What Is Hokkien Language?(30+ Detailed Answer)

Hokkien, also known as Minnan or Southern Min, is a prominent Chinese language spoken by millions of people around the world. It belongs to the Min Chinese subgroup, which is part of the larger Sinitic language family. Hokkien is primarily spoken in the southern provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Hainan, and Taiwan, as well as in various overseas Chinese communities.

what is Hokkien?

Hokkien, also known as Minnan or Southern Min, is a Chinese language that holds significant influence and is widely spoken in various regions. In Taiwan, it is referred to as Taiwanese, Taiwanese Hokkien, or Taiwanese language. In addition, it is also known as Hokkien in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Macau, and overseas Chinese communities. Hokkien belongs to the Min Chinese subgroup, specifically the Minnan branch, and is considered the most influential variant of the Min language.

The term Hokkien can have a broad or narrow meaning. In a broad sense, it encompasses all varieties of Minnan, while in a narrow sense, it specifically refers to the Minnan spoken in Fujian and Taiwan. The academic definition of Hokkien primarily follows the dialects spoken in Xiamen (Amoy) and Taiwan.

Fujian, abbreviated as “Min,” refers to the southern part of the province. Geographically, Quanzhou, Xiamen, Zhangzhou, Putian, and Longyan are considered part of the Minnan region. However, when we commonly refer to “Minnan,” it has a specific connotation and excludes Putian and Longyan. This distinction is based on linguistic, cultural, and customary differences. Putian has its own dialect, known as Putianese, which is slightly different from Minnan, while Longyan primarily speaks Hakka. Both areas do not fall under the Minnan language group. Therefore, in a narrow sense, Minnan specifically refers to Quanzhou, Xiamen, and Zhangzhou. However, due to the broader cultural heritage and influence of Minnan, other regions influenced by Minnan also use the Minnan language and share a common cultural identity. Hence, they can be collectively referred to as “Pan-Minnan.”

The present-day Minnan dialect has evolved from the interaction and fusion of the ancient languages spoken by the indigenous Minyue people (an ancient indigenous group in the Minnan region) and the successive migrations of Han people from the northern regions into Fujian, particularly during the Tang and Song dynasties. It is a dialect that gradually developed through the exchange and integration of the ancient phonetics of the Eight Min regions and the languages brought in by various external influences over the centuries.

Min Nan, also known as Hokkien, is one of the eight major dialects of Chinese. It is primarily spoken in the Min Nan region of China and Taiwan, as well as in Guangdong’s Chaoshan area, Hainan, and Southeast Asian countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore. The global population of Min Nan speakers, both domestically and overseas, reaches around 50 million, making it one of the world’s 60 major languages.

In 1977, scientists recorded Min Nan onto a golden disk that can endure for one billion years, which was then placed on the Voyager 2 spacecraft. This was done with the hope of discovering extraterrestrial counterparts amidst the vast expanse of the Milky Way.

In conclusion, Hokkien, or Minnan, is a prominent Chinese language with a wide influence and significant regional variations. It is widely spoken in Fujian and Taiwan, and its cultural and linguistic impact extends to other regions as well. Understanding the distinction between Hokkien’s broad and narrow definitions helps to appreciate the diversity and cultural richness associated with this vibrant language.

style of Hokkien language

Hokkien language has various sub-dialects, both within Fujian province and in overseas regions. It can be broadly classified into the following sub-dialects:

Zhangzhou dialect

Quanzhou dialect

Xiamen dialect (Amoy)

Hokkien dialect in Southeast Asia

Min dialect of Zhejiang Province (Zhenan Min)

Chaoshan dialect

Hainan dialect

Minnan-Taiwanese Branch:

This refers to the native Minnan dialects. Zhangzhou and Quanzhou are the birthplaces of various Minnan dialects within the field of linguistics. All Minnan dialects trace their origins back to Zhangzhou and Quanzhou dialects. While there are slight differences in phonetics between the Zhangzhou and Quanzhou dialects, they have a strict correspondence with each other. The grammar and vocabulary are essentially the same. Xiamen dialect and Taiwanese (which are highly similar) emerged directly from a mixture of the dialects in Zhangzhou and Quanzhou, reflecting characteristics that are neither purely Zhangzhou nor purely Quanzhou. Therefore, Xiamen dialect and Taiwanese are considered typical forms of Minnan dialects by people both domestically and internationally. The Minnan-Taiwanese branch of Minnan dialect exhibits greater internal uniformity.

Zhenan Min Branch:

During the late Ming and early Qing dynasties, a large number of Minnan-speaking people (mainly from Longxi, Haicheng, Zhangpu, Anxi, Huian, Tong’an, etc.) migrated to Cangnan County, Pingyang County, Yuhuan, Dongtou, as well as Fuding and Xiapu in the northeastern part of Fujian. Due to the geographical proximity and linguistic similarities between Zhejiang and eastern Fujian, this area is collectively referred to as the “Zhenan Min” region. After the introduction of Minnan dialect to Zhenan and eastern Fujian, it underwent its own evolution and was influenced by the surrounding dialects (Zhenan being Ou dialect and eastern Fujian being Fuzhou dialect). As a result, it developed some differences compared to the native Minnan dialect and the local people in Cangnan refer to this dialect as “Zhenan Min.” Modern Zhenan Min differs from the Minnan-Taiwanese branch mainly in terms of the loss of checked tones, nasalized tones, and differences in vocabulary. However, overall, Zhenan Min still preserves most of the other characteristics of the native Minnan dialect. Compared to the Chaoshan dialect, Zhenan Min is closer to the Minnan-Taiwanese branch of Minnan dialect.

Chaoshan Branch:

The Chaoshan dialect shares many similarities with the Minnan-Taiwanese branch of Minnan dialect but there are still significant differences between them. The grammar and vocabulary are similar, but the pronunciation and intonation differ significantly, making communication between the two difficult. In areas where the Chaoshan dialect and the Minnan-Taiwanese branch intersect, the pronunciation characteristics of both dialects are combined, such as in Zhao’an, Fujian, and Singapore. In addition to being spoken in the Chaoshan region of Guangdong province, the Chaoshan dialect is also widely spoken in numerous Chaoshan diaspora communities in Southeast Asia.

