Bungieen kab peqoe
Literary vs colloquial
- Colloquial readings ( ) are usually used in normal speech.
- Literary readings (Harnji are usually used in formal loan words or names, when reading aloud and in formal settings. ) of
- For example, the Harnji 白 has two readings:
- Colloquial: , as in (Chinese cabbage)
- Literary: , as in (confession)
- Some characters have multiple and unrelated pronunciations, adapted to represent Hokkien words. For example, the word baq ("meat") may be written with the character 肉, which has etymologically unrelated colloquial and literary readings:
- Literary: 骨肉; flesh and blood; kindred) , as in (
- Vernacular readings, called 俗), are relatively rare. See (埠), (錄), (劇), for example. (
The following examples show differences in literary and colloquial readings in Taiwanese Hokkien.
The following chart illustrates some of the more commonly seen sound shifts:
|[ts-], [tsʰ-], [tɕ-], [tɕʰ-]||[s-], [ɕ-]||成||to become|
|[k-], [kʰ-]||[tɕ-], [tɕʰ-]||指||finger|
|[-ã], [-uã]||[-an]||看||to see|
|[-ia]||[-i]||徛‡ / 企||to stand|
Sorji (數字; Numbers)
This feature extends to Chinese numerals, which have both literary and colloquial readings. Literary readings are typically used when the numerals are read out loud (e.g. phone numbers), while colloquial readings are used for counting items (see sorji and tiexn'oe).
|1||2||3 / 三||4 / 四||5 / 五||6 / 六||7 / 七||8 / 八||9 / 九||10 / 十|
|Peh||cit (蜀)||nng (兩)||svaf||six||go||lak||chid||peq||kao||zap|
|Buun||id (一)||ji (二)||safm||sux||gvor||liok||pad||kiuo||sip|
In Hokkien, reading pronunciations (thag'ym 讀音) differ from spoken pronunciations/explications (gwym 語音 / kayseq 解說). Hokkien dictionaries in Taiwan often differentiate between such character readings with the prefixes 文 ( ) for literary readings, and 白 ( / ) for colloquial readings (see Taioaan Banlamguo Siong'iong-Suu Sutiern).
The bulk of literary readings (bunthak Toong) dynasty and mainly used in formal phrases and written language (e.g. philosophical concepts, surnames, and some place names). For example, see Most Common Surnames in Taiwan and Laixgoaxkhøf Kharnhoxhak. Literary readings tend to be more similar to the pronunciations of the Tang standard of Middle Chinese than their colloquial equivalents. The colloquial (or vernacular) readings (peqthak 白讀) are basically used in spoken language and vulgar (ordinary/common) phrases.文讀) are based on pronunciations of the vernacular during the Tang (
The divergence between literary and colloquial is due to several strata in the Min lexicon. The earliest, colloquial stratum is traced to the Han Dynasty (206 BCE - 220 CE, Haxn); the second colloquial one comes from the period of the Southern and Northern Dynasties (420 - 589 CE, Lampaktiaau); the third stratum of pronunciations (typically literary ones) comes from the Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD, Toong). (Note: this could be why literary readings sound closer to Mandarin than colloquial. With names and numbers often being read in Mandarin, it has been suggested that Mandarin is effectively replacing literary Hokkien in Taiwanese.)