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zomis93

hakka in vietnam

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zomis93

Hi everybody. I am an ABC trying to find out more about the native tongue of my parents. They speak to me in cantonese, but a few weeks ago I found out that both sides of my family originally spoke a dialect of Hakka Chinese which they call "Ngai". The only thing I know is that it is spoken in by the Chinese rural farm workers in Vietnam. My questions are:

Is it mutually intelligibility with Meixian Hakka?

Does the dialect have any distinguishable features?

Do the tones differ from Meixian Hakka?

Why is it called Ngai and what is the chinese character for it?

Any input will greatly be appreciated.

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sh1053

Hi zomis93,

Just stumbled on your post. It has been a while since you posted, so I hope you are still around.

It's a shame that your parents haven't been able to pass any of the language to you, but I can understand. It's not easy to keep speaking when no one around you is speaking. I have been fighting a losing battle trying to keep it alive amongst my family. It's an especially tough task given that there isn't any material out there available, other than word of mouth from family.

I can tell you a little of what I know. Yes, you are right: Ngai is still spoken in a few rural areas of Vietnam, including Po Ham, Dinh Quan and Tung Nghia. I visited these places with my parents a few years ago. Also, I'm told that it is definitely still spoken in my father's hometown in southern China, near Vietnamese border, called Li Po.

My parents are now almost 80yo and first migrated from Mongcai on the Chinese border in the 1950's. They were part of a mass migration to south of Vietnam and ended up settling in a town called Tung Nghia. Your family may have had a similar history. You should be able to check with your parents/grandparents.

To answer your questions:

1) I think Ngai is similar to Meixian Hakka, a lot of the vocab is common, but I haven't been able to hear audio of someone speaking Meixian Hakka to be able to confirm. I have seen material in a book by a linguist named Hashimoto with sample dialogue that I could understand.

2) Ngai has borrowed a lot from Cantonese, so a lot of vocab is similar except it's pronounced differently.

3) I haven't heard audio example of Meixian Hakka being spoken, but I would expect it to sound similar except for accent.

4) My parents have always known it as Ngai and have never considered it Hakka. I think referring our language and our people as Ngai dates back a long way and Hakka is only a relatively recent name given to it by others and widely used by eg. Taiwanese Hakka's.

Best of luck in your journey...

Regards,

sh1053

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Zomac

hey, it is coincidental that I just read an article on this ethnic group in Vietnam two days ago (i will go there soon).

Ngai (compared to Ngo in Cantonese) refers to the sound for "I" in hakka so I think the proper Chinese character for Ngai is 我. However 艾 seems to be more popular.

http://baike.baidu.com/view/1380108.htm?func=retitle

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sh1053

Hi,

I've seen info about minority group you're referring to but these people are definitely not the Ngai we're talking about here.

the character isn't the same as one meaning "I/me" in Hakka, different tone. Ngai as in language/people is 4th tone I think.

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Ah-Bin

I suspect the Ngai of Vietnam will be quite different from Moi-yen (Meixian) style Hakka, and more similar to the Hakka spoken in Guangxi. Hakka dialects usually vary very widely and I've heard some very different types of Hakka down in Guangxi. There is a book about some Guangxi Hakka dialects written in Chinese that I may try to order when I get to China, and (if I remember) I'll try to post some of my findings on here.

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sh1053

Hi Ah-Bin,

A book about Guangxi Hakka? That sounds very interesting. I hope there's some info about Ngai. I'm really looking forward to seeing your post. When are you planning to make you trip?

Regards,

sh1053

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Ah-Bin

I'll go next month.

There was something else I wanted to add about Hakkas in VN. Not all of them are classed as Ngái, only those who came overland through Guangxi. The Hakkas who lived in the south in Saigon were classed as người Hoá (Hoa People) along with the Cantonese and Hokkien speakers.

The book I am talking about is a study of the Hakka spoken in Yulin 鬱林 (the Communists renamed it 玉林) and Pubei. These counties are only an hour or two from the Vietnamese border. This is southern Guangxi Hakka, different again from the kind spoken in northern Guangxi.

