Soeinam Language

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Soeinam Language
Head direction
Tonal Yes
Declensions No
Conjugations No
Genders NA
Nouns decline according to...
Case Number
Definiteness Gender
Verbs conjugate according to...
Voice Mood
Person Number
Tense Aspect
Progress 0%
Nouns 0%
Verbs 0%
Adjectives 0%
Syntax 0%
Words of 1500
Creator Estorva

Soeinam language (or Soeinam Chinese, Soeinam, Mandarin: 綏南話, Soeinam: 綏南語 soei1-nam5-ngoe6, IPA: [sœi˥ nam˧˥ ŋœ˨]) is a tonal language derived from Middle Chinese.

Classification and DialectsEdit

Soeinam mainly obtains in South China and is often considered to be close to Cantonese. To be precise, there are more dialects of Soeinam. Any of these dialects is either wester (Soeinam: 西方言 sei1-poeng1-ngian5) or eastern (Soeinam: 東方言 tung1-poeng1-ngian5):

  • Western dialects
    • Angyuan dialect (安遠話)
    • Baizhe dialect (白渚話)
    • Qiutian dialect (丘田話)
  • Eastern dialects
    • Wanle dialect (萬樂話)(Regarded as standard Soeinam)
    • Xinzhai dialect (新宅話)

Among all dialects, the Wanle dialect (Soeinam: 萬樂口 moen7-lak8-khu2) is often refered to as the standard Soeinam. This article is also based on the Wanle dialect.


Initials are consonants in the front of a syllable of a character of Soeinam. There is no consonnt cluster in such language. Soeinam inherited most sounds of Middle Chinese including retroflex and some voiced sounds. Below is the table of consonants of reconstructed Middle Chinese.

Early Middle Chinese Initials
Stops and affricates Nasals Fricatives Approximants
Tenuis Aspirate Voiced Tenuis Voiced
Labials 幫 p 滂 pʰ 並 b 明 m
Dentals 端 t 透 tʰ 定 d 泥 n
Retroflex stops 知 ʈ 徹 ʈʰ 澄 ɖ 娘 ɳ
Lateral 來 l
Dental sibilants 精ts 清 tsʰ 從 dz 心 s 邪 z
Retroflex Sibilants 莊 ʈʂ 初 ʈʂʰ 崇 ɖʐ 生 ʂ 俟 ʐ
Palatals 章 tɕ 昌 tɕʰ 禪 dʑ 日 ɲ 書 ɕ 船 ʑ 以 j
Velars 見 k 溪 kʰ 群 ɡ 疑 ŋ
Guttural 影 ʔ 曉 x 匣 ɣ

Undergoing some inevitable sound changes, such as retroflex stops merge with retroflex sibiliants and some other changes:

  • /ɳ/ merged with /ɲ/. 
  • Voiced stops become implosive.
  • Retroflex stops merge with sibilants.
  • /xu/ or */xw/ becomes /ɸ/.
Soeinam Initials (with romanization)
Stops and affricates Nasals Fricatives Approximants
Tenuis Aspirated Voiced Tenuis Voiced
Labials 幫 p
滂 ph
並 b
明 m
荒 f
Dentals 端 t
透 th
定 d
泥 n
Lateral 來 l
Dental Sibilants 精 ts
清 tsh
心 s
邪 z
Retroflex Sibilants 莊 tsr
初 tsrh
生 sr
俟 zr
Palatals 章 tsj
昌 tsjh
日 nj
書 sj
船 zj
以 j
Velars 見 k
溪 kh
群 g
疑 ng
曉 h
云 x

In fact, palatal sibilants can be regarded as palatalized dental ones since they never appear in syllables whose finals contain medial /j/.


A final of Soeinam contains medial, nucleus, and coda:

  • Medial: the glide before the coda. It can be /j/, /w/, or even zero medial.
  • Nucleus: the body of the final, most significant part of it. There are 7 nuclei available in Soeinam: /ɐ/, /ɛ/, /i/, /u/, /ɔ/, /œ/ (a, e, i, u, o, oe respectively), and a zero nucleus.
  • Coda: the ending of a final. It could be an approximant, a nasal, or a stop. Finals containing medials shall receive no approximant coda.


Zero nucleusEdit

Zero nucleus occurs in Soeinam as well as Taiwanese and Cantonese. Similarily, only some nasals (m and ng) can receive zero nucleus. If we look back into Middle Chinese, we can find out that most words with zero nucleus come from 模, 姥, and 暮 rime (recorded in Guangyung, an ancient book about rimes). Here are some examples:

Rime Word Mandarin Cantonese Soeinam
muo1 mo2 m1
tu2 tou4 do5
u3 ng5 ng6
du4 tou5 to2
u4 ng6 ng7
du4 dou6 do7


Unlike Taiwanese and other Min laguages thought to be derived from Proto-Min prior to Middle Chinese but silimar to Cantonese closer to MC, Soeinam has final stops as well but lacks laryngeal one /ʔ/.

