Hokkien skills test

Hokkien skills test

The Hokkien dialect, known as Min Nan Yu, the common Hokkien dialect spoken by native Taiwanese of ancestral Han Fukienese from mostly  Chuanchow (Quanzhou) and Changchow (Zhangzhou), who came to Taiwan in the 1600s to 1800s, is an official language on Taiwan since after 1992.  On Taiwan, the Hokkien dialect is known as “Taiwan hua” or “Taiwanese”.

On August 13, 2016, the ministry of education held its 7th “Min Nan Yu skills certification exam”.  A total of 10, 359 people from five-year-olds to 70-year-olds have applied to take the certification exam.  There is no nationality and citizenship requirement for the applicants.  The exam will test the listening comprehension, speaking fluency, reading and writing of the Hokkien dialect.  The exam involves the use of Romanized Hokkien dialect, not Mandarin Chinese characters even though the dialect is rendered in traditional classical Chinese characters.  The test scores of those who take the exam will be mailed out on October 17, 2016, and those who pass will receive their certificates on October 31, 2016.

The Hokkien dialect is not mutually understandable between its speakers and speakers of Hakka, Fuchow, Swatow, Cantonese, Mandarin, and other Chinese mainland dialects even though it is widely spoken by ethnic southern Chinese on Taiwan, in Indonesia, in the Philippines and other southeast Asia countries.

On the island of Kinmen, Matsu and Penghu, the Fuchow (Fuzhou) dialect is spoken.  Fuchow is the capital city of the province of Fujian (Fukien).  Like Hakka, the Fuchow dialect originated from northern China and is different from “Min Nan hua” or Hokkien which is the dialect of Quanzhou and Zhangzhou in Fukien province.  “Min Nan hua” is also referred to as the “Amoy dialect”.   It is said that the Fuchow dialect is the spoken dialect of northern Han officials who were assigned as governors of the southern territory of Fukien dating back to the early dynasties of the Sui (581-618 A.D.), and the Tang (618-907 A.D.).

Hokkien, Fuchow, Swatow, Hakka, Cantonese, Sayyap, Samyap, Hoysan, Mandarin, are all mutually incomprehensible.


About masterchensays

Victor Chen, herbalist, alternative healthcare lecturer, Chinese affairs analyst, retired journalist
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