The use of POJ is not common outside of Taiwan, and there have been numerous attempts to romanize the language. While writing this article, I discovered that there was a Taiwanese linguist who proposed the use of Korean alphabets (Hangeul) to represent the written form of Hokkien, which is incredibly interesting. As someone who is familiar with Hangeul, I find that it may actually work really well because there is a degree of similarity when it comes to pronunciation between Hokkien (in general) and Korean.
Regardless, a main problem in proposing a standard romanization of Hokkien is accounting the variations of the language. Although different dialects of Hokkien are often mutually intelligible, tone and pronunciation variations can cause standardization to be a challenging issue.
However, Hokkien dialects often co-exist and you need not learn a single variant exclusively. For instance, in Taiwan, the Amoy, Quanzhou, and Zhangzhou variants co-exist and many subdialects in different counties lie on the spectrums shared amongst these three major dialects. Whatever the case, acknowledging the different variants of Hokkien may in turn expand your Hokkien knowledge for the better.
POJ may be suitable for use with Amoy and Quanzhou Hokkien, but it may not accommodate other variants of Hokkien very well. This website proposes a variant of romanization with elements similar to POJ. It will be used consistently in this website, and in developing it, I maintained a few considerations:
- For it to be as close as possible to POJ, an existing Hokkien romanization.
- For it to be as close as possible to International Phonetic Alphabets (IPA), a standardized international phonetic notation to represent sounds of a language.
- For it to be as simple as possible, meaning the use of as few characters as possible to represent a sound. For instance, this website proposes the use of ch instead of chh (which is used in POJ).
- For it to be as easily typeable as possible, meaning the characters can be typed on a standard English keyboard without the need to set up another. For instance, this website proposes the use of o: instead of o͘ like in POJ (if the character o͘ is unclear, it is an o with a dot on its top right side)
In the first columns of the tables below are the romanized characters of Hokkien that will be used consistently in this website. I have provided an IPA transcription of the characters, with English approximations of their pronunciations. I have also added a POJ column as a point of comparison of the romanizations. Most importantly, I have audios!
|i||[i]||eerie||īn 'to respond'||i|
|u||[u]||oolong||ut 'to iron'||u|
|o||[o]||own||so 'to rub'||o|
|h||[h]||how||hāu 'filial piety'||h|
|l||[l]||lye||lái 'to come'||l|
|m||[m]||my||māi 'do not want'||m|
|p||[p]||spa||pau 'to wrap'||p|
|ch||[cʰ]||chai||chai 'to guess'||chh|
|kh||[kʰ]||khaki||khai 'to spend'||kh|
|ph||[pʰ]||pie||phai 'to take a photo'||ph|
A syllabic consonant is consonant that can form a syllable on its own.
|ng||[ŋ]||song||sn̄g 'to count'||ng|
This article was last updated on Friday, 3 January 2020, SGT (UTC +8).
Spark A Conversation
Got questions or wanna share some thoughts? Leave them in the comment section below :)
About the Writer
Wanna say hi? Feel free to send me a message here, or leave a comment in this page.