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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.

What is PENG IM? 潮州拼音是乜個? dio7 jiu1 peng1 im1 si7 mik8gai5?

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.

GUIDE TO PENG IM (Diojiu Romanization)

How do we write Diojiu?

Which letters mean what sounds?

What is "Nasal"?

Try these practice sentences

Learn about tones


Changing Tones

Extra resources


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:

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:


Basic Vowels (5): A E I O U
Compound Vowels (12): AI, AO, EU, IA, IO, IU, OI, OU, UA, UAI, UE, UI

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)
E = me5 (night暝), se`1 (last name姓), be`1 (the climb爬)
I = mi1 (rotten), ni6 (milk奶), ki3 (the force气)
O = bho5 (not have无), jo3 (to do作), do6 (at a place在)
U = koo1 (crouch), joo1 (pearl珠), goo1 (turtle龟)

AI = lai5 (come来), mai7 (don’t want勿), sai1 (first先)
AO = lao6 (old老), kao1 (to scratch抠), sao3 (sweep扫)
EU = heu5 (fish雨), keu7 (go去), seu7 (matters事)
IA = kia6 (stand[ ]), sia1 (slanted斜)

IO = sio1 (burn烧), yio7 (urine尿)
IU = liu1 (to slide溜), niu2 (button 纽), giu5 (ball 球)
OI = toi2 (to see 睇), soi7 (small细), hoi 6(crab蟹)
OU = lou2 (hate恼), kou3 (pants裤), sou1 (crispy萃)
UA = tua1 (pull拖), dua7 (big大), jua5 (snake蛇)
UAI = huai1 (bad坏), kuai1 (happy/fast快)
UE = hue1 (flower花), mue5 (congee), bhue7 (not yet未)
UI = kui1 (open开), lui1 (money镭), hui1 (a name 辉)


Consonants (14): B, D, G, H, J, K, L, M, N, P, S, T, W, Y
Compound Consonants (4): BH, CH, GH, NG

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)
BH = bho 无(not have), bhi 米(raw rice)
P = pang 芳(frangrant), peng iu 朋友(friends), poi [ ](to peel fruit)

G = go 歌(song), gua 挂(to wear a watch), ga 敢(dare to)
GH = gho 鹅(swan), ghua 外(outside)

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)
J = jo/joh 做作(to do), joi [ ](many), jai 知(to know)

L = lang 笼(cage), lak 六(six), leu 汝(you)
M = ma 妈(mother), muet 物(to do), mang 网(web)
N = nang 人(people), ni 奶(milk), nou gia` 孥仔(kids)
NG = ngang 凝(cold), nge 硬(stiff), ngou 五(five)

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)
T = to 妥(to beg for), toi 睇(the watch/read), ti` 天(sky)

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
NG = 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)
T = hat 合(to like), sat [ ](to cook), gat 甲(and/with)
K = hak hao 学校(school), sak 蚤(fleas), gak [](throw)


(1) b+bh

bo [ ] (channel), bo mia 报名(register name), bho 无(no), bhou [ ] (wife)

(2) g+gh

go 歌(song), go 膏(cream, paste), gho 鹅(goose), gho 饿 (to starve)

(3) d+t

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)
sap 杀(car break), sat [ ](the boil, cook), sak 蚤(flea)

(5) oi + ue

oi 会(can do something), ue 话(language)
bhoi [ ](isn’t), bhue 未(not yet)
hoi 蟹(crab), hue 花(flower)

(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 to),
sio烧(burn), chio 笑(laugh), gio 叫(to call something)


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)
jeng sek, jing sik 真实(real, true)
chek, chik 七(seven)

(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)
seu, su 事(matters)
deu, du 猪(pig)

(3) “s” + “ch” contrast

For many Diojiu speakers from Vietnam, initial “ch” has morphed into “s”.

chia, sia 车 (car)
chek/chek, sek/sik 七 (seven)
chiang, siang 唱 (sing)



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
be 趴= climb
be` 平= flat
io 腰= waist
io` 羊= sheep

*Don’t confuse tone with nasalization. For more on tones, continue reading.

