The 'Banana' 2000 Years Ago in Ancient China...

I believe I have seen this email before, but naturally couldn't find it again. Today I saw it floating in my mailbox, and just had to put a post up:-

For those of you who remember the banana discussion I started a while ago (to which I find it interesting--not to mention, condescending--that people consider you a banana if you don't speak Mandarin; apparently, even if you speak other Chinese dialects, unless you can read and write, it doesn't count!), this is an interesting take on the Hokkien dialect:-

Here, I produce the email in it's entirety:-

"Ancient Imperial Language of China - 2,000 Years Ago.

If you're a HOKKIEN Take Note !!

Ancient Imperial Language of China – 2,000 Years Ago

How Did it Sound Like? (Mind you, it's no way similar to Mandarin)
Has this Ancient Language Survived?
Who Speaks it Today?

You'll be Surprised. You have heard it. You, your parents, or grandparents may still be speaking this ancient, archaic language!

Yes, it's HOKKIEN (Fujian/Minnan Hua)

Hokkien is:

1. The surviving language of the Tang Dynasty (618-907AD), China 's Golden Age of Culture.

Note: The Hokkien we hear today may have "evolved" from its original form 2,000 years ago, but it still retains the main elements of the Tang Dynasty Language.

2. Hokkiens are the surviving descendants of the Tang Dynasty -- When the Tang Dynasty collapsed, the people of the Tang Dynasty fled South and sought refuge in the Hokkien ( Fujian ) province. Hence, Hokkien called themselves Tng-lang (Tang Ren or People of the Tang Dynasty) instead of Hua Lang (Hua Ren).

3. Hokkien has 8 tones instead of Mandarin's 4. Linguists claim that ancient languages tend to have more complex tones.

4. Hokkien retains the ancient Chinese pronunciation of "K-sounding" endings (for in stance, Hak Seng (student), Tua Ok (university), Thak Chek (read a book/study) -- the "k" sounding ending is not found in Mandarin.

5. The collection of the famous "Three Hundred Tang Dynasty Poems" sound better when recited in Hokkien/Teochew if compared to Mandarin.

6. Consider this for a moment: Today, the Hokkien Nam Yim Ochestral performance still has its roots in ancient Tang dynasty music. Here's the proof: The formation of today Nam Yim ensemble is typically seen in ancient Tang dynasty paintings of musicians.

More Astonishingly:

Although not genetically-related, Hokkiens, Koreans and Japanese share many similar words (which are different from Mandarin).

That's because Hokkien was the official language of the powerful Tang Dynasty whose influence and language spread to Japan and Korea (just like Latin – where many words were borrowed by the English, French, Italian, etc). Here are just a few words in Hokkien, Korean and Japanese for your comparison (Daphne's Note: If something is missing, it's the Japanese word):

*Daphne's Note: Words are presented in this order of :-


H: Sin Boon (news)
K: Sin Mun
J: Shinbun - newspaper

H: Cheng Hu (government)
K: Chong Bu

Pang (room)

Chhia (car/vehicle)

Mui/M'ng (door)

P'hio (ticket)

Eng Wan (eternal)
Yong Won

Chaek (book)

Ki (flag)

Kang river)

Poh Hiam (insurance)
Poh Ham

Sio Sim (caution)
Cho sim

Mo Kui (demon)
Ma gui

Cham (attend/join/mix)
Ch'am sok

Kantan (simple)
Gan Dan

Sin Sei Kai (new world)
Shin Sae Gae

Kok Ka (nation)
Kuk Kka

Hya (elder brother)

Choon Pi (prepare)
Jun Bi

Si Kan (time)
Si Kan

Kam tong (emotion, feeling)
Kam Jong

Kamsia (gratitude, thanks)
Kam Sa

Keat Hoon (marriage)
Kyol Hon

Oon Tong (exercise)
Un Dong

Tua Ok (university)
Tae Hak

Aun Chuan (safety)
An Jon
An Zen

Mua Chiok(satisfaction)
Man Jok

Ai Lang (lover)
Ae In

Seng Kong (success)
Song Kong

Chhiu Sat (suicide)
Cha sal

Pu Do (grapes)
P'o d'o

Chin Por (progress)
Chin bo

To all 49 Million Hokkien Speakers:

Be Proud of Your Ancient Hokkien Heritage & Language! Speak it Loud and Clear. Teach Your Future Generation this Imperial Language, Less it Fades Away. Be Proud Children of the Tang Emperors.

To all Mandarin-speaking friends out there -- do not look down on your other Chinese friends who do not speak Mandarin – whom you guys fondly refer to as "Bananas". In fact, they are speaking a language which is much more ancient & linguistically complicated than Mandarin.