Hainan Dialect

Hainanese, it is said, is a Min Nan dialect that emerged from the migration of people from southern Fujian (some say Putian) who mixed with the local language. Hainanese, represented by Wenchang dialect, differs the most from other areas’ Min Nan dialects and is essentially unintelligible.

Min Nan dialect is one of the eight major dialect groups in China. It is divided into five sub-dialects:

  • Xiamen dialect area: Xiamen, Jinmen, and Tong’an.
  • Quanzhou dialect area: Quanzhou, Shishi, Jinjiang, Huian, Nan’an, Yongchun, Dehua, Anxi, and other eight counties and cities.
  • Zhangzhou dialect area: Zhangzhou, Longhai, Zhangpu, Yunxiao, Dongshan, Zhao’an, Hua’an, Changtai, Pinghe, Nanjing, and other ten counties and cities.
  • Longyan dialect area: Longyan City and Zhangping County.
  • Datian dialect area: Datian County and a part of Youxi County.

The influence of Min Nan dialect extends beyond the Minnan region, crossing provincial and national boundaries. The area where Min Nan dialect is most widely spoken outside the province is Taiwan. Almost the entire island of Taiwan, except for some indigenous mountainous areas, uses a variation of Min Nan dialect that is closer to the Zhangzhou accent or the Quanzhou accent. According to preliminary investigations, Taichung and Taipei lean more towards the Quanzhou accent, while Tainan and Kaohsiung lean more towards the Zhangzhou accent.

The migration of Min Nan people to Taiwan is said to have started in the Yuan Dynasty, but large-scale migration occurred in the mid-17th century when a significant number of Min Nan people crossed the sea with Zheng Chenggong to reclaim Taiwan from Dutch invaders. Over the past 300 years, Min Nan people, together with Han Chinese from other regions and their indigenous compatriots, have developed this precious island of our motherland. Throughout their shared lives and struggles, Min Nan dialect has remained the primary means of communication among the Taiwanese people. Especially today, with increased economic and cultural exchanges between mainland China and Taiwan, Taiwanese people’s visits to the mainland for ancestral roots, family visits, and friendship have made Min Nan dialect even more important.

is hokkien a Chinese language?

Hokkien is a Chinese language. It is a Southern Min dialect spoken primarily in the southern part of Fujian province in China, as well as in Singapore, Malaysia, and other parts of Southeast Asia. It is one of the many languages/dialects spoken by the Chinese diaspora around the world.

is hokkien a language or dialect?

Hokkien is a language that is primarily spoken by the Hoklo ethnic group in southern China and various Southeast Asian countries such as Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. While some people refer to Hokkien as a dialect, it is linguistically classified as a distinct language within the larger Sinitic language family, which also includes Mandarin, Cantonese, and other regional Chinese languages.

Hokkien has its own unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar, which differentiates it from other Chinese languages or dialects. It is mutually unintelligible with Mandarin, the official language of China, although there may be some degree of mutual comprehension between speakers of different Chinese languages due to their shared writing system and cultural connections.

is hokkien the same as hakka?

Hokkien, also known as Minnan language, is a variety of the Minnan dialects and is commonly referred to as Hokkien, Fuzhou dialect, or Xiamen dialect. Minnan language belongs to the Sino-Tibetan language family, specifically the Minnan branch, and is primarily spoken in the southern part of Fujian province in China, as well as in the eastern part of Guangdong province, southern Hainan province, and Taiwan.

Hokkien exhibits significant differences from other dialects, particularly in terms of pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. For instance, in terms of pronunciation, Hokkien has different initial consonants, finals, and tones compared to Standard Mandarin and other dialects. In grammar, Hokkien has distinct word orders and sentence structures compared to Standard Mandarin and other dialects. Hokkien also has many unique vocabulary items, such as “扁食” (referring to dumplings) and “椰蛋” (referring to chicken eggs).

Minnan language is a member of the Sino-Tibetan language family and is primarily spoken in the southern part of Fujian province in China, as well as in the eastern part of Guangdong province, southern Hainan province, and Taiwan. Hokkien is one variety of Minnan language and has significant differences from other dialects, including pronunciation, grammar, and vocabulary. Minnan language and Hokkien are widely used in daily life and social interactions in the Fujian region, and they are important dialects in Fujian province.

In the southern part of Fujian province, Minnan language is widely spoken and serves as the daily language of the local population. As one of the dialects in Fujian province, Minnan language holds a significant historical and cultural value. Hokkien, being a variety of Minnan language, differs in certain aspects, such as pronunciation.

Minnan language and Hokkien are widely used in daily life and social interactions in the local communities, making them important regional languages in Fujian province. Additionally, Hokkien is also widely used among overseas Chinese communities, particularly those of Fujianese descent, and has become an important lingua franca for overseas Fujianese.

where is Hokkien spoken?

Minnan language is mainly spoken in the following areas: most parts of Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Xiamen, and the Xinluo District of Longyan in Fujian Province. It is also spoken in most parts of Zhangping City, Daitian, and some parts of Youxi in Sanming, as well as in Fuding and Xiapu in Ningde. In addition to Fujian, Minnan language is most widely spoken in Taiwan.

In Southeast Asia, the term Minnan language refers to a narrower definition of the language.

  • Minnan language is primarily divided into Quanzhou dialect and Zhangzhou dialect. Xiamen dialect and Taiwanese dialect are a fusion of the two, but leaning more towards Quanzhou.
  • The language spoken in Minnan and Taiwan regions, which inherits this cultural heritage, is commonly referred to as “Minnan language.” In the long history of our traditional Chinese culture, the significance of Minnan language lies in the fact that our ancestors, the Central Plains people, avoided language reforms resulting from ethnic integration in the Central Plains during multiple large-scale migrations. Minnan language has preserved the ancient Central Plains Huaxia pronunciation from the Tang, Wei, and Five Dynasties periods, which is the language of that time.
  • From a linguistic perspective, most Chinese linguists consider Minnan language as a Chinese dialect, while many Western scholars regard it as a language. Minnan language is also recognized by UNESCO as one of the more than ten languages in China that are classified as dialects in practical terms.