The following finals are the only ones that can be nasal:

(1) ua`

ua 我(me, I), ua` 碗(bowl)
sua 沙(sand), sua` 山 (mountain)

(2) e`

be 趴(climb or crawl), be` 平(flat)
de 茶(tea), de` [ ] (to squeeze)

(3) a`

da [ ](dry), da` [ ] (speak)
a 拗(to bend), ong a` [ ][ ](baby)

(4) i`

i 伊(he, she, it), i` 圆(round)
si 四死(four, death), si`扇(fan)

(5) oi`

goi 鸡(chicken), goi` 间(measure word for building. Sua`tao dialect only)
koi 溪(river), koi` 盖(cover, lid. Sua`tao dialect only)

(6) ia`

gia 寄(send by mail), gia` 境(mirror)
sia 斜(slanted), sia` 声(sound)

(7) io`

dio 潮(Diojiu), bue gi dio` 飞机场(airport)
gio 桥(bridge), gio` 姜(ginger)

(8) ai`

sai 西west, ai 爱|欲 love
sai` 先 first, ai`嫒 mother



leu gai jeu ga lao lot tou e.
汝个书ga lao 落土下
Your book fell on the floor.
Literal: Your book fell down on floor.

heu gai seu ua mai keu li.
Those matters I don’t care for.
Literal: Those (possessive) matters I do not want go care.

jek, no, sa`, si, gnou, lak, chek, boit, gao, jap
One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten

teng meung, i jo ni diat keu kui hiat kuat?
窗门,伊咋呢着去开hiat 宽?
Why did she have to open the window so wide?
Literal: Window, she why must go open that wide?

i bho biang, diat keu jo gung ying.
She has no choice but to go join the army.
Literal: She not have change, must go be army person.

na si ning mai gat ua keu, ua gagi keu lo.
nasi ning 勿甲我去,我家已去咯。
If ya’ll don’t want to come with me, I’ll go alone.
Literal: If you (plural) do not want with me come, I myself go (then).

i siang hat jiat gao ghuet bhue biang sek gai suai`.
He likes eating mangoes that ripen at the end of September the most.
Literal: He (superlative) like eat nine month end change ripe (possessive) mango.


Tones are related to music. When you say “do re mi fa so la ti do”, the tone rises each word up. In Chinese languages like Diojiu, tones are important in conveying meaning. Mandarin has 4 tones, Cantonese has 6 (sometimes more), Shanghainese 5. Diojiu has 8 tones. If you think that’s a lot, it’s really not. It’s actually easy for intuitive Diojiu speakers.

In representing the tones, the number of each tone comes at the end of a word.

It many help to envision these tones "drawn out" in a diagram. The vertical line is just for reference, while the point of the horizontal line shows tone. Pronounce a word listed next to each tone above and then look at the corresponding tone diagram.

# Name Fig. "do"   "dang"   "huk"   "si"  
1 flat



2 falling


3 low rising


4 low stop


5 high flat


6 rising high


7 low flat
8 high stop

6. TONE SANDHI (Tone Change)

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.

Base Tone => Changed Tone
Base Example
Changed Example
1 => 1
kui1 开 - open
kui1 do1 开刀 - operate
2 => 6
kou2 苦 - bitter
kou6 gue1 苦瓜 - bitter melon
3 => 5
ja3 炸 - to fry
ja5 goi1 炸鸡 - fried chicken
4 => 8
pat4 拍 - to hit
pat8 giu1 拍球 - hit ball
5 => 7
ang5 红 - red
ang7 mo5 红毛- white person
6 => 7
hi`6 耳 - ear
hi`7 be1 耳扒 - ear shovel
7 => 7
pi`7 鼻 - nose
pi`7 sai2 鼻屎 - boogers
8 => 4
iot8 药- medicine
iot4 bang5 药房 - pharmacy

You can also see this easily illustrated in the example of repeated words:

Base Tone => Changed Tone
1 => 1
sung1 sung1 酸酸
2 => 6
do6 do2 短短
3 => 5
yu5 yu3 儒儒
4 => 8
hip8 hip4 僖僖
5 => 7
ma7 ma5 妈妈
6 => 7
nge7 nge6 硬硬
hard, stiff
7 => 7
dua7 dua7 大大
8 => 4
liap4 liap8 粒粒
balls/round objects


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.

Chaoshan 18 Sounds Dictionary
Editor: Yang Yang Fa
Shantou University Press
Copyright 2001
ISBN: 7-81036-134-1
编: 杨扬发
New Edition Diojiu Sounds Dictionary
Editor: Lin Lun Lun
Copyright 1995, 1997, 1999
ISBN: 7-81036-074-4
编:林倫倫 ©1995, 1997, 1999
Chaoshan Dialect Word Explanation
Authors: Li Xin Kui, Lin Lun Lun
Guangdong People’s Press
ISBN: 7-218-00785-6/H.35

Chaoshan New Dictionary
Editor: Guang Tai Book Office
Copyright (reprint): 2001
ISBN: 962-696-009-4
Chaoshan Rhymes Collection 潮汕話韻