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Hakka, Cantonese, Zhuang, Thai and Tibetan

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Recently, I saw a forum thread that commented on the relationship between Cantonese and Zhuang, a Tai-Kadai language.

Connection between Cantonese and Zhuang

In that thread,

涼颼颼: leong tsam tsam 其中 leong 明顯是漢語「涼」,而 tsam 正是壯語的「涼」。

白晃晃:pak lai sai 其中 pak 肯定是漢語的「白」,但 lai sai 卻是壯語的「非常」。

想: nam 與壯語的「想」 nam 完全一樣。

水軟:nam 與壯語的 num 同源。

the person claims that the BB/BC part of the ABB/ABC Cantonese adjectives and some other Cantonese verbs are of Tai-Kadai origin. Therefore, it claims that Cantonese is not a pure Han language.

I am not a linguist but I want to know the secret of ABB adjectives in Cantonese so bad.

Zhuang is an endanger language so its resource is scarce so I have to google Zhunag people's forum and ask them for resources. In Zhuang people forum, they even have posts like "learn Zhuang this summer". Many Zhuang people seem to me that they don't speak Zhuang anymore. The more I know the relationship of Zhuang with Cantonese and other Chinese languages, the more I appreciate their language. I wish they could preserve their heritage.

After some simple research such as looking Zhuang-Han Dictionary, I found that Cantonese ABB/ABC adjectives are closely related to the Zhuang language, which you will ultimately see some

of these words in Thai language.

The following is my little research on Cantonese ABB/ABC with Zhuang adjectives:


For clearer version, please go to:


FYI: h, j,q, j and z are tone marks for Zhuang.

Structure of many Cantonese ABB/ABC adjectives:

In many Cantonese ABB/ABC adjectives, A is certainly a word of Han origin and BB/BC word is Zhuang pronunciation. But I don't know if BB/BC are loan words of Han.

That needs further research. In Zhunag ABB/ABC adjectives, sometimes A part look like Han loan words to me. However, some don't look like loan words.

Most of the Cantonese words that only have sound (you can't write it out or you can just write it with homophones) are Zhuang pronunciations.

The Fucnction of ABB/ABC adjectives in Zhuang/Other Tai-Kadai languages:

Zhuang have AB and ABB/ABC adjectives. ABB/ABC is more intense than AB adjective and it conveys stronger emotion.

For example.

rauej rub = warm

rauej rub rub = extremely warm

The Cantonese version of it is lyun5 lap1 lap1. (暖笠笠). Cantonese don't have Zhuang's AB adjectives.

While I was looking up Zhuang resources, I accidentally looked into Tibetan language researches which some of them use Cantonese pronunciations to compare with Old Tibetan

and they try to prove that Tibetan is related to Han language branch. I don't know if these resources are reliable because there might be some political undertone behind them. But their works

do sound reasonable to me. Then I go to learn some Tibetan. I really see similarities of Tibetan with some Chinese languages.

The following is my little finding.

"唔" m2

In Cantonese, "不" (not, no) is called "唔"m2. In Hakka, "not, no" is also called m2. In Thai, "not, no" is called "mai" and "mi".

Sometimes, Cantonese even use "mai'. For exmaple, "咪郁" (Don't Move) is called "mai yuk). Never mind the tone.

When I looked up my Tibetan learning book, I saw some strange thing. Tibetan sometimes called 不 as "mi"!


Even stranger, Tibetan "not moving" looks even like Cantonese "Don't move"!


"Mi gyoba" sound a bit like "Mai yuk".

"氹氹圈" dam6 dam6 hyun1

We Cantonese don't know what "dam6 dam6" means exactly. It seems that word can not be found in ancient Han dictionary. I think that might because we forget how to write the right word.

Zhuang call "circle" as "nduen". To me, the consonant "nd" sounds a bit like d but with a touch of nasal. In Thai, they call "circle" as "klom"

Surprisingly , Tibetan call "circle" as "zlum"!