Minnan language is also spoken in Chaozhou, Shantou, Puning, and the coastal areas of Guangdong, where the Teochew dialect is similar to Minnan language. There are also many other regions in China where Minnan language is spoken. It is most prevalent in the eastern part of Zhejiang, including most of Pingyang, Yuhuan, Cangnan, and Dongtou counties, as well as a small part of the Zhoushan Archipelago. The Minnan dialect in these areas is influenced by the Wenzhou and Ningbo Wu dialects, resulting in significant tonal variations. Minnan language is also spoken in most parts of Hainan Province and northeastern Jiangxi Province, including Yu Shan, Shangrao, and Guangfeng. Additionally, Minnan language is used by various communities in several counties in eastern Guangxi, such as Hepu, Luchuan, Beiliu, Pingle, Pingnan, Guiping, and Liujiang. Surprisingly, there are even dialect regions using Minnan language near Chengdu in Sichuan Province and in Yixing City, Jiangsu Province.

Hokkien, also known as Min Nan, is mainly spoken in Fujian province in China and Taiwan. In Fujian, it is widely spoken in areas such as Quanzhou, Zhangzhou, Xiamen, Longyan’s Xinluo District, most of Zhangping City, large parts of Datian in Sanming, and some areas in Youxi and Fuding in Ningde, as well as small portions in Fuzhou City’s Jiaocheng District and Xiaopu, and certain villages in Fuqing.

In addition to Fujian, Hokkien is widely spoken in Taiwan, where approximately 80% of the population can speak it.

Hokkien is also spoken in other regions of mainland China and Southeast Asia, including:

Guangdong province: Parts of Huizhou City’s Huidong County in the southeast, the Chaoshan region in the east, the Hailufeng and Hailu areas, and several dialect islands of the former Xiangshan County (including Longdu, Denengdu, Sidadu, Gudou, and Shanggongchangdu) in the east.

Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region: Scattered areas in the southeast, including Guiping, Pingnan, Beiliu, and near Liuzhou.

Hainan province: Various cities and counties, including Haikou, Wenchang, Qionghai, Wanning, Ding’an, Tunchang, Chengmai, and most areas in Lingao, Ledong, Dongfang, Changjiang, Sanya, Qiongzhong, and Wuzhishan.

Zhejiang province: Southern areas of Wenzhou, including Pingyang, Cangnan, Dongtou, Rui’an, Wencheng, and Taishun; parts of Yuhuan and Wenzhou in the Taizhou region; areas near the Jiangxi border in the western region, some parts of Huzhou; Shipu in Xiangshan, Ningbo, and a small portion of the Zhoushan Archipelago; Lian’an in Hangzhou, Yuhang, Deqing, Anji, and Changxing in Huzhou.

Jiangsu province: Southern mountainous areas of Yixing County, Jintan, and Jurong.

Jiangxi province: Northeastern areas close to Zhejiang, including Shangrao, Qianshan, Guangfeng, and Yushan.

Some towns in the southern region of Anhui province.

Luzhou region in Sichuan province.

what country speaks Hokkien?

Min-Nan is a renowned overseas Chinese community in China, with tens of millions of Min-Nan people scattered across Southeast Asia and around the world. According to statistics, there are approximately 20 million overseas Chinese who speak Min-Nan, with 4.4 million in Indonesia, accounting for 60% of the local Chinese population; 3.4 million in Malaysia, accounting for 58% of the local Chinese population; 1.5 million in Singapore, accounting for 70% of the local Chinese population; 6 million in Thailand, and 1.2 million in the Philippines, constituting 90% of the local Chinese population. Overseas cities with more than 500,000 speakers of Min-Nan include Jakarta, Manila, Bangkok, and Singapore. Cities with more than 100,000 speakers of Min-Nan include Surabaya, Bandung, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Cebu, Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, Phnom Penh, Yangon, New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Paris.

Southeast Asia: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, Brunei, and other countries.

Other overseas regions: Countries and regions where Hokkien-speaking people have migrated.

how many Hokkien speakers?

Min Nan, also known as Hokkien, is one of the important dialects of Chinese. It originated from the ancient Central Plains’ He-Luo dialect and is widely spoken in the Min Nan region of China, most parts of Taiwan, as well as the Chaoshan and Leizhou Peninsula in Guangdong, Hainan Island, and the Wenzhou region on the Fujian-Zhejiang border. Some regions in Southeast Asia also use Min Nan dialect. According to statistics, there are nearly 60 million speakers of Min Nan dialect worldwide.

are Hokkien and Mandarin mutually intelligible?

Hokkien and Mandarin are related, as they both belong to the Sinitic language family. However, they are not mutually intelligible. Mutual intelligibility refers to the ability of speakers of one language or dialect to understand and communicate with speakers of another language or dialect without the need for extensive study or translation.

While there are some similarities between Hokkien and Mandarin, such as shared vocabulary and grammatical structures, there are also significant differences in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. These differences can make it challenging for speakers of one language to understand the other without prior exposure or study.

That being said, due to the widespread influence of Mandarin as the standard and official language in China, many Hokkien speakers in areas where Mandarin is prevalent, such as Taiwan, may have some level of understanding or proficiency in Mandarin. However, this does not necessarily imply mutual intelligibility between the two languages.

Hokkien language history

The Minnan dialects originated from the Quanzhou-Zhangzhou phonological system, but due to factors such as differences in the timing of differentiation, geographical barriers, and the evolution of Zhangzhou and Quanzhou pronunciations, various variations and changes have emerged.

