The University of Nottingham Ningbo China


Minnanese is a language spoken in southern Fujian, also known as Taiwanese or Hokkien. Today, Minnanese is the most popular speaking Chinese dialect in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan and southern Fujian. Originally, Minnanese speaking people came from south Fujian province in China. The earliest Chinese settlers in Southeast Asia bought the language to all around Southeast Asia. For years, no matter ethnic background, people have used Minnanese as trading language in many parts of Southeast Asia.

Minnanese is also spoken three southeastern counties of Zhejiang province, the Zhoushan archipelago off Ningbo in Zhejiang, and the eastern part of Guangdong province (Chaoshan region). Hainanese spoken in the Leizhou peninsula of Guangdong province, as well as Hainan province, which is not mutually intelligible with standard Minnan or Teochew, is classified in some schemes as part of Minnanese and in other schemes as separate.

There are many Minnanese speakers also among overseas Chinese communities in Southeast Asia. Many ethnic Chinese emigrants to the region were people from southern Fujian, and brought the language to what is now Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. In general, Minnanese from southern Fujian is known as Hokkien, Hokkienese, Fukien or Fookien in Southeast Asia, and is very much like Taiwanese. Many Southeast Asian ethnic Chinese also originated in the Chaoshan region of Guangdong province and speak Teochew, the variant of Minnanese from that region. Minnanese is reportedly the native language of up to 98.5% of the community of ethnic Chinese in the Philippines. Minnanese speakers form the majority of Chinese in Singapore.

Learn more about Chinese history, people and languages, please visit Why Study Abroad in China

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