Learn Basic Fujian Language – Min Chinese

Fujian Language
Say "Hello" in Fujian Language

Fujian language is the dialect originated and mainly used in Fujian Province. Fujian is also known as Min for short, therefore Fujian language is called Min Chinese as well. Some people in adjacent provinces and overseas Fujian people speak Fujian language as well. Fujian language can be divided in five subdialects according to its spoken regions of Northern Fujian, Southern Fujian, Eastern Fujian, Central Fujian and Pu-Xi'an area, among which Southern Fujian dialect, Min Nan Hua in Chinese is the most influential in Chinese communities abroad. Nowadays, the number of native speakers of Southern Fujian dialect is over 95 million.

Daily Expressions of Fujian Language

Fujian Language Chinese Pinyin English Meaning
汝好 rǔ hǎo Hello
敖早 áo zǎo Good morning.
歹势 dǎi shì Sorry / Excuse me
多谢 duō xiè Thank you
再会 zài huì Goodbye
看着你真欢喜。 kàn zhe nǐ zhēn huān xǐ Nice to meet you!
我着是。/我毋是啦。 wǒ zhe shì /wǒ wú shì lā I am. / I’m not.
汝号做啥物名? rǔ hào zuò shá wù míng What is your name?
汝啥侬? rǔ shá nóng Who are you?
我是… wǒ shì … I’m ... / My name is ...
这是啥物? zhè shì shá wù What’s this?
这敢是汝的? zhè gǎn shì rǔ de Is this yours?
是我的。 shì wǒ de It’s mine.
汝咧创啥? rǔ liě chuàng shá What are you doing?
我咧看册。 wǒ liě kàn cè I’m reading a book.
汝卜去叨? rǔ bo qù dāo Where are you going?
食未? shí wèi Did you have your dinner?


History of Fujian Language

The origins of Fujian language can be dated back to Xia Dynasty (21st - 17th century BC), as it is developed from the language used at that time. In late Warring States Period (475 - 221 BC), the Yue State was destroyed, and the Yue people who were the descendants of Xia escaped to Fujian. The language and the local primitive language fused gradually to form the rudiment of Fujian language.

After the establishment of Qin Dynasty (221 - 207 BC), the Min Chinese developed with the unity of words. Up to the time of Five Dynasties and Ten States (907 - 960 AD), Fuzhou language became the official language because the Min State (909 – 945 AD) built the capital in Fuzhou. In Ming (1368 - 1644 AD) and Qing (1644 - 1911 AD) Dynasties, Min Chinese had been a dialect with a complete and independent writing system and a complete phonetic system in Chinese characters. Later it spread abroad with overseas immigrants.

Who speaks Fujian Language?

Fujian language is spoken by people mainly in Fujian, Taiwan, southern Zhejiang, eastern Guangdong, part of Hainan, some Chinese communities abroad. In addition, in several counties in northeast of Jiangxi, and a few places in Jiangsu and central and southern Guangxi, some people speak Min Chinese as well. In Taiwan, the people speaking Min Chinese accounts for more than the three-quarters of Taiwan's whole population. In some countries in Southeast Asia, such as Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, Myanmar, etc., Fujian language is one of the main languages to communicate in Chinese communities.

Fujian Language Distribution Map
Distribution Map of Fujian Language

Retain the Practices of Ancient Chinese

There are a large amount of frequent liaisons and modified tones in Fujian language, and many words have variant pronunciations in literary and colloquial readings, which are all the features from ancient Chinese. Meanwhile, Min Chinese keeps a lot of ancient Chinese words and monosyllables, becoming the only dialect that has the characteristics of Chinese used in Xia Dynasty 5,000 years ago.

Differing Every Ten Li (3 Miles)

Fujian language has large internal differences, especially in rhyme and phonology. It is said that the accent changes every 10 li (3 miles), in particular in central and northern Fujian, where people cannot even talk to each other successfully if they live on the two sides of a mountain. Generally speaking, the closer to the coastal areas, the easier to understand what they speak for the convenient transportation, more frequent communication and the influence of official languages.

5 Subdialects of Fujian Language

Fujian language includes five major subdialects according to areas: Southern Fujian, Eastern Fujian, Northern Fujian, Central Fujian and Pu-Xi'an Dialects. However, there are scholars who have come up with the idea that these five languages are independent of each other, and aren’t attached to Min Chinese except for in region.

Southern Fujian Dialect

Southern Fujian dialect, also known as Hokkien, is what nonlocals called Fujian language. In Southeast Asia, the Min Chinese usually refers to Southern Fujian dialect, too. Based on Xiamen dialect, Southern Fujian Chinese is used in south of Fujian Province, most areas of Taiwan and few parts of south Zhejiang. It has an extremely huge influence in overseas Chinese communities with the position only after Cantonese, having the largest number of population who use it abroad.

Eastern Fujian Dialect

Eastern Fujian dialect, with a total number of users estimated to be over 10 million, is the Fujian language spoken in eastern Fujian, including the areas of the lower reach of Min River centered in Fuzhou, most part of Ningde, and Matsu Islands in Taiwan. Chinese in Indonesia, Brunei, East Malaysia, Sitiawan in West Malaysia, Japan and some areas in Europe speak Eastern Fujian dialect. Usually in North America, the Fujian language means the Fuzhou dialect, the representative of Eastern Fujian dialect.

Northern Fujian Dialect

Northern Fujian dialect is used throughout the northern part of Fujian Province, including the counties and cities in Jian’ou, Jianyang, Nanping, Mount Wuyi area, Shunchang, Songxi, etc. People in Pucheng, south Fujian also speak northern Fujian Chinese. It is the oldest Fujian language developed from ancient Chinese, and it is represented by Jian’ou dialect.

Central Fujian Dialect

Central Fujian dialect is used in some central mountainous districts of Fujian Province, such as in Sanming, and Yong’an and Shaxian County under the jurisdiction. Taking the Yong’an dialect as the representative, Central Fujian Chinese is the Fujian language with the least number of people who speak it and the narrowest range of application.

Pu-Xi'an Dialect

Pu-Xi'an dialect, also called Putianese or Henghua language, is spoken in coastal areas of east Fujian, centered in Putian and Xianyou counties, as Putian dialect is the representative. Some people in north and east parts of Quanzhou, a few parts in Fuqing and Ningde also use Pu-Xi'an dialect to talk. The interesting intangible cultural heritages of Pu-Xi'an Opera and Pu-Xi'an Puppetry are based on Pu-Xi'an dialect.

See Also: Learn to Speak Chinese

- Last updated on Jun. 01, 2020 -
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