The majority of Hokkien vocabulary is monosyllabic. Many Hokkien words have cognates in other Chinese languages. That said, there are also many indigenous words that are unique to Hokkien and are not potentially of Sino-Tibetan origin, while others are shared by all the Min languages (e.g. 'congee' is 糜 mê, bôe, bê, not 粥 zhōu, as in other dialects).
As compared to Standard Chinese (Mandarin), Hokkien dialects prefer the usage the monosyllabic form of words, without suffixes. For instance, the Mandarin noun suffix 子 (zi) is not found in Hokkien words, while another noun suffix, 仔 (á) is used in many nouns. Examples are below:
- 'duck' - 鸭 ah or 鴨仔 ah-á (SC: 鸭子 yāzi)
- 'color' - 色 sek (SC: 顏色 yán sè)
In other bisyllabic morphemes, the syllables are inverted, as compared to Standard Chinese. Examples include the following:
- 'guest' - 人客 lâng-kheh (SC: 客人 kèrén)
- 'to like' - 歡喜 hoaⁿ-hí (SC: 喜歡 xǐhuan)
In other cases, the same word can have different meanings in Hokkien and standard written Chinese. Similarly, depending on the region Hokkien is spoken in, loanwords from local languages (Malay, Tagalog, Burmese, among others), as well as other Chinese dialects (such as Southern Chinese dialects like Cantonese and Teochew), are commonly integrated into the vocabulary of Hokkien dialects.
Read more about this topic: Hokkien
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