Bân-Lâm
In order to facilitate such a broad audience encompassing so many different strains of Hokkien, it is therefore natural that the Romanisation system(s) employed should be:
3. Widely-recognised in linguistic circles
4. Able to document with fidelity, the pronunciations of as many (if not all) of the different variants as possible
The effort that you have put in to create your own unique “TJ” Romanisation of Penang Hokkien is certainly commendable, as amhoanna
has alluded to in the opening line of his comments, so I hope you take his and the others’ comments in a positive light (if we sound somewhat harsh, it is only because it reflects on our passion for the subject
). But by the same token, because of the large varieties of Hokkien discussed within this particular Forum, the use of a Romanisation system that is designed to only accommodate Penang Hokkien (complete with its own nuances and legacy of unique colonial-originated spellings) will be very limiting (and somewhat divisive, too). For instance, simplifying the number of tones from the standard eight (8) to just (4) in “TJ” is great for Penang Hokkien, but becomes a problem when comparing tone sandhi
other variants that employ some or all of the other four (4) remaining tones. amhoanna
has already spoken at lengths regarding the problems of colonial legacy-based spellings which, although taken for granted within Penang Hokkien itself, are totally alien to other variants of Hokkien, so I will not repeat his points here. Suffice to say, discussing only Penang Hokkien to the exclusion of the other variants of Hokkien, and the use of a Penang Hokkien-only Romanisation system to that effect, is certainly not
in keeping with the ecumenical spirit and objectives of this Forum.
I myself was a newcomer to 「白話字」 Pɛh-Oa-Ji
when I first joined this Forum in late-2005. Andrew
can probably tell you, it was a bit of a learning curve for me. But long-term (and like most learning curves in life) the effort paid off - because now, those of us who use it when describing the pronunciations of words in our respective variants of Hokkien, can be certain that we are singing off the same songsheet, and there are no doubts or ambiguities. Furthermore, this being an English-language-medium Forum, where a number of the members are not educated in Chinese characters, an accurate and universally-recognised Romanisation system becomes even more important in transmitting the pronunciation of words correctly, especially given the homomyns and tonal nature of Hokkien (and just about any other Chinese dialect in general). Otherwise, there is no sure way of determining whether a certain word in Penang Hokkien is pronounced the same, slightly different, or totally different from, say, Kelanatanese Hokkien, Bagansiapiapi Hokkien or Medan Hokkien. I can testify that amhoanna
’s Alor Setar friend's experience is consistent with mine: I, too, have encountered virtually no
problems in transcribing the pronunciations and tones of Penang Hokkien using 「白話字」 Pɛh-Oa-Ji
- Malay loanwords and all. If anything, my use of 「白話字」 Pɛh-Oa-Ji
has increased both my awareness
towards correct pronunciation and correct notation - Penang Hokkien or otherwise.
Last, but not least, please let me assure you that my use of 「白話字」 Pɛh-Oa-Ji
notwithstanding, I, too, owe no
allegiance to Taiwanese or Amoy Hokkien - apart from the profound appreciation of a shared common legacy with the greater corpus of the 「閩南」 Bân-Lâm
language family. Beyond that, I identify myself as a speaker of orthodox Penang Hokkien.