The formation of Minnan dialects was mainly due to two waves of migration caused by military campaigns and seeking refuge:

  • First wave: In the 4th century, residents from the central plains of northern China migrated to Fujian. The initial formation of some basic Quanzhou dialect occurred during the chaotic period of the Five Barbarians’ invasion of the Central Plains at the end of the Western Jin Dynasty (304-439 AD). During this time, when northern ethnic minorities invaded the Central Plains, the eight noble families of the Central Plains (Zhan, Lin, Huang, Chen, Zheng, Qiu, He, Hu) began seeking refuge in the Quanzhou-Jinjiang area of Fujian around the second year of the Yongjia era of Western Jin Dynasty (308 AD). They brought the language of the Central Plains at that time (including words like “身” [sîn], “瞑” [bēng], “鳖” [bê], “斟酌” [tîⁿ-tē], “鼎” [téng], “箸” [tī]) and later referred to it as “Quanzhou dialect.” However, the number of immigrants during this wave was small, and most of them settled in the Min River and Mulanxi River valleys. During the Tianjian period of the Southern Dynasty (502-519 AD), the southern part of Jin’an County was separated to form Nan’an County, which aimed to maintain stability in the southern part of the Min border. Its capital was located in the current Fengzhou Town in Nan’an City, overseeing Jin’an and two other counties, covering areas that are now Xiamen, Putian, Quanzhou, and Zhangzhou. However, it was soon abolished and not reinstated until the mid-Tang Dynasty, over 200 years later, when Wurongzhou was established in the current Quanzhou city area for the third time. It was later renamed Quanzhou, and the administrative structure in the Quanzhou city area stabilized. Anxi, Huian, Yongchun, and Dehua counties in Quanzhou were not established until the Five Dynasties, over 400 years later. Therefore, a small portion of the “Quanzhou dialect” is a combination of the third and fourth-century Central Plains pronunciation features from the “Wu-Chu dialect” (e.g., “水薸” [phio5], “手” [ng2], “鲎” [hia]) and local “Yue language” (e.g., “loo3” [kô], “san2” [su], “lim” [iâm], “hiu3” [sè]) – this is the main source of “colloquial pronunciation” and it appeared earlier than “scholarly pronunciation.”
  • Second wave: In the early Tang Dynasty, Chen Zheng and his son Chen Yuanguang settled and cultivated in Zhangzhou. The Zhangzhou dialect began to take shape in the second year of the Zongzhang era of Emperor Gaozong of Tang (669 AD). At that time, the southern part of Fujian Province was in turmoil and unrest caused by indigenous tribes. The imperial court sent Chen Zheng and his son Chen Yuanguang (from the Hedong commandery) to suppress the rebellion and establish military garrisons in the Zhangzhou area, which also included present-day Longyan and Zhangping. This group of people brought the Middle Chinese language of the 7th century. In the Tang Dynasty, the population of Zhangzhou was only a few thousand households, mainly agricultural households under the control of the Tang Dynasty. There were also a few indigenous people living in the southern mountainous areas of Zhangzhou. Chen Yuanguang, leading the Tang Dynasty army, engaged in a long-term war with the indigenous people to vie for control of Zhangzhou. Eventually, the Tang Dynasty gained control of the coastal plains of Zhangzhou, and the indigenous people were pacified. Zhangzhou was not yet prosperous during the Tang Dynasty, and its development occurred during the first peak of the Southern Song Dynasty. However, its significant influence came during the Ming Dynasty when Zhangzhou was opened for trade, breaking the maritime prohibition. At that time, Zhangzhou was a bustling city, and numerous ships set sail from its port, which was vividly described in historical records.
  • Third wave: In the late 9th century, Wang Chao, Wang Shengui, and Wang Shenzhi, the three brothers, ruled Fuzhou, Quanzhou, and other areas, leading to the formation of the Quanzhou dialect.

At the end of the Tang Dynasty, the Huang Chao Uprising occurred in 878 AD. Wang Chao, Wang Shengui, and Wang Shenzhi, three brothers from Gushan County in Guangzhou, migrated south to suppress the rebellion. Wang Chao was subsequently appointed as the military governor of Weiwu in Fujian. These people brought the language of the 9th century Central Plains. Most of the migrants during this third wave were people from Huainan Dao in the Tang Dynasty. When the people of Fujian studied the Four Books and Five Classics, this became a major source of the “scholarly pronunciation” portion.

During the late Ming Dynasty, scholars systematically organized the Minnan dialects and compiled the “Huayin Baojian” (Mirror of Pronunciation), which gave rise to the system of the fifteen tonnes.

where did Hokkien originate from?

Hokkien originated from the Yellow River and Luo River basins. Due to the need to escape warfare, the Han people from the Central Plains migrated south to Fujian, specifically the Minnan region, in three major waves during the Western Jin Dynasty, Tang Dynasty, and the late Northern Song Dynasty. This migration brought the He-Lo (河洛) dialect to Fujian. Minnan dialect spoken outside of the Minnan region is the result of subsequent migrations of Minnan people to other areas.

who invented Hokkien language?

The Hokkien language, also known as Min Nan or Southern Min, is a Chinese language dialect primarily spoken in southeastern China, Taiwan, and other regions with Hoklo communities. The Hokkien language, like other Chinese dialects, evolved over a long period of time and does not have a specific individual credited with its invention.

The origins of Hokkien can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) in China. It developed as a distinct branch of the Chinese language family, influenced by the local languages and cultures of the southeastern coastal region of China. Over time, as Chinese immigrants from the Fujian province settled in different parts of Southeast Asia, they brought the Hokkien language with them, resulting in the various Hokkien dialects found today.

Therefore, it is more accurate to say that the Hokkien language emerged through a gradual process of linguistic development and cultural interactions rather than being attributed to a single inventor.

when Hokkien language origin?

The Hokkien language, also known as Minnan or Southern Min, is a Chinese dialect primarily spoken in the southern coastal region of China, specifically in Fujian province, as well as parts of Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and other overseas Chinese communities. The exact origin of the Hokkien language can be traced back to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) in China.

During the Tang Dynasty, there was a large-scale migration of people from northern China to the southern coastal regions due to political instability and social unrest. These migrants brought their own dialects, which eventually merged with the local languages spoken in the Fujian region, resulting in the development of the Hokkien language.

