The disappearing Fuzhou dialect

Traditional biscuits being handmade from scratch in Yong Peng.

I FIRST heard the Fuzhou dialect when I was posted to Yong Peng in 1978. When my landlady spoke to me in the dialect, I was stunned, stumped and struck dumb by the alien sounds that seemed to come from the digestive juices of her innards. How could such inscrutable sounds be strung together to convey meaning?

To the untutored ear, the Fuzhou dialect sounds like cascading nasal sounds of nga, nge, nyi and nyu. Yong Peng is a town in central Johor and many of the local Chinese are Hockchews or Foochows. They can be identified by surnames such as Diong, Ding, Ling, Ting, Nyeh, Nga, Nguang and Nyeow.

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Opinion , letters , Fuzhou


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