Friday, February 4, 2011

Kaiping Dialect Character Dictionary

Given how few people in the world speak Taishanese, I was pleasantly surprised to find a number of dictionaries and word lists had already been compiled. I was even more surprised to find a dictionary based on the speech as spoken in my grandmother’s hometown district, Chikan 赤坎, in Kaiping. The linguist Deng Jun 鄧鈞, a Kaiping native, published this Kaiping Dialect Character Dictionary 開平方音字典 in 2003.

This dictionary provides a straightforward romanization scheme, and is organized with an eye to how the speech of Kaiping is currently used and understood. I may not have borrowed many of Deng’s romanization conventions, but the thought and structure behind his organization has influenced me greatly. His dictionary has been comfortably natural to use, while also enjoyably illuminating.

Since this dictionary very closely matches the speech of my own family, I will be retranscribing each lesson for myself with the pronunciation listed in the dictionary. If I can manage, I’ll also post these pieces on line.

For those who are interested (of whom I’m sure there are many), there is also a dictionary based on the speech of Taishan. I haven’t been able to get my hands on a copy; I was too tired to look for it the last time I was in Taishan. The dictionary is based on the pronunciation of Taishan City 台城, or so I’m told. If you have a copy or know where to find one, please drop me a comment!


  1. The Taishan dictionary that I have looks exactly the same as what you have above, from the same publisher. The name is Taishan Fangyin Zidian 台山方音字典. The ISBN is 7-5355-4807-5. I think I bought it in 台城 but I don't remember.

    I know when I was there I stopped at every book, CD, and DVD store to ask for audio materials (of any type) in 台山話, and they all acted like they had never heard of such a possibility before.

  2. Wow, that’s great! Where/how were you able to get your hands on this book?