Over time, the Hokkien language continued to evolve and developed distinct regional variations, with the dialect spoken in Taiwan, known as Taiwanese Hokkien, being one of the most prominent and well-known variations.

It’s important to note that the Hokkien language belongs to the larger Min Chinese language group, which includes several other dialects spoken in different parts of Fujian province and neighboring areas.

how old is Hokkien language?

The Hokkien language, also known as Min Nan or Southern Min, is a Chinese language that belongs to the Min Chinese subgroup. It has a long history and can be traced back to ancient times. While it is challenging to determine the exact age of the Hokkien language, it is generally believed to have emerged during the Tang Dynasty, which lasted from 618 to 907 AD. Therefore, Hokkien has a history of over 1,000 years. It has evolved and developed over time, influenced by various factors such as regional variations and historical events. Today, Hokkien is primarily spoken in southern Fujian Province and Taiwan, as well as by overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia.

What language is similar to Hokkien?

Hokkien, also known as Minnan or Southern Min, is a Chinese language spoken by the Hoklo people primarily in the southern part of Fujian province in China, as well as in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and other regions with significant Hoklo communities.

Linguistically, Hokkien belongs to the Min language group, which is a subgroup of the larger Sinitic language family. Other languages that are closely related to Hokkien and also belong to the Min language group include:

Teochew (Chaozhou): Spoken in the eastern part of Guangdong province in China, as well as in parts of Southeast Asia.

Hainanese: Spoken on the island of Hainan in southern China, as well as by Hainanese diaspora communities.

Amoy (Xiamen): Spoken in the city of Xiamen and its surrounding areas in Fujian province, China.

Taiwanese: The variant of Hokkien spoken in Taiwan, which has developed its own distinct features over time.

While these languages share similarities due to their common Min language heritage, there are also differences in vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar among them.

Is Hokkien the oldest Chinese language?

Regarding the claim that Hokkien (Min Nan) is the oldest language in China, I understand that there is no widespread consensus in the academic community. The origin and evolution of Chinese languages are complex topics, and there are ongoing debates and differing research perspectives in the field of linguistics.

The claim that Hokkien preserves elements of Old Chinese, such as closer pronunciation to ancient characters and the use of inverted sentence structures, can reflect some archaic features in its grammar and pronunciation. However, this does not mean that it is the oldest language in China, as other Chinese dialects and language groups also exhibit similar archaic features.

Additionally, Cantonese (Yue), as a Chinese dialect, also preserves certain features of Old Chinese, including vocabulary, grammar, and phonetics. However, Cantonese developed during the Tang Dynasty, which is later than the formation of Hokkien. Therefore, from a historical perspective, Hokkien can be considered one of the relatively older Chinese dialects.

It is important to note that determining the age of a language cannot solely rely on vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. Language development involves multiple factors such as history, culture, and population migration, making it more challenging to pinpoint the oldest Chinese language.

Finally, in terms of translating “Hokkien” into English, it can be translated as “Min Nan” or “Southern Min.”

Do Filipinos speak Hokkien?

In 2013, the first “Population and Ethnicity Census Report” released by the Philippine Senate revealed that the number of ethnic Chinese in the Philippines exceeded 1.35 million. Approximately 22.8 million Filipinos had Chinese ancestry, which accounts for about 25% of the total population of the Philippines. In terms of ethnicity, this Chinese population surpasses even the largest ethnic group in the Philippines, the Tagalog people.

Due to the fact that 98.7% of the Chinese-Filipinos trace their origins back to Fujian Province in China (with 75% from Quanzhou, 23% from Zhangzhou, and 2% from Xiamen), many of them being fourth or fifth-generation Filipino citizens, a significant portion (about 74.%) still consider Hokkien (Min Nan) as their mother tongue. This is particularly common in cities such as Manila, Cebu, and Davao, which have a predominant Chinese-Filipino population. Therefore, Hokkien is often referred to as the “people’s language” in the Philippines.

While Hokkien is not a widely spoken language among Filipinos, there are some individuals in the Philippines who speak Hokkien, particularly those with Hokkien Chinese heritage. The Hokkien-speaking community in the Philippines mainly consists of descendants of Chinese immigrants who settled in the country over generations. These individuals often maintain connections to their Hokkien-speaking roots and may use Hokkien as a heritage language within their families and communities.

It’s important to note that the majority of Filipinos do not speak Hokkien as their native or primary language. The official languages of the Philippines are Filipino (based on Tagalog) and English. However, due to historical and cultural factors, various Chinese languages, including Hokkien, have had some influence on the local Filipino dialects, especially in areas with significant Chinese communities. In those areas, there may be some loanwords or linguistic influences from Hokkien in the local languages or dialects spoken by Filipinos.

Does everyone in Taiwan speak Hokkien?

While Hokkien (also known as Taiwanese or Minnan) has historically been a widely spoken language in Taiwan, the linguistic landscape has changed over time. Today, while Hokkien remains an important language in Taiwan, not everyone in Taiwan speaks Hokkien as their primary language.

The official language of Taiwan is Mandarin Chinese, and Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language on the island. Mandarin is used in education, government, media, and most formal settings. Due to language policies and the promotion of Mandarin as a lingua franca, Mandarin proficiency has become widespread among the population.

However, Hokkien still holds significance in Taiwan, particularly among older generations and in certain regions. It is commonly spoken in local communities, especially in southern Taiwan, where the Hoklo people (Hokkien-speaking ethnic group) have a strong presence. Many Taiwanese people, especially those with Hoklo ancestry, maintain a degree of proficiency in Hokkien and use it in informal conversations, within families, and in local settings.

It’s worth noting that in addition to Mandarin and Hokkien, there are also other languages spoken by specific ethnic groups in Taiwan, such as Hakka, indigenous languages, and languages brought by immigrants from various countries. The linguistic diversity in Taiwan adds richness to the cultural fabric of the island.

Is Hokkien and Teochew similar?

