Guide to writing Penang Hokkien in the TJ System

Discussions on the Hokkien (Minnan) language.
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Joined: Thu Jul 04, 2013 8:26 am

Guide to writing Penang Hokkien in the TJ System

Post by timothytye »


I realise that in the past, I have created lessons for beginners, for visitors to Penang, for expatriates, for EVERYBODY except for the people who already speak Penang Hokkien. So, finally, a lesson specially for people who have been speaking Penang Hokkien as their mother tongue, and wish to move towards literacy in the TJ System. Everything is totally FREE. No need to attend classes, no need to buy dictionary or textbook, everything is provided free for you to learn at your own pace, and you can do it whether you are in Penang or Pennsylvania!

If you have already known a different system for writing Hokkien, but are keen to learn this system, I would urge you to park your existing knowledge. Take the advice of Master Yoda and, "Unlearn what you have learned," so that you don't allow your existing knowledge to intrude and confuse you.


Imagine for a moment being able to communicate with your children studying overseas, or with your parents back home, in the language you speak at home. While you can use English and Mandarin, there's nothing like the intimacy of writing in your own household language.

In the past, Penang Hokkien speakers simply transcribe the sound of Hokkien words, expecting the reader to glean the meaning from context. This form of communication has a high margin of ambiguity. Take, for example:

Wah beh cit ciak kau.

Is that "I buy a dog", "I sell a dog", "I buy a monkey" or "I sell a monkey"? Without the benefit of context, anything is possible. The TJ System that you are about to learn disambiguate such sentences, leaving no doubt over their meaning.

long kaw knia

If someone writes the above sentence, does he mean "small drain" or "hit a little puppy"? We do not know. However, if he is literate in Penang Hokkien, he would not be transcribing sounds. He would use the exact words for the meaning he wishes to convey. If he wants to say "small drain", he would write "long3kau3 knia4", if he intends to write to mean "hit a little puppy", he would write "long3 kaw1 knia4"

So now, if you want to end a life of Penang Hokkien illiteracy, and start writing the language so that someone else who understand this system understands you, go to the lesson now: ... okkien.htm