Saturday, December 31, 2011

Here’s to a New Year of Taishanese!

Happy New Year! Or as you might say in Taishanese:

Lhen Nïn Fai Lòk

The bulk of last year’s blogging covered the Taishanese Basic Course with the addition of my own commentary. This blog also helped me accomplish some personal goals, among them being proficiency in the Cangjie input method, my first YouTube video and, most importantly, a constant connection with the Taishanese language. Much of this would have been impossible without the invaluable contribution of my readers, most notably Ben, Dominic and Stephen. Thank you so much.

Below I’ve pulled together a list of the lessons I covered in 2011. These lessons comprise the first volume of the Basic Course.

I’m going to take a break from posting more lessons for a few months. For this new year, I have some new and shiny goals, but first I have to wrap up some other projects and also figure out which goals are realistically achievable. The goals include an online searchable dictionary, more videos, interviews and profiles of Taishanese speakers, more structured lesson formats, and perhaps even a little interactive learning software. If you’d like to help out with some of this, let me know!

As always, if you have any questions, suggestions or corrections, please don’t hesitate to share your thoughts.


  1. Happy New Year! I just came across your blog while facebooking and want to thank you for putting these lessons up and adding in your commentaries.

    I too have noticed that the DLI dialogue is rather different. To my ears, it sounds as if their variety has a bit of "Standard Cantonese" influence. One thing in particular is that 'to give' for them is 'bei', and I pretty much exclusively hear either 'ei' or 'i'.


    1. Hi Gary, I felt the same way just going through the vocab list in the various lessons. Some of the variants seemed very standard Cantonese.

      I also wonder if Hoisan Wa isn't difficult to codify because my mother, born 1910, said to me that people 2 villages over could speak a little differently. e.g. gau or gew for dog.

  2. Thanks for your comment, Gary! I’m sorry for my much-delayed reply. Some varieties of Taishanese (such as my family’s) have ei where others say i, such as in 美, which may be pronounced either as or mēi. It’s hard to prove one way or another that this is “Cantonese influence”—there’s even an analysis which suggests that the ei variety is in fact older than a “Cantonese influence” theory might suggest. The DLI Basic Course chooses the i variety as its standard (you can see references to this in lesson nine), although as you’ve surely noticed, the people who actually recorded the dialogue seem to be speakers of the ei variety. I have no idea why this is the case. I’m glad you’re enjoying these lessons, and hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to post more this year!

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    2. I also notice the difference between saying "give" which was always "ei" in my family. But my grandmother and aunt always said "i". When I asked my father about this, he said that my grandmother and aunt were from the "Yee family village". So it makes a big difference which village you are from.