Hokkien and Teochew are both members of the Min language group, which is a branch of the larger Sinitic (Chinese) language family. As a result, they share some similarities in terms of vocabulary, grammar, and pronunciation. However, Hokkien and Teochew are distinct dialects within the Min group and have notable differences.

One of the main differences between Hokkien and Teochew lies in their phonetic systems. The two dialects have distinct sound patterns and pronunciations for many words, even though they may share some similar vocabulary roots. For example, the pronunciation of certain sounds and tones can vary between Hokkien and Teochew.

Additionally, there are differences in vocabulary and idiomatic expressions between Hokkien and Teochew. While there may be some overlap, especially in basic vocabulary, each dialect has developed its own unique set of words and expressions that are specific to the local culture and history of the respective regions where they are spoken.

The degree of mutual intelligibility between Hokkien and Teochew can vary depending on the speakers’ exposure and familiarity with both dialects. Speakers of one dialect may be able to understand some words or phrases in the other dialect, but full comprehension can be challenging without prior exposure or study.

Overall, while Hokkien and Teochew share certain similarities as Min dialects, they are distinct and separate languages with their own unique characteristics.

can hokkien be written?

Yes, Hokkien can be written using Chinese characters. Chinese characters are logograms, and they can represent the sounds and meanings of words in various Chinese languages, including Hokkien.

In the past, Hokkien was primarily transmitted orally and did not have a standardized writing system. However, there have been efforts to develop writing systems for Hokkien based on Chinese characters. These writing systems aim to represent the pronunciation and meaning of Hokkien words using Chinese characters.

One of the commonly used writing systems for Hokkien is Pe̍h-ōe-jī (POJ). Pe̍h-ōe-jī is a romanization system that represents Hokkien sounds using Latin alphabet letters and diacritical marks. It allows speakers of Hokkien to write the language using a phonetic-based system that is independent of Chinese characters.

In addition to Pe̍h-ōe-jī, some written materials and publications may use a mixed script approach, combining Chinese characters with Hokkien-specific characters or annotations to provide additional phonetic information.

It’s worth noting that the use of writing systems for Hokkien can vary depending on the context and the preferences of the speakers. Some individuals may choose to write in Pe̍h-ōe-jī, while others may prefer using Chinese characters or a combination of both.

is hakka and hokkien the same?

No, Hakka and Hokkien are not the same. They are separate Chinese dialects that belong to different linguistic groups within the Sinitic (Chinese) language family.

Hakka is a major Chinese dialect spoken by the Hakka people, who are primarily concentrated in southern China, particularly in Guangdong, Jiangxi, Fujian, and Taiwan. Hakka has its own unique pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar. It is known for its distinct tonal patterns and preservation of ancient Chinese features.

Hokkien, also known as Taiwanese or Minnan, is another major Chinese dialect spoken primarily in the southern part of Fujian province in China, as well as in Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia. Hokkien has its own pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar that distinguish it from other Chinese dialects. It is known for its rich literary tradition and has had a significant influence on the languages spoken in Southeast Asia, such as Penang Hokkien, Singaporean Hokkien, and Philippine Hokkien.

While both Hakka and Hokkien are part of the broader Chinese language family and share some similarities, they are distinct dialects with their own unique characteristics. The pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammatical structures of Hakka and Hokkien differ significantly from each other, and speakers of one dialect may not necessarily understand the other without prior exposure or study.

hokkien vs mandarin

Hokkien and Mandarin are two distinct Chinese dialects that belong to different linguistic groups within the Sinitic (Chinese) language family. Here are some key differences between Hokkien and Mandarin:

  • Geographic Distribution: Hokkien is primarily spoken in southern Fujian province in China, as well as in Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia where there are Hokkien-speaking communities. Mandarin, on the other hand, is the official language of China and is spoken by the majority of the Chinese population. It is also the standard form of Chinese used in education, media, and official settings.
  • Pronunciation: Hokkien and Mandarin have different phonetic systems. Hokkien has its own set of phonemes and tones, which can differ from those in Mandarin. For example, Hokkien tends to have more final consonants and a wider range of tones compared to Mandarin.
  • Vocabulary: Hokkien and Mandarin have distinct vocabularies, although they do share some common roots. Hokkien has borrowed words from various sources, including Old Chinese, other Chinese dialects, and local languages in the regions where it is spoken. Mandarin, as the standardized form of Chinese, has its own vocabulary, some of which has been influenced by classical Chinese and modern neologisms.
  • Grammar: Hokkien and Mandarin also differ in terms of grammar and sentence structure. While both languages share some basic grammatical features common to Chinese dialects, there are variations in word order, use of particles, and grammatical patterns between the two dialects.
  • Usage and Status: Mandarin has gained prominence as the standard language of China and is widely used for communication across different regions of the country. It is the language of instruction in schools, official government affairs, and business settings. Hokkien, on the other hand, is primarily used in local communities, within families, and in informal settings, particularly in areas with Hokkien-speaking populations. Its usage and status are more localized.

It’s important to note that Mandarin and Hokkien are mutually unintelligible to native speakers of each dialect, and proficiency in one does not guarantee understanding of the other without prior exposure or study.

hokkien vs Cantonese

Hokkien and Cantonese are two distinct Chinese dialects that belong to different linguistic groups within the Sinitic (Chinese) language family. Here are some key differences between Hokkien and Cantonese:

  • Geographic Distribution: Hokkien is primarily spoken in southern Fujian province in China, Taiwan, and other parts of Southeast Asia where there are Hokkien-speaking communities. Cantonese, on the other hand, is predominantly spoken in the Guangdong province of China, including the cities of Guangzhou and Hong Kong, as well as in diaspora communities around the world.
  • Pronunciation: Hokkien and Cantonese have different phonetic systems. They have distinct sets of phonemes, tones, and sound patterns. For example, Cantonese is known for its extensive use of six to nine tones, while Hokkien typically has fewer tones.
  • Vocabulary: Hokkien and Cantonese have distinct vocabularies, although they share some common roots. Both dialects have borrowed words from various sources, including Old Chinese and local languages in the regions where they are spoken. Additionally, Cantonese has been influenced by its historical contact with other languages, such as English and Portuguese in Hong Kong.
  • Grammar: Hokkien and Cantonese also differ in terms of grammar and sentence structure. While both dialects share some basic grammatical features common to Chinese dialects, there are variations in word order, use of particles, and grammatical patterns between the two dialects.
  • Usage and Status: Cantonese has gained prominence due to the economic significance of Hong Kong and its influence in the entertainment industry. It is widely spoken and used in media, business, and daily life in Hong Kong and neighboring areas. Hokkien, on the other hand, is primarily used in local communities, within families, and in informal settings, particularly in areas with Hokkien-speaking populations.