The Wikipedia page in Vietnamese says they speak "Vietnamese" "Cantonese" and "Phương ngữ Thái Sơn" = "Thai Son dialect" but I;m unsure what they are referring to here. Thái Sơn is the Vietnamese pronunciation of 泰山 Tai Shan, but I'm sure this isn;t what they mean because that is in north China.

A kind of Cantonese was definitely spoken in the northeast corners of Vietnam, I haven't met anyone who speaks it, but I have a guide to learning the Tho language (now called Tay Nung in Vietnam) which has translations in French, Vietnamese, Tho, and "Nung" - but the strange thing is the "Nung" is actually Guangxi style Cantonese written out according to the rules of Vietnamese pronunciation.

One question to diagnose whether the Ngai language is close to Guangxi Hakka is to ask your relatives who speak it how they say the word for "three". If they say "sam" then it is probably quite different from Guangxi Hakka, but if they say something like "hlam" (using the sound you can find in Welsh written ll) then it is quite likely that it is similar to southern Guangxi Hakka.

Maybe I am wrong, if they come from near Mong Cai they might speak a Yunnanese sort of Hakka which I don't know muh about at all.

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sh1053

that's interesting info about the Hoa. I might see if my parents know about these people and the Hakka they speak.

We definitely say "sam" (or "sarm") for the no.3 but this could be influence by Cantonese.

I haven't heard about connection to Yunnanese Hakka before. I do know that spoken Ngai streches out as far Fangcheng.

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zomis93

Thanks for responding. I've waited for ages for a response and ended up using http://www.chinahistoryforum.com/index.php?/topic/33729-hakka-in-vietnam/

Its been a while so I really hope this thread hasn't died out. It would be great if we can continue the discussion. It be a shame if this topic doesn't continue.

1) I think Ngai is similar to Meixian Hakka, a lot of the vocab is common, but I haven't been able to hear audio of someone speaking Meixian Hakka to be able to confirm. I have seen material in a book by a linguist named Hashimoto with sample dialogue that I could understand.

The above link was confirmed to be Meixian Hakka. If you have time, How is it different from Ngai? It seems to have some Mandarin influence.

2) Ngai has borrowed a lot from Cantonese, so a lot of vocab is similar except it's pronounced differently.

Any examples of the top of your head? Even though it has borrowed a lot of Cantonese vocab would you say its still unintelligible?

My parents have always known it as Ngai and have never considered it Hakka. I think referring our language and our people as Ngai dates back a long way and Hakka is only a relatively recent name given to it by others and widely used by eg. Taiwanese Hakka's.

I've read that its called Ngai because the local Cantonese people felt that Hakka is full of Ngai sounds and so that's what they called the language. This happened around an area where the classification of "Hakka" was unknown. Eventually even the "Hakka" themselves adopted this name.

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zomis93
the character isn't the same as one meaning "I/me" in Hakka, different tone. Ngai as in language/people is 4th tone I think.

I think it was pronounced in a rising tone.

There is a book about some Guangxi Hakka dialects written in Chinese that I may try to order when I get to China, and (if I remember) I'll try to post some of my findings on here.

I greatly look forward to the information. Thanks Ah-bin!

One question to diagnose whether the Ngai language is close to Guangxi Hakka is to ask your relatives who speak it how they say the word for "three". If they say "sam" then it is probably quite different from Guangxi Hakka, but if they say something like "hlam" (using the sound you can find in Welsh written ll) then it is quite likely that it is similar to southern Guangxi Hakka.

I guess it is a Guangxi Hakka dialect then. Are there any other traits that distinguish GuangXi and GuangDong hakka?

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sh1053

In Northern and Western Guangdong, the Jiaying dialect was named “ Ngai-wa” by the Cantonese instead (named after the first person pronoun in Hakka, “ Ngai” ).

http://web.archive.org/web/19991111070832/www.acad.polyu.edu.hk/~96981339r/hakpeo~1.htm

Hi, not sure where article comes from or who author is, but I would question it because it is not how I understand it. Yes we do call it "ngai wa" as well but it is definitely not the pronoun.

