Min Nan

From Academic Kids

Mǐn Nn (also spelt Minnan or Min-nan; Simplified Chinese: 闽南语, Traditional Chinese: 閩南語; native name Bn-lm-g) literally, the "Southern Min" or "Southern Fujian" language, refers to the language/dialect of southern Fujian province, China and neighboring areas, and descendants of emigrants from these areas in diaspora. The Taiwanese language is also a form of Min Nan. It is often known as Hokkien (i.e., "Fujian[ese]") or Teochew (a variant), especially in Southeast Asia.

Min Nan / 闽南语 (Bn-lm-g)
Spoken in: People's Republic of China, Republic of China (Taiwan), Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and other areas of Min Nan and Hoklo settlements around the world
Region: Southern Fujian province; the Chaozhou-Shantou area in Guangdong province; extreme south of Zhejiang province; most of Taiwan; much of Hainan (if Qiong Wen is included); Leizhou Peninsula in Guangdong province
Total speakers: 49 million
Ranking: 21 (if Qiong Wen is included)
Genetic classification: Sino-Tibetan

   Min Nan

Official status
Official language of: none (legislative bills have been proposed to have Taiwanese be a 'national language' in the Republic of China but these are unlikely to pass)
Regulated by: none (ROC Ministry of Education and some NGOs are influential in Taiwan)
Language codes
ISO 639-1zh
ISO 639-2chi (B) / zho (T)
See also: LanguageList of languages

Southern Min and its counterpart Northern Min (Min Bei) can be grouped together as the Min language group. Both are often classified under the Chinese language group, itself part of the Sino-Tibetan language family. However, Min Nan is mutually intelligible with neither Northern Min nor Mandarin, the official Chinese language, spoken (at least as a second language) by the majority of those in mainland China and Taiwan, as well as by large numbers of overseas Chinese throughout the world.

Min Nan is spoken in the southern part of the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian by the Hoklo as well as their descendants who migrated from this province to Taiwan, Guangdong (around Chaozhou-Swatou, and Leizhou peninsula), Hainan, two counties in southern Zhejiang and Zhoushan archipelago offshore Ningbo. There are many Min Nan speakers also among overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. In Taiwan, it also has the native name of Ti-on-oē or Hō-l-oē. In the Philippines, it has the name Ln-lng-oē ("our peoples language") among the Chinese Filipinos, many of whom are descendants of Fujian people or Hoklo.

As with all other varieties of Chinese, there is plenty of dispute as to whether Min Nan is a language or a dialect. Please see here for the issues surrounding this dispute.



There are three main dialects of Min Nan in southern Fujian, corresponding to the areas of:

As Xiamen (Amoy) is the principal city of southern Fujian, its dialect is considered the most important variant.

Outside Fujian, Min Nan exists in these major variants:

The variants spoken in Taiwan, though similar to the three southern Fujian variants, are grouped separately, and collectively known as Taiwanese. Taiwanese bears great importance from a socio-political perspective and is the second (and perhaps today most significant) major pole of the language.

Teochew is of great importance in the Southeast Asian Chinese diaspora, namely Vietnam, Thailand, and Singapore, among others.

Additionally, among the ethnic Chinese inhabitants of Penang, Malaysia, a distinct language form has emerged, Penang Hokkien.


Min Nan retains seven of the eight Middle Chinese tones, namely:

  1. 陰平 Yin-ping |44|
  2. 上聲 Shang-sheng |51|
  3. 陰去 Yin-qu |31|
  4. 陰入 Yin-ru |3|
  5. 陽平 Yang-ping |24|
  6. 陽去 Yang-qu |33|
  7. 陽入 Yang-ru |5|

The numbers given in | | are tone contours (in the Amoy sub-dialect), where 1 is the lowest and 5 is highest. Unlike some Chinese languages, such as Cantonese, all tones in Min Nan are subject to tone sandhi, that is, a given syllables tone changes when it appears in front of another syllable.

Scripts and orthographies

See also

External links


Chinese: spoken varieties

Mandarin | Jin | Wu | Hui | Xiang | Gan | Hakka | Yue | Pinghua | Min
Danzhouhua | Shaozhou Tuhua | Xianghua

Subcategories of Min: Min Dong | Min Bei | Min Zhong | Pu Xian | Min Nan | Qiong Wen | Shao Jiang
Note: The above is only one classification scheme among many.
Comprehensive list of Chinese dialects
Official spoken varieties: Standard Mandarin | Standard Cantonese
Historical phonology: Old Chinese | Middle Chinese | Proto-Min | Proto-Mandarin | Haner
Chinese: written varieties
Official written varieties: Classical Chinese | Vernacular Chinese
Other varieties: Written Cantonese
es:Min del sur

fr:Minnan ko:민난어 id:Bahasa Hokkien zh-min-nan:Bn-lm-g ja:ミン南語 zh:闽南语


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