It’s important to note that Hokkien and Cantonese are mutually unintelligible to native speakers of each dialect, and proficiency in one does not guarantee understanding of the other without prior exposure or study.

hokkien vs Teochew

Hokkien and Teochew are two distinct Chinese dialects that belong to the Min Nan and Min Nan groups, respectively. Here are some key differences between the two:

Origin and Geographic Distribution:

Hokkien: Hokkien originates from the Fujian Province in southeastern China and is spoken by the majority of Chinese diaspora communities in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and parts of Southeast Asia.

Teochew: Teochew, also known as Chaozhou dialect, comes from the Chaoshan region in eastern Guangdong Province, China. It is mainly spoken by Teochew Chinese communities in eastern Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau, and Southeast Asia.

Phonetics and Pronunciation:

Hokkien: Hokkien has a complex set of consonants and vowels. It is known for its distinctive tone system, which includes eight different tones. Hokkien also has a significant number of nasalized vowels.

Teochew: Teochew has a simpler set of consonants and vowels compared to Hokkien. It has six tones, and the pronunciation is generally considered softer and less nasalized than Hokkien.

Vocabulary and Grammar:

Hokkien: Hokkien has a rich vocabulary influenced by various languages, including Old Chinese, Middle Chinese, and loanwords from other languages. It has a subject-verb-object (SVO) word order.

Teochew: Teochew vocabulary shares some similarities with Hokkien but also has unique expressions. It has also been influenced by neighboring dialects like Cantonese and Mandarin. Teochew follows a subject-object-verb (SOV) word order.

Cultural Significance:

Hokkien: Hokkien has a significant cultural impact due to the large number of Hokkien-speaking Chinese communities across different regions. Hokkien opera, Hokkien cuisine, and the influence of Hokkien in Chinese literature and cinema are notable cultural aspects.

Teochew: Teochew culture, like Hokkien, has a strong influence in various regions. Teochew cuisine, known for its seafood and delicate flavors, is highly regarded. Teochew opera and music also hold cultural significance.

It’s important to note that both dialects have experienced some degree of variation due to factors such as regional differences, migration, and interactions with other languages. Additionally, Mandarin Chinese has become more prevalent as a lingua franca in many areas, leading to a decline in the use of dialects like Hokkien and Teochew among younger generations.

hokkien vs Fukien

Hokkien and Fukien are two terms that refer to the same Chinese language variety. Hokkien is the term commonly used in Southeast Asia, particularly in Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia, while Fukien is used in certain regions of China, such as Fujian province.

Hokkien/Fukien is a Min Nan Chinese language variety, belonging to the larger family of Sinitic languages. It is spoken by millions of people around the world, primarily by ethnic Chinese communities who trace their ancestry back to Fujian province.

While there may be some slight regional variations and dialectal differences within Hokkien/Fukien, the language remains largely mutually intelligible across different regions. It has a rich history and cultural significance among the Hokkien-speaking communities.

It’s important to note that Hokkien/Fukien is distinct from Mandarin Chinese, which is the official language of China and widely spoken throughout the country. Mandarin and Hokkien/Fukien are mutually unintelligible, although many Hokkien/Fukien speakers also have some proficiency in Mandarin due to its prevalence in education and media.

hokkien vs Wu languages

Hokkien and Wu are both branches of the Sinitic language family, which is a group of Chinese languages spoken in different regions of China. While they share some similarities, they are distinct from each other in terms of pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.

Hokkien, also known as Minnan or Southern Min, is primarily spoken in the southern part of Fujian province in China, as well as in Taiwan and various overseas Chinese communities. It is one of the most widely spoken Chinese languages outside of mainland China. Hokkien has a significant number of speakers and several regional variations, such as Taiwanese Hokkien, Amoy Hokkien, and Teochew. It also influenced the formation of other Southeast Asian languages like Teochew, Hainanese, and Penang Hokkien.

Wu, also known as Shanghainese, is primarily spoken in the eastern coastal provinces of Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Shanghai. Wu is notable for its significant differences in pronunciation compared to other Chinese languages, including Mandarin. It has a number of dialects within its branch, such as Suzhounese, Shanghainese, and Hangzhounese. Wu has a relatively large number of speakers due to the population of the regions where it is spoken.

In terms of linguistic characteristics, Hokkien and Wu have distinct phonological systems. Hokkien has a rich inventory of consonants and vowels, and it is known for its use of nasal finals. Wu, on the other hand, has a unique set of phonological features, including a larger number of tones compared to other Chinese languages.

Vocabulary and grammar also differ between Hokkien and Wu. While both languages share a common Chinese vocabulary base, they have evolved differently over time and have developed their own set of words and expressions. Grammar structures and word order can also vary between the two languages.

Overall, Hokkien and Wu are distinct Chinese languages with their own regional variations, phonological systems, vocabularies, and grammatical features. They are spoken in different regions of China and have influenced the local culture and languages of those areas.

congratulations in Hokkien

The word for “congratulations” in Hokkien, specifically in the Amoy dialect, is “恭喜” (kiong-hi). This is the common expression used to convey congratulations or best wishes for a happy occasion in Hokkien-speaking communities.

happy in Hokkien

The word for “happy” in Hokkien, specifically in the Amoy dialect, is “快樂” (khuài-lo̍k). It is pronounced as “kwai-lok” in Mandarin. This word is commonly used to express happiness or to wish someone a joyful and pleasant experience.

how to say happy Chinese new year in Hokkien?

