Ma Yihang, PhD candidate, Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, National Taiwan University
Southern Hokkein: An Introduction (2014) is the most complete and in-depth English-language Taiwanese (Southern Hokkien) textbook published to date. Compiled by Professor Bernhard Fuehrer of the University of London School of Oriental and African Studies and Professor Yang Xiufang, jointly employed at National Taiwan University’s Department of Chinese and the university’s Graduate Institute of Taiwan Literature, the book is written for students of Taiwanese who already have a solid grasp of Mandarin.
The study materials comprise three volumes, a total of twelve units. The first and second units illustrate the principles of Taiwanese (Holo) pronunciation and grammar. Beginning with unit three, each lesson is based on one or more sections of Taiwanese dialogue. The main character is “Fred,” or “A-Tek,” an English exchange student, who finds himself in various true-to-life situations during his stay in Taiwan – first meetings and introductions, strolling through a night market, shopping at a vegetable market, visiting a friend’s house, getting sick and seeing a doctor, drawing for prizes at a year-end party. The twelfth unit includes two classic Taiwanese songs, “Night Flower in the Rain,” and “Who Knows What’s in the Heart.” The dialogues present everyday scenarios (as opposed to “classroom situations”) in colloquial language, teaching Taiwanese as it’s actually used on the street and in homes. The text also includes common Taiwanese sayings and proverbs, as well as cultural tips, delving deeply into actual language situations through the use of everyday speech. Thus, students not only learn vocabulary, pronunciation, sentence structure, and grammar rules, but also gain an understanding of Taiwanese cultural traditions, customs, and beliefs.
The course content was designed to meet practical needs. For example, each Taiwanese sentence is written in Chinese characters; if the Chinese character for a particular Taiwanese word is unknown, a synonymous character is used, rather than substituting a character with a reading similar to that of the Taiwanese vocabulary item. To students with a background in Mandarin, modern Chinese synonyms are helpful in conveying the meanings of Taiwanese words and phrases, reflecting the language’s relation to both ancient Chinese and modern Mandarin. To complement the above features, Yang Xiukui has written a detailed guide to tone sandhi, and explanations for grammar and vocabulary, enabling students to achieve a deeper understanding of the language’s content and structure. Southern Hokkien: An Introduction is both professional and practical – well suited for teaching Taiwanese to foreign students, the texts also provide a path for Taiwanese seeking to gain a better understanding of their own language.
|Related Literary Themes：||Vernacular Poetry: Holo and Hakka|