Keep in mind that Mandarin is just:

1. A Northern Chinese dialect (heavily influenced by non Han Chinese) that was elevated to the status of National Language by Sun Yat Sen for the sake of China’s national unity.

2. Mandarin was never spoken by your proud, imperial Tang Dynasty ancestors. It was probably spoken by the Northern (Non-Han) Jurchen, Mongols and Manchu minority. Start speaking the language of your ancestors today."

Hmmm...I wonder how true this is (Can anybody clarify?)...

It was obviously written by someone who knows their history better than I do, and who has obviously been called a banana by his/her Mandarin-speaking friends...

Because if it is, there is all the more reason why people should not make fun of Chinese people who can't speak Mandarin--besides the fact that no dialect/language is superior or people more superior just because they speak/read/write it. Because derogatory terms have no place in society if we decide they don't have a place.


WP said…
Yay, Hokkien rules! :P

Oh, and I just saw your reply to my comment in that old "banana" post. Next time when people speak to me in Mandarin, I will say "wo jiang fu jian hua"...if I think of it in time. lol

I'm gonna have to share this e-mail too ^_^
Anonymous said…
Daphne Sio Chia ah,

Peng siong si, gua thak lang eh blog, si chin-nya chio sia komen eh. Oo sia pun, si iong eng-boon lai sia eh. Tapi lu che leh post eh article lai bin, kong ka lang lang eh hokkien oua, ah nyeh khuan high kelas ci koay, so gua ci chun, ai iong lang lang eh hokkien oua, lai sia che leh komen.

Lu ah si ai cai ka cheh, lang lang hokkien lang eh lek-su, eh sai thak che leh ka che leh. Tapi chi noh leh ooi eh lang kong eh mi kia, tai hok chak. Hokkien lang eh lek-su sit chai pun si chin hok chak. Lu ah si ai chai ka kan-tan eh leh, eh sai thak che leh la.

Lu che leh blog si oh, sia liau chin-nya hoh. Lu ah nyeh siau lian nya, ko ah nyeh gau sia liau, gua khua lu pun si che leh lang-chai lai. Tha-na eh sia-hoay, chin thang koh chui tio siau-lian-kay siang ka lu ah ni khuan eh.

Ti chi peng, gua ai ka lu kong tam po mi kia. Siau-lian-kay em mai knia pa lang kong lang eh. Lang ai ka ki cai ka ki. Lang ah si cai ka ki, bo kuan lang kong lang si hami pun ho (khin chio ah si ho, due lian ah si ho, ping ko ah si ho, olen ah si ho) lang ah si cai ka ki, lang eh khia cai cai. Lau sit kong, khin chio pun si beh pai chiak pun ma. Ka ho koay kho-kua. Ang mo lang pun oo kong, lang ah si chio, seh-kai toi lang chio; lang ah si hau, lang ka ki hau. So i-lang ah si ai kong lang khin chio, beh yau kin, lang ka i-lang cho-siau cho-siau, ku lai ko beh-ki liau. Tapi i-lang ah si koay-hoon lai kong leh, aiya, lu ma si blog ho i-lang hau lo.

Hi bang lu em tang theng che leh blog, tapi eh ti ti chiap lok ki sia. Hor pa leh siau-lian-kay thak, toi i-lang oo li-aik eh. Liau lu ah si oo kam ka lang lang eh hokkien oua oo ah nyeh high kelas leh, oo si lu eh sai sia tam po Hokkien eh posting, pun si ho eh. Liau hi bang lu eh sin tay ho ho, sim tiam tiam hua hua hi hi, lang tiam tiam peng peng aun aun.

Ma-lai-seh-ah Hokkien Lang

PS: My apologies to all the non Hokkien readers of this blog. Don't worry, you missed nothing important. Basically just follow the links provided above if you want to know more about the history of the Hokkien people. Don't worry, they are mostly in English. Cheers.
vagus said…
i was amused to hear that there is a caucasian version of the banana, incidentally. the egg; white on the outside, yellow on the inside.
Daphne Ling said…
Hi WP,

If you say that, they won't believe that you can't speak Mandarin (if you don't lar)...

Daphne Ling said…
Hi Anon 02:32,

Thanks for your input and letting me know you read my blog (and thanks for saying I write well, lol).

I'm sure the readers who understood it will find it enlightening and interesting as well.
Daphne Ling said…
Hi Vagus,

I never heard of that version, but I'm kinda thinking that is derogatory too? I'm not familiar so, I can't say more than that?