[ A Note from Prof. Liim's
lecture "Unified Spelling for Taiwanese Language" to the Student Associatioin
at Yale University in July 1992]
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Edition. . .. .
Taiwanese Dialects and Derivative Vowels
| The Taiwanese Modern
Spelling System (TMSS) does, like most Western languages, construct all
vocabularries using five vowel letters a, e, i, o, u as building blocks.
To allow these vocabularies become common literal bases for all Taiwanese
people, it is demanded to be unique and fixed. But the actual
situation is that people of different localities speak in somewhat different
sounds. To avoid thid discrepancy between fixed spelling
and dirrerently talked sounds, the only solution seems to apply some additional
phonetic symbols or to make special notation on the unified spelling for
each group of readers or learners. Thus, a given letter in
the spelling can represent another sound. We say the
latter one is the derivative
of the original sound.
In a book entitled as "Introductory Taiwanese (1971)", Dr. Oong Iogteg
gave the following comparative list as his own study on different dialects
||TMSS , with reminder
||koef , koef
||soea , soea
||toea , toea
||loee , loee
Here, the TMSS in 1942 was originally the Amoy dialect, but was later given
an arbitrary reminder by hand on the vowel "oe". It was explained
that any reminder on the vowel of a TMSS let that vowel be read with the
local sound of the readers, and the teacher can teach his pupils with this
local sound, though the TMSS spelling is unchanged..
This is to say that .the
unified spelling of TMSS-word is meaning-oriented, but you can pronounce
it at will.
Such arbitrary pronunciation of Taiwanese words is quite abundant.
Especially in those colloquial words, i.e. words with pronunciation at
least partly colloquial. A well known case is the word "principal
which is procounced as [hauxtvior]
in Tainan area, and in the same sence, the word "Presbyterian Church Tviwlor-Kaohoe"
We may add an underline or other reminding symbol on the vowel viu
be underlined or added with some upper symbols to express its derivation
of pronunciation to [ve].
are "birthday svijit",
"become sick phoarpvi",
"theater stage hie'pvii',
useage of underline on.i.was
dropped around 1950 after the observation that Christian in Tainan area
th Bible with thir local sound of [vio]
and [ve] at will and without
serious problem, however, was found that some Taipei people strongly oppose
MLT when they saw the sentence: "Goarn khix zhaychi'ar
boea hii. (We went market to buy fishes.)".
They say they speak as "[gurn khux zhaychi'ar boea
huu]". Thus they oppose those TMSS-words
"we goarn", "go khix",
and "fishhii", and want to alter
them into "we gurn", "go
and "fish huu". In
Amoy-Taiwanese dictionary, there is a word "we gurn"
but no "go khux", and "fish
the "Great Tai-Nichi Dictionary (1930)" by the preceding Taiwanese Government-General,
there are, in page 3, two special Taiwanese pronunciation "u" and
"o". It states
that pronunciation of them are as followings: "u": mouth
as "i" and tongue as "u"; and "o": mouth as "e"
and tongue as "o"¡C o
is equivalent to ò,
"u" in this dictionary corresponds to the above Taipei sound of
"u" which appears in some Amoy words pronounced as "i" and are adopted
so by TMSS. Since so, it is more reasonable for us to take
it as the derivation of vowel "i" in TMSS, and denote it as "i",
also a vowel exchange of u=i.
Examples are "permit hykhor or
"vanity khanghy or khanghw",
"behavior kytong or kwtong",
etc. We accept both as legal TMSS words.
The special pronunciation
"o" in the dictionary seems to correspond to the southern sound
of Tainan area. In Amoy dialect, it is the ordinary [o] as
in Church Romanization. Amoy dialect is quite near to present
Gilan sound in this connection. It was noted that the phonetics
of [o.] expresses a throat voice, where
the high point means the bottom of throat. Actually,
this sound is not heard in southern sound. This is a quite
difficult situation, and should be clearlified with the following table.
|Single [o] in Amoy
A very special sound only heard in Gilaan is [vui].
This appears as a substitute to vowel ng
in TMSS words. Thus, it may be given an underline reminder
to suggest the sound derivation, if necessary. Some of actual
cases are listed below.
|TMSS with reminder
Standaard TMSS sound of voai
is also pronounced as [vui]in
Gilaan. Examples are:
etc. These are taken as vowel derivation and given the underline
In summary, the
following table will be helpful for MLT/TMSS users. Good remark is
obtained for o only.
|| Taipag people
||[ oe] or [ e]
||o or o
the reminder is not always necessary, in ordinary MLT/TMSS document, the
reminder can be
a separate phonetic expression,
it is convenient to apply following special phonetic symbols:
|[ e ] or [ è
||Sharp e-sound, for spelling "ei"
|[ e ][ en ]
||Light e, for spelling "ie" "ien"
|[ ve ]
||Southern ve, for spelling vi
|[ eng ] or [ èng
||Northern ing, for spelling eng
|[ i ] or [ ì
||( = [ u ] ) Northern u
|[ vio ]
||Southern sound for spelling viu
|[ o ], [ ø
] or [ ò ]
||Southern o, Northern puckered o
(mouth "e" tongue "o")
|[ o ]
||Southern o, Northern open
|[ oe ] or [ øe
||Northern oe, Southern e
|[ u ] or [ ù ]
|| Northern u,
(mouth "i" tongue "u")
|[ vui ]
||Gilaan sound for ng and voai
Dialects and Derivative Vowels
. . . . from
Professor Liim's lecture "Unified Spelling for Taiwanese Language"
in July, 1992