Finally, I guess "dam6 dam6 hyun1" mean "circle-circle-circle"

"涼浸浸" leong4 zam1 zam1.

The claim at the beginning of the post is not right. I can find "zam1" in ancient Chinese dictionary with correct word.


"zam1" means cold air, so "leong4 zam1 zam1" means "cool-cold air-cold air"

However, I can see why someone would claim "leong4 zam1 zam1" came from Zhuang,

In Zhuang,

rumz = wind (z is a tone mark, you can neglect it in your head")

rumz liengz = wind cool, that means cool wind.

Even more surprising, Tibetan "wind" is called "rlung"!



The other claim is also wrong.

Nam2 can be found in ancient Chinese literature.


I have looked up books on Old Tibetan. Tibetan "thinking" nowadays is called "sems" but it was pronounced as "sjem" (the e in here should be an inverse and flipped e. I can't type that out)

Ke (feces)

In Cantonese, people sometimes call "feces" as "ke". In Zhuang, "feces" is called "ki". In Thai, "feces" is also called "ki"

Amusingly, Tibetan "feces" is called "kaka". But this is a baby language.


Tibetan, Hakka, Wu

Sun in Tibetan = nyi ma


Sun in Hakka = Ngiet

Sun in Wu = Nyiet

I think Tibetan preserves the sound of old Chinese even better. (I don't how the Tibetan think)

Tibetan call 20 "nyi shu". Hakka call 20 "ngi siip". Hakka's "ngi" is same as Tibetan "nyi". This is just romanization problem.

I wish that justify the impression that people always call Cantonese words as "slang". At the end, these slang words can be found in

other Chinese languages such as Hakka, Wu, Tai-Kaidai languages such as Tai and even in Tibetan.

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This previous post is too long so I started a new reply for the update.

渠 - The Third Personal Pronoun of Asia

Since "渠" can mean "drain", Cantonese take out the water radical and wood out of "渠" and create a new character "佢", which a human radical is added to the left side.

Wu speakers add a 人 human radical to 渠 to clarity that it is for the use of pronoun .

In the past, water pipes were made of wood. That's probably the reason why "渠" has a wood part.

In Wu (Zhejian province),

he, she = 渠/(人+渠) gei.

I've asked some Wu speakers from Zhejian, they said their g is a voiced g. Unlike other Chinese languages that take g to represent k.)


In Hakka,

he, she = 佢 ki


In Cantonese,

he,she = 佢(渠) keoi5

In Jyutping, K is represented by g while Kh is represented by K. Therefore it should be "Kheoi".

In Thai,

he, she = khao


In Tibetan,

he = kho


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i think 'nam' is 念 instead of 想. 念 can mean 想 if you are talking about 'missing somebody' when you have not seen each other for some time.

the chinese have clay water pipes since 3000 yrs back.

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Names of Reproductive System in Tibeto-Burman

I read a journal called "The Tibeto-Burmo Reproductive System towards an Etymological Thesaurus"

Link: http://escholarship.org/uc/item/3c40r8jv#page-1

Some Tibeto-Burman languages call penis as *s-kyu


In Thai, penis is called "khuay"


In Cantonese, penis can also be called "gau2" (the g in here is actually a k, so it is should be "kau2".

"Kau2" is a profanity.

Some Tibeto-Burmo langauges call penis as "*b/m-lang"


In Cantonese and Hakka (and probably Min?). penis is called "lan2" (In Cantonese pronunciation)

The Chinese character of "lan2"


It is so easy to lose ng to become n. Nowadays people pronounce 行hong4 as 寒hon4.

i think 'nam' is 念 instead of 想. 念 can mean 想 if you are talking about 'missing somebody' when you have not seen each other for some time.

the chinese have clay water pipes since 3000 yrs back.

In Cantonese, 諗 can mean thinking or missing someone.

"我諗" - I think

"諗法" - belief/thinking

"我重諗住佢" - I still think of him/her. (quite miss him/her)

I remember reading a book of Qing China and there was a pic titled with "wooden pipes".

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