Re: [singaporeheritage] FW: Hokkien- Ancient Imperial Language of China - 2,000 Years Ago

No offence to the Hokkien tongue but I doubt Hokkien has alot in common with ancient Tang.  Hokkien, together with Cantonese, Foochow, Teochew, Wu (Shanghaiese), Gan and Xiang, probably has alot more in common with the languages of ancient Nan Yue Kingdom than with ancient Tang tongue.  The theories in the earlier posting have been repeated many times but that does not mean they are true.  I suspect they are manifestation of Hokkien pride meant to identify the more peripheral present with a glorious metropolitan past.
There is a lot of historical evidence that up to 1000 A.D., Fujian and most of southern China was still largely inhabitated by the original Nan Yue tribes - in Fujian, specifically Min Yue.  It is the fall of Tang and later of Song, that led to repeated wave of northern Han Chinese migration to the south that changed the demographic landscape of the region.  The Hokkien people of today is probably a mixture of Min and Han.
Whilst it was true that the North was invaded by Mongols and Jurchens, these peoples speak languages of the Altalic-Uralic and other linguistic groups which are totally different from the Sino-Tibetan group of languages that Mandarin, Hokkien, Cantonese and various southern dialects belong to.  In any case, the population of these nomadic tribes was too small to have significant impact on Mandarin apart from some specialised terms relating to military bureaucracy (e.g., qi or banner) and Beijing (e.g. hutong).
In fact, Hokkien's links with Nan Yue makes it a more exotic tongue that identifies itself closely with the diverse cultures of Southeast Asia.  This is especially relevant considering the Fujian's historical maritime links with the region.
My 2 cents worth.

--- On Thu, 1/1/09, Beng Kiat Lee <> wrote:
From: Beng Kiat Lee
Subject: [singaporeheritage] FW: Hokkien- Ancient Imperial Language of China - 2,000 Years Ago
Date: Thursday, January 1, 2009, 4:41 AM

Subject: PFw: Ancient Imperial Language of China - 2,000 Years Ago
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 2008 08:33:33 +0000

This is INTERESTING ! Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld

Ancient Imperial Language of China – 2,000 Years Ago

How Did it Sound Like? (Mind you, it's no way similar to Mandarin)
Has this Ancient Language Survived?
Who Speaks it Today?

You'll be Surprised.  You have heard it.  You, your parents, or grandparents may still be speaking this ancient, archaic language!

Yes, it's HOKKIEN (Fujian/Minnan Hua)

Hokkien is:

1.       The surviving language of the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), China 's Golden Age of Culture.  
Note: The Hokkien we hear today may have "evolved" from its original form 2,000 years ago, but it still retains the main elements of the Tang Dynasty Language.

2.       Hokkiens are the surviving descendants of the Tang Dynasty -- When the Tang Dynasty collapsed, the people of the Tang Dynasty fled South and sought refuge in the Hokkien ( Fujian ) province. Hence, Hokkien called themselves Tng-lang (Tang Ren or People of the Tang Dynasty) instead of Hua Lang (Hua Ren).

3.       Hokkien has 8 tones instead of Mandarin's 4.  Linguists claim that ancient languages tend to have more complex tones.

4.       Hokkien retains the ancient Chinese pronunciation of "K-sounding" endings (for instance, Hak Seng (student), Tua Ok (university), Thak Chek (read a book/study) -- the "k" sounding ending is not found in Mandarin.  

5.       The collection of the famous "Three Hundred Tang Dynasty Poems" sound better when recited in Hokkien/Teochew if compared to Mandarin.

6.       Consider this for a moment: T! oday, the Hokkien Nam Yim ochestral performance still has its roots in ancient Tang dynasty music. Here's the proof: The formation of today Nam Yim ensemble is typically seen in ancient Tang dynasty paintings of musicians.

More Astonishingly:
Although not genetically-related, Hokkiens, Koreans and Japanese share many similar words (which are different from Mandarin).

That's because Hokkien was the official language of the powerful Tang Dynasty whose influence and language spread to Japan and Korea (just like Latin – where many words were borrowed by the English, French, Italian, etc).  Here are just a few words in Hokkien, Japanese & Korean for your comparison:




Sin Boon (news)

Sin Mun

Shinbun - newspaper

Cheng Hu (government)

Chong Bu


Pang (room)



Chhia (car/vehicle)



Mui/M'ng (door)



P'hio (ticket)



Eng Wan (eternal)

Yong Won


Chaek (book)  



Ki (flag)



Kang river)



Poh Hiam (insurance)

Poh Ham


Sio Sim (caution)

Cho sim


Mo Kui (demon)

Ma gui


Cham (attend/join/mix)

Ch'am sok


Kantan (simple)

Gan Dan


Sin Sei Kai (new world)

Shin Sae Gae


Kok Ka (nation)

Kuk Kka


Hya (elder brother)



Choon Pi (prepare)

Jun Bi


Si Kan (time)

Si Kan


Kam tong (emotion, feeling)

Kam Jong


Kamsia (gratitude, thanks)

Kam Sa


Keat Hoon (marriage)

Kyol Hon


Oon Tong (exercise)

Un Dong


Tua Ok (university)

Tae Hak


Aun Chuan (safety)

An Jon

An Zen  

Mua Chiok(satisfaction)

Man Jok


Ai Lang (lover)

Ae In


Seng Kong (success)

Song Kong


Chhiu Sat (suicide)

Cha sal


Pu Do (grapes)

P'o d'o


Chin Por (progress)

Chin bo



To all 49 Million Hokkien Speakers:

Be Proud of Your Ancient Hokkien Heritage & Language!  Speak it Loud and Clear.  Teach Your Future Generation this Imperial Language, Less it Fades Away.  Be Proud Children of the Tang Emperors.

To all Mandarin-speaking friends out there -- do not look down on your other Chinese friends who do not speak Mandarin – whom you guys fondly refer to as "Bananas".  In fact, they are speaking a language which is much more ancient & linguistically complicated than Mandarin.  

Keep in mind that Mandarin is just:

1.       A Northern Chinese dialect (heavily influenced by non Han Chinese) that was elevated to the status of National Language by Sun Yat Sen for the sake of China's national unity.

2.       Mandarin was never spoken by your proud, imperial Tang Dynasty ancestors.  It was probably spoken by the Northern (Non-Han) Jurchen, Mongols and Manchu minority.  Start speaking the language of your ancestors today.







Unknown said…
I am from China, the formerly non Han Chinese area. No matter what the history of Hokkien, Madarin is the national dialect and Hokkien/Cantonese are only regional dialect spoken by a very small number of people.
Dan said…
I am from Penang, a place where the Chinese majority speak both Mandarin and Hokkien, as well as other Chinese dialects. I do share similar thoughts with you on the topic. Since you're in the academic field (am not sure if its in history or linguistics) but what is your opinion on the similarities the Hokkien, Korean, and Japanese share? Thanks