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Self-studying Fuzhounese (自学福州话) - materials/suggestions


OuNuo
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Hello everyone,

 

I am just starting to study Fuzhounese (because my wife's family is from there and especially her grandparents are often speaking it). I was browsing around in the Non-Mandarin Chinese section and found four posts related to it:

1. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/13512-fuzhou-dialect/

2. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/45638-在线福州话词典/

3. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/58495-an-introduction-to-foochow/

4. https://www.chinese-forums.com/forums/topic/47618-fuzhou-dialect-fuzhounese/

 

I am currently using some of the materials listed also in these posts, i.e.:

1. The youtube/bilibili channel of 真鸟团福州话学堂 (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZP32DtlkgizaXHrygkyi3A   and  https://space.bilibili.com/10085548 ) as well as their Wechat account where they reused the book "An introduction to the Foochow dialect" (see below).

2. The dicctionary published by them: 榕典 (https://www.ydict.net/ )

3. The "original" book: Leo Chen, Jerry Norman, “An introduction to the Foochow dialect”, San Fransisco State College, 1965 --> I found it somewhere online, please don't ask me where.

4. Some wordlist I found on Baidu: https://zhuanlan.zhihu.com/p/21699378

5. The Wikipedia article to the Fuzhou dialect (https://zh.wikipedia.org/wiki/福州話)

6. My family, if I have questions about translations and pronunciation

 

Since it seemed like some people here already studied or are still actively studying it, I was wondering what materials you use and if you have any hints or suggestions. I am aware that Fuzhounese is really hard to learn because of all the tone sandhi and consonant/vowel changes. 

If I ever get enough points on the forum (and free time) I also want to start a blog about the topic. I am currently working through the course from 真鸟团福州话学堂 on wechat while also double-checking with the book and wikipedia (for tone sandhi) and write explanations for each sentence which I will share later on, if the topic is interesting enough. Of course, I am not a linguist and neither is my family, so if some rule is not 100% clear and I find an answer for myself (by asking or whatever) I can't guarantee that it's correct.

 

Lastly, you will notice that a lot of the material is only available in mandarin chinese (which I speak/read well enough), but I am also translating a lot of it into English and started my own little (excel) wordlist which I will also share, if someone is interested (or in the blog).

 

Kind regards,

OuNuo (欧诺)

 

 

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When I lived in Kunming, I often watched a local TV program consisting of news and travel reports that was broadcast daily in the local dialect 昆明话。If you could find one or two like that in 福州话 it would probably be useful. As I'm sure you know, the beauty of TV is that you are immediately supplied with visual context, and that makes it easier to figure out the meaning of obscure phrases. 

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When I lived in Kunming, I often watched a local TV program consisting of news and travel reports that was broadcast daily in the local dialect 昆明话。If you could find one or two like that in 福州话 it would probably be useful. As I'm sure you know, the beauty of TV is that you are immediately supplied with visual context, and that makes it easier to figure out the meaning of obscure phrases. 

 

I heard from a friend that there is some news channel in the dialect. I'll have to ask him again where I can find it and search for some dramas etc. Did you start watching TV directly from the beginning? I feel like I still need to build up some basic understanding first. 

 

On the channel of 真鸟团福州话学堂 (on Wechat) I found some short stories with transcripts. So I think they will also be helpful (https://mp.weixin.qq.com/mp/appmsgalbum?__biz=Mzg3MzYzMDM1OA==&action=getalbum&album_id=2201017712083075073#wechat_redirect). They also provide an audio of the text which is great but of course a video/ series with subtitles would be even better.

 

Thanks for your suggestions @pon00050 and @abcdefg

 

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On 11/1/2022 at 12:51 PM, OuNuo said:

Did you start watching TV directly from the beginning? I feel like I still need to build up some basic understanding first. 

 

Yes, I did even though I didn't understand more than about half. The content was interesting. The hosts went to interesting places and talked with interesting people. But I was just watching it for fun; not as part of a concerted effort to learn the dialect, so our situation is not quite the same. 

 

Lived in Kunming about 8 years and was frankly afraid to try very hard to speak the local dialect because my Putonghua 普通话 was still just evolving. Was concerned that I would pick up bad habits of speech that would interfere with my grasp of standard Chinese.  

