Difference between revisions of "Hakka phrasebook"
Revision as of 17:57, 19 September 2012
Hakka (客家话; Kèjiāhuà in Mandarin) is one of the main seven or so Chinese languages. It is spoken across several provinces in Southeast China including Taiwan and Hainan and Hong Kong. In this article, the Hong Kong dialect of the Hakka language will be used.
The Hakka (客家 Kèjiā, IPA: [hak₃ ka₃₃] ) people are said to have migrated south from Northern China over the centuries to settle in southern Jiangsu and Hunan, western Fujian, eastern Guangdong, and various other areas, due to wars, famine, natural disasters, and political persecution. Hakka comes from the words '客' "guest" and '家' "families" which derives from an official term during the Qing Dynasty for the program of resettlement of the coastal areas of Guangdong after evacuation orders imposed during the reign of Emperor Kangxi. These settlers whose language seemed different to the original inhabitants were given this appellation to show they were not indigenous to the areas they became settled in. Most indigenous inhabitants occupied the more fertile basins, whilst the incoming Hakka became settled in the more inaccessible valleys and mountainous or hilly terrain. The Hakka language (客家话; Kèjiāhuà) is shares a common vocabulary with Southern languages such as Min and Yue, and there are regular sound correspondences to the historical sound system of Middle Chinese.
The most accessible Hakka speakers are found in Hong Kong and Taiwan. Most of them will be dual language speakers, in Hong Kong, they are able to understand and speak Cantonese, whilst on the mainland of China and on Taiwan, they will also speak Mandarin. There is no standard form of Hakka and regional variations in local dialects can be surmounted by understanding the gist of the spoken sentence and knowing some sound correspondences that the user will encounter.
There are some sounds in Hakka which do not occur in English. The following pronunciation guide aims to rhyme English words with the sounds found in the Hakka syllable. Please note they are approximations, you may require a Hakka speaker to guide your pronunciation.
The vowels can be long or short. Long vowels occur in open syllables, where there are no endings. Short vowels occur in syllables which end in nasals (-m, -n or -ng) or stops (-p, -t or -k).
In some dialects there is a vowel which we represent as ii, which does not occur in standard English. It is a retroflex i, the closest sound is almost like ir in "shir" when saying English 'sure'. In the Hong Kong dialect, these sounds become -i or -u.
Initial or Consonant
The tone changes known as sandhi does occur, but the change in the pitch is not as great as found in other Chinese languages.
Some Sound Correspondences between dialect of the Hakka Language
Apart from tonal differences, there are small variations in pronunciations from place to place. The following details some of the more commonly found differences, which may be helpful to the user when hearing other speakers from different areas.
h is sometimes pronounced as s, especially when there is a vowel -i- in the syllable. E.g. 兄 hiung1 may be pronounced siung1.
au is sometimes pronounced as o. E.g. 好 hau3 / ho3
ai is sometimes pronounced as e E.g. 雞 gai1 / ge1
Some Hakka dialects has the -u- medial, so you may hear words like 光 gong1 pronounced as guong1 (gwong1).
The twelve divisions of the hour by five minute increments makes it fairly convenient to tell the time.
Combine the two and you can express time as hour and minute combinations
When you want to express a time between the five minute divisions, you can do so by nearly or just after in the following manner.
Writing time and date
Bus and train