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sh1053

thanks for the YouTube link. It is a little different to ngai. I will try to do comparison and maybe upload some audio myself soon.

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Mugi

The "Ngai" is almost certainly referring to the first person pronoun "I/me" and is commonly employed to refer to Hakka people and their language in mainland China, especially when the communities in question are relatively isolated from other Hakka communities and as such traditionally have not identified themselves as "Hakka" per se.

"Ngai" is the vernacular reading (白音) of 我, but given that it differs from the literary reading (文音) of "ngo" (which is often the vernacular pronunciation of other neighboring dialects), it is often written with another character of the same or similar pronunciation (e.g. 艾, 崖). In Taiwan and Meixian sources, it is often rendered with the made up character 亻厓. (See part way down this page if you can't view the character properly.)

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zomis93

Are there other examples of this for other Hakka words?

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zomis93
We definitely say "sam" (or "sarm") for the no.3 but this could be influence by Cantonese.

Sarm? I thought southern varieties of Chinese don't have an 'R' sound.... Are they not exclusive to northern varieties like Beijing mandarin??

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sh1053

Sarm? I thought southern varieties of Chinese don't have an 'R' sound.... Are they not exclusive to northern varieties like Beijing mandarin??

sorry just mean that it is a hard "a" sound. It's the same pronunciation as Cantonese three. I guess you can use romanization "saam".

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zomis93

Wow!!! Thanks for the audio. It seems to be a bit different from my families Ngai though. My families Ngai has the "lh" sound mentioned above ( Its also in Taishanese ). So sam and si would be Lham and Lhi. Xiang would be Lhang. Ngi would be Ni. I think Nga would be Ya.. I think... (I should ask my mom again).

http://fahrenheit-globa1.actifforum.com/learning-room-233982006423460-f20/learn-to-speak-ngai-t2942.htm

I think my Ngai might be more similar to the one in the link. The "Lh" is romanized as "Sl" in the above link.

What province in china did your parents originate from? Southern Guangxi?

Who are the Ngai? The Ngai comprise one of the smallest of Vietnam’s 53 minority groups with an estimated population of 1,430. There are five subgroups, made up of three tiny Chinese-speaking communities. Their name is derived from San Ngai, which means "mountaineers".

http://www.vnpeoples.org/Ngai/index.htm

Hmmm....

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gato

The Chinese name for the Ngai minority in Vietnam is 涯, which is apparently the word for "I" in the Ngai language.

http://www.wikilib.com/wiki?title=%E8%B6%8A%E5%8D%97%E6%B0%91%E6%97%8F&variant=zh-cn

越南民族

涯族,Ngai

Apparently, the Hakka language is called 涯话 in Guangxi, the same 涯 as in the Chinese name for the Ngai minority.

See the Baidu-pedia entry below. It says that Guangxi Hakka has incorporated more Cantonese words, and that among other differences, the words for "three" and "four" are pronounced somewhat differently in Guangxi Hakka and Guangdong Hakka.

http://baike.baidu.com/view/1907566.htm?fr=ala0_1_1

涯话,是广东西部及广西南部地区对客家话的通称,因客家话第一人称为涯(仅声调不同)而得名,根据发音还写作崖话、哎话、埃话等,涯话写法最普遍。涯话不能认为是客家话的一种,因为不同地方涯话也一样口音不同。涯话与客家话的关系,如同自行车与脚踏车一样。由于客家人在迁入上述时间较迟,且分布不太集中,或多或少受与当地其他方言相互影响。语言是发展的,同样不能认为梅州等地的客家话一成不变。

涯话的特点

  涯话分大涯、细涯:大涯受其他方言影响相对小,分布区域涯话占主导;细涯则受其他方言(如白话、电白黎话)影响大,分布区域涯话不占主导。

  涯话与一般客家话最大的区别在于其有明显的地域特点。在发音上,存在粤西等地区常见的边擦音,如三、四、细、生、晒等字;在词汇上,引入不少粤语词,如劏等,部分地区还有耐(音nǒi,久的意思)、睇等。

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