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just published "Fuzhou Dialect Dictionary"

Edited by Chen Zeping and Lin Qin, Fujian People's Publishing House

This dictionary brings together the research results of Fuzhou dialect and completely reflects the whole picture of Fuzhou dialect vocabulary. It is the largest and most complete Fuzhou dialect dictionary so far. It collects more than 28,000 words and familiar proverbs, accommodating a large amount of local cultural and historical information of Fujian. The dictionary takes into account both theory and practicality, and provides Chinese character writing forms for all words. At the same time, it provides the simplest Fuzhou dialect pinyin solution to solve phonetic problems. This dictionary implements a brand-new arrangement concept. All dialect entries are arranged in the phonetic order of Putonghua pinyin. Using this dictionary is as convenient and fast as using "Xinhua Dictionary", and is equipped with a variety of indexes.

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On 11/2/2022 at 1:51 AM, abcdefg said:

The hosts went to interesting places and talked with interesting people. But I was just watching it for fun; not as part of a concerted effort to learn the dialect, so our situation is not quite the same. 

Definitely sounds fun! I actually found some older TV shows, some with Putonghua subtitles:

1. 讲有味

2. 攀讲

 

On 11/2/2022 at 2:02 AM, hoshi said:

just published "Fuzhou Dialect Dictionary"

Edited by Chen Zeping and Lin Qin, Fujian People's Publishing House

 

Thanks a lot. I found it on amazon! Just not available in my country but in my wife's :)  For anyone else interested, the ISBNs I found for it are:

ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 7211083077

ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-7211083077

I just hope its the Fuzhou dialect of the city and not the Minnan/Minbei dialects. 

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HI @OuNuo,

 

Glad to hear you're also learning a 闽东 variety!

You've seen some of the older material, but I have to say that the modern range of resources is quite spectacular.

 

Adding to the above: I remember when 福建方言大赛 was broadcast - that was pretty fun. 

Not all of it super accurate from a purely linguistic perspective, but interesting nonetheless!

 

On 11/2/2022 at 9:20 PM, OuNuo said:

I just hope its the Fuzhou dialect of the city and not the Minnan/Minbei dialects. 

Indeed it is.

 

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As for hints and suggestions:

 

In terms of actual practice, especially with natives as your "informants":

 

- Try not to use an academic mindset. This is no 普通话 or 国语 or Hochsprache; this is the tongue of your family and the local environment. 

- 番薯 is a much more important word than 胡萝卜, much less something exotic like 鳕鱼 or even 奶酪. The connection between 土地 and 地道 is very obvious.

- Language battles will be fought (three-way now, I assume? 方言 vs 普通话 vs 本地语言). Be prepared to compromise.

- As an Abstandsprache, you may find that not everyone will speak to you in the "most" 地道 version of 福州话, but instead possibly a somewhat 被普通化 Mandarinised version. This is also a type of language battle that you must be prepared to face. 

- High levels of dialectal variation: Not everyone will use the 福州话 of the posh 福州市区, and this may lead to a certain amount of self-criticism from your informants. Adopting some of those expressions yourself may sound just a tad pretentious, because of power dynamics. On the other hand, other more localised expressions may not be understood or even misunderstood. Be aware of these, and embrace the diversity!

 

Important language-specific hints (especially if your actual 沟通语言 is 普通话)

- Topic-comment is your friend, not your enemy. Do not force complicated 把/被 constructions or long relative clauses.

- Be aware of the difference in the system of classifiers. 一(蜀)粒苹果 is very normal (my heritage bias)!  

- Dealing with tone sandhi: Use the general framework of tones to give you a sense of what tones it could be. This will depend on variety, but you can easily get a sense of what is low and what is high. If you did any Middle Chinese in your studies (or if you know Cantonese on an academic level), this can be very helpful.

- Conversely, knowing that historical 上声 is just odd across Sinitic varieties is also important, but especially in Min and its sandhi forms.

- Missing / sandhi'ed-away k-/g- sounds are normal, so you may need to mentally add them back.

 

 

If I think of anymore, I'll update this post.

 

 

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Dear @Michaelyus,

 

Thanks for all the suggestions. I will definitely learn by word fields and topics rather than training any constructions and grammar in the way I learned 普通话.

 

I sure hope tone sandhi will somehow become normal/natural to me. Right now it still feels quite impossible to remember all the rules. 

 

@hoshi: BTW I 'got' the book for christmas. Just had a quick look into it to check that it wasn't damaged when it arrived and now it's waiting under the tree. I'll let you know more about it once I have read some of it.

 

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