Diojiu belongs to the Minnan (Southern Min) group of Chinese languages which is in turn part of the Sino-Tibetan Family. Diojiu is closely related to Hokkien (aka Taiwanese) which is also part of the Minnan group, and with which it has some mutual intelligibility. This is contrasted with Mandarin and Cantonese which are entirely different languages and are not mutually intelligible. Diojiu has a lexicon and grammar that differs a good deal from Mandarin. Some of Diojiu’s features include, 8 tones, tone sandhi (tones change for words in succession) and nasalized vowels. There are an estimated 20 million speakers all over the world, though mostly concentrated in China and Southeast Asia.
Peng Im is a romanization system used to write Diojiu in "Roman" letters. Traditionally Diojiu is written in Chinese characters. It was decided to use Peng Im rather than characters to facilitate learning among young Diojiu people whose most proficient language is often English (The United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Hong Kong, etc.). The Peng Im on this website is slightly modified from the official romanization system of China/Guangdong Province. In most cases however, they are almost identical. Variances will be noted below.
Romanization simply means using English letters to write Diojiu. The Diojiu word for "Romanization" is Peng Im. Diojiu Romanization is based on features of the following: Mandarin pinyin, the English language, certain IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) standards. Most letters used in Diojiu make the same sounds as in English. Some however, are a little different. Below is a FULL explanation of all the sounds used in Diojiu. It is suggested you use this explanation as a reference whenever writing in Diojiu Romanization.
ABOUT STANDARDS AND DIALECTS: This guide has been scrupulously checked and reviewed. Informal research was undertaken to set up standards for Peng Im. Diojiu, like any language, has many dialects. Some of the words native speakers of Diojiu are used to saying may not match up exactly with the following Romanization system. This is due to the fact of that there are regional forms of Diojiu, and as like with any language, changes may occur. If you have additions, corrections or alterations that you would like to suggest, feel free to contact the author of this guide: email@example.com
NOTE: Characters with no standard representation are shown with a [ ]. There is no problem with your language viewer.
The key to understanding Romanization is that each letter stands for one particular sound. In English, a letter can stand for many sounds, often not making much sense, for example: The vowel sound in "bear", "lair", "care" are all the same, despite the fact that they are all spelled with different vowels. Also, the "a" in "cat", is definitely not the same sound as the "a" in "far", or "share". Strange no? In Diojiu all vowels and consonants stand for one sound and one sound only. Just remember this: IF IT RHYMES, THEN IT SHOULD BE SPELLED SIMILARLY. By this I mean: ai (to want), mai (don't want), lai (come), pai (naughty), hai (the ocean), all rhyme with each other, so therefore they all use the "ai" ending.
Letters used in Diojiu Romanization:
THE VOWEL SOUNDS
Basic Vowels (5): A E I O U
In all, there are about 18 distinct vowel sounds that you can make in Diojiu, but since there are only (5) vowels in the English language, we put the individual vowels together to show the rest. Below are examples of all the vowel sounds. The logic of the compound vowels is that they are the product of blending two individual vowels together: for example: A + I = AI ; I + U = IU
A= ka1 (foot脚), ma1 (mother妈), sa`1 (shirt衫)
AI = lai5 (come来), mai7 (don’t want勿),
IO = sio1 (burn烧), yio7 (urine尿)
THE CONSONANT SOUNDS
Consonants (14): B, D, G, H, J, K, L,
M, N, P, S, T, W, Y
As for the Consonants, all of the single consonants should be easy for an English speaker to pronounce, but examples of all sounds will be provided. Compound consonants express consonant sounds that normally do not appear in English. In total there are 18 “Consonant sounds” .
Examples (have been grouped together by similar sounds)
B = gip bo [ ][ ](toad), bot 薄(thin of
objects), ba 爸(father)
G = go 歌(song), gua 挂(to wear a watch),
ga 敢(dare to)
K = ka 脚(foot), keu 去(go), ki 气(the force)
H = hot [ ](quite), he 虾(shrimp), hoi 蟹(crab)
CH = cho [ ](to carry in), chai 菜(veggies/a
dish), che 查(to check)
L = lang 笼(cage), lak 六(six), leu 汝(you)
S = sai` 先(first), sang 松(loose), sim 心(heart)
D = do 短(short), doi 底(inside), da` ue
呾话(to say or speak)
Y = yiang 让(yell), yik 日(day), yeu (erase)
You’ll see the above consonants at the beginning of words. There a few consonants that you will see at the end. They are:
M = same as above
The following endings end in a clipped sound. Like starting the sound but abruptly stopping it. See examples:
P = ap 盒(box), sap 杀(break), gap bao 甲包(wallet/purse)
bo [ ] (channel), bo mia 报名(register name), bho 无(no), bhou [ ] (wife)
go 歌(song), go 膏(cream, paste), gho 鹅(goose), gho 饿 (to starve)
do 刀(knife), do 短(short), to 妥(to beg), to 桃(peach)
(4) p+t+k (end of word)
ap 盒(box), at 鸭(duck), ak 恶(evil)
(5) oi + ue
oi 会(can do something), ue 话(language)
(6) eu + u
seu 事(matters), keu 去(go), su1 輸(lose), ku1 跍(crouch)
(7) ia + io
sia 写(write), chia 车(car), gia 加(to add
In the Dio Sua` region you’ll find that Diojiu is quite diverse, with many different local accents depending where you go. For example, Pouleng is known as having the famous “u” sound, where one would find the “eu” sound in most other Dio Sua` regions. Diojiu people abroad have also developed their own local ways of speaking that are often mixed with other languages. Malaysian Diojiu is probably the most divergent, often borrowing from Hokkien and Malay.
(1) i + e ( “e” and “i” are interchangeable in these circumstances)
The “e” instead of “i” sound is a trait of Gek Ia` Diojiu (接阳). Most other Dio Sua` regions use the “i”.
dek dek, dik dik 直直(straight)
(2) eu, u. The “eu” variety is standard.
The “u” variety comes from Pouleng (普龙). This points to a connection to some Hokkien dialects which use the “u” varieties as well.
leu, lu 汝(you)
(3) “s” + “ch” contrast
For many Diojiu speakers from Vietnam, initial “ch” has morphed into “s”.
chia, sia 车 (car)
Diojiu is a nasal language. Some of its vowels are nasal. This means that you pronounce things with an emphasis on the air flowing through your nose. A “backwards apostrophe” located on your keyboard on the same key as the “tilda~” will be what we use to represent “nasalization”. It will be placed at the end of a word that is nasal.
i` [ ]= sleep
*Don’t confuse tone with nasalization. For more on tones, continue reading.
The following finals are the only ones that can be nasal:
ua 我(me, I), ua` 碗(bowl)
be 趴(climb or crawl), be` 平(flat)
da [ ](dry), da` [ ] (speak)
i 伊(he, she, it), i` 圆(round)
goi 鸡(chicken), goi` 间(measure word for
building. Sua`tao dialect only)
gia 寄(send by mail), gia` 境(mirror)
dio 潮(Diojiu), bue gi dio` 飞机场(airport)
sai 西west, ai 爱|欲 love
PRACTICE: SAMPLE READINGS
In Diojiu, tones of one word often change when they are followed by any other word. For example "dang 6" means heavy. If you say the phrase "dang si" (heavy to death), dang changes to tone 7. Original tones "1" and "7" never change.
You can also see this easily illustrated in the example of repeated words:
As with Diojiu multimedia, Diojiu learning resources are hard to come by. Below you’ll find a good listing of some of the resources that you can use to begin or advance your studies in of the Diojiu language.