To say “Happy Chinese New Year” in Hokkien, you can use the following phrase: “恭喜發財,新年快樂” (Kiong-hi huat-tsai, sin-niâ khòai-lo̍k).

Here’s the breakdown of the phrase:

“恭喜發財” (Kiong-hi huat-tsai) means “congratulations and prosperity.” It is a traditional greeting often used during Chinese New Year to wish others prosperity and wealth.

“新年快樂” (Sin-niâ khòai-lo̍k) means “Happy New Year.” It is a common expression used to wish others happiness and joy during the Chinese New Year celebrations.

When combined, the phrase “恭喜發財,新年快樂” conveys the warm wishes of congratulations, prosperity, and happiness for the Chinese New Year festivities.

How to say 1 to 10 in Hokkien?

Certainly! Here are the numbers from 1 to 10 in Hokkien, specifically in the Amoy dialect:

It (1)

Nn̄g (2)

Saⁿ (3)

Sì (4)

Gō (5)

La̍k (6)

Chhit (7)

Peh (8)

Káu (9)

Cha̍p (10)

These are the commonly used number words in Hokkien. Remember that the pronunciation may vary slightly depending on the specific dialect or region.

Cultural Significance:

Hokkien holds immense cultural significance for its speakers. It serves as a vehicle for preserving and transmitting traditional customs, folklore, and oral histories. The language is often used in traditional performances, such as puppetry and opera, where the vibrant expressions and intonations of Hokkien bring these art forms to life. Furthermore, Hokkien cuisine, renowned for its bold flavors and culinary traditions, has gained popularity worldwide, introducing more people to the cultural richness of the Hokkien-speaking regions.

Challenges and Preservation:

Despite its enduring legacy, Hokkien faces challenges in modern times. The rapid urbanization and globalization have led to the dominance of Mandarin Chinese as the lingua franca, particularly in formal settings and education. Consequently, there has been a decline in the use and transmission of Hokkien among younger generations. Efforts are being made to revitalize and preserve the language, with initiatives focused on education, cultural events, and the development of multimedia resources.

hokkien culture:

Hokkien culture refers to the cultural practices, traditions, language, and customs of the Hokkien people, who are an ethnic group originating from the southeastern coastal regions of China, particularly the Fujian province. The Hokkiens have a rich heritage and a distinct cultural identity that has been shaped by their history, migration patterns, and interactions with other communities.

Language: The Hokkiens speak Hokkien, a Southern Min Chinese dialect. It is one of the most widely spoken Chinese dialects in Southeast Asia, as many Hokkien people migrated to countries like Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Hokkien has its own unique vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar compared to Mandarin or other Chinese dialects.

Festivals and Traditions: Hokkiens celebrate various festivals that are an integral part of their cultural identity. One of the most important festivals is the Lunar New Year, which is celebrated with great enthusiasm and involves traditional rituals, family gatherings, and the exchange of red envelopes (ang pow) containing money. The Mid-Autumn Festival is another significant celebration, where people gather to admire the full moon, eat mooncakes, and engage in lantern processions.

Ancestor Worship: Ancestor worship holds a prominent place in Hokkien culture. Many Hokkiens believe in honoring their ancestors and seek their blessings and guidance. Ancestral altars are common in Hokkien households, where families offer incense, food, and other offerings to their departed loved ones.

Cuisine: Hokkien cuisine is renowned for its distinct flavors and dishes. Some popular Hokkien dishes include Hokkien mee (noodles stir-fried with seafood and pork), oyster omelet, braised pork belly (kong bak), and fishball soup. Hokkien cuisine often emphasizes the use of fresh ingredients, rich sauces, and a balance of flavors.

Arts and Performing Arts: Hokkien culture has a vibrant tradition of folk music, opera, and puppetry. Hokkien opera, also known as Gezai or Nanguan, is a traditional form of Chinese opera performed in Hokkien dialect. It combines singing, acting, music, and elaborate costumes to tell stories from Chinese history or mythology.

Clan Associations: Clan associations play a significant role in Hokkien culture. These associations, known as “kongsi” in Hokkien, serve as social and welfare organizations that provide support and assistance to the Hokkien community. They also organize cultural events, maintain ancestral halls, and promote Hokkien traditions and values.

Religion: Hokkiens practice a mix of religious beliefs, including Taoism, Buddhism, and ancestral worship. Temples and shrines dedicated to various deities are scattered throughout Hokkien communities, where people gather to pray, make offerings, and seek divine blessings.

Mazu:The worship and customs of Mazu, the goddess of the sea, are an important part of the traditional culture of Minnan (Hokkien) region. They include rituals such as “praying for wind,” “offering to the sea,” and the Spring and Autumn ancestral ceremonies. Other activities involve the division of stoves, pilgrimages to ancestral temples (“paying respects to ancestors and making incense offerings”), and the “procession and blessings of Mazu’s holy chariot.” Divination cups, drawing lots, and the “seeking of turtles” during the Lantern Festival are also observed. Various artistic performances related to offering homage to the gods, as well as folklore, legends, children’s rhymes, and proverbs associated with Mazu, carry significant cultural significance and are invaluable intangible cultural heritage that requires preservation and documentation.

Overall, Hokkien culture is a vibrant and enduring heritage that has been preserved and passed down through generations. It encompasses language, festivals, cuisine, traditional arts, and a strong sense of community, contributing to the diverse cultural landscape of Southeast Asia and beyond.


In conclusion, Hokkien language, with its deep historical roots and cultural significance, stands as a testament to the linguistic diversity within the Chinese-speaking world. Its dialectal variations, spread across different regions and countries, reflect the adaptability and resilience of this vibrant language. While facing challenges in the modern era, the preservation and promotion of Hokkien are crucial for maintaining the cultural heritage andlinguistic identity of Hokkien-speaking communities. By recognizing its value and supporting its continued use, we can ensure that Hokkien remains a living language, connecting generations and bridging cultures.

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