Labial Dental Velar
Non-checked /m/ /n/ /ŋ/
Checked /p̚/ /t̚/ /k̚/

The coda /ʔ/ in Taiwanese vernacular pronunciation of some words corresponds to different codae in Soeinam as well as Cantonese. For instance:

Mandarin Taiwanese Cantonese Soeinam
食 (to eat) shi2 tsiah8 (vern.)
sit8 (lit.)
sik6 zjit8
白 (white) bai2 peh8 (vern.)
pik8 (lit.)
baak6 bak8


Tone SystemEdit


There are at total 8 tones in Soeinam.

Tone Contour 平 Level 上 Rising 去 Departing 入 Entering
陰 Dark 55 35 51 55
陽 Light 21 22 13 33

And their corresponding tone number in romanization:

  • Dark level: 1
  • Dark rising: 2
  • Dark departing: 3
  • Dark entering: 4
  • Light level: 5
  • Light rising: 6
  • Light departing: 7
  • Light entering: 8

There is no such a clear rule that one could know the contour of the tone merely by considering its name. The tone contour has changed since Soeinam was isolated from (Late) Middle Chinese. Here are the comparison of tones, beware that except for level tones there is no distinction between "dark" and "light" in rising and departing tones in Mandarin, and Cantonese has two kinds of dark entering:

Dark Light
Level Rising Departing Entering Level Rising Departing Entering
Mandarin 55 214 51 35 214 51
Soeinam 55 35 51 55 21 22 13 33
Taiwanese 55 51 31 33 24 (22) 33 55
Cantonese 55/53 35 33 55, 33 21 13 22 22

Soeinam has the voicing distinction like Taiwanese and Contonese do. All "dark" tones (whose initials are voiceless) in Soeinam receive high-starting tones (high, high rising, high falling, high), whereas those "light" tones receive low-starting tones (low falling, low, low rising, mid). Mandarin, which has the "simplified" version of tone system, has no such feature.

Tonal SandhiEdit

Tonal sandhi is common among Chinese languages including Taiwanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin as well. However, the degree of sandhi differs. Among all 3 languges mentioned, Taiwanese changes its tone most. Cantonese does not often change the tone of a word and is more unpredictable. In Mandarin, only a word of rising tone would alter its tone when its preceding another one also of rising tone.

Soeinam, nonetheless, do also alter some of its tones under certain circumstances, but not as often as Taiwanese does. Some rules are still explicit:

  1. Within a word, light level tone (21) would become dark rising tone (35) (In western dialects, it would become dark departing tone (51) instead).
  2. Within a word, light rising tone (22) would become light level tone (21).
  3. Within a word, characters with -p, -t, and -k finals would change their "color". That is, dark entering tone would become light one, vice versa.


Word classEdit

A word (or a morpheme since a character itself can be meaningful) can fall into one of these categories:

  • Pronoun
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Adjective
  • Adverb
  • Expletive
  • Interjection
  • Ideophone


Akin to other Chinese languages, (some) words are flexible in Soeinam. Take the word 真佯 tsjin1-jang5 for example:

  • 真佯是人? nji6 jing1-jang5 sa5 njin5 (Are really a human?) as a adverb
  • 你去查彼的真佯nji6 khoe3 tsre5 pie2-ti2 (Go and seek his truth.) as a noun

Word orderEdit

Under most circumstances, Soeinam obey the rule where the arrangement of words is SVO. All subjects (including a noun, pronoun, or a clause) precedes a verb which precedes another noun, pronoun, or clause.

  • 彼的手花。 pie2-ti2 sjoe2 kuk4 hoe1 (His hands are holding flowers.)

In case where a verb receives more than two objects (one of which is indirect), the indirect one follows the direct one.

  • 遺我二輪車。 oe3 ngo6 nji7-loen5-tsje1 (Give me a bicycle.)

Relative clauseEdit

Most clauses ends with the word 的 ti1. Relative clauses can modify both nouns and pronouns, while the clauses usually precedes the former and follows the latter. Usually, relative clauses follow pronouns due to emphasis.

  • 西邊來的人欲食飯。 sei1-pin1 lai5 ti1 njin5 joek8 zjit8 boen6 (People from west wants to eat meal.)
  • 你西邊來的欲食飯? nji6 sei1-pin1 lai5 ti1 joek8 zjit8 boen6 (You from west want to have something?)

Possessive particleEdit

The word 的 can also refer to the possessive case of the word in front of it. But in Soeinam, this particle is occasionally ommitted.

  • 我欲看你(的)書。 ngo6 joek8 khan3 nji6 (ti1) sjoe1 (I want to see your book.)



Soeinam adopted a slightly different method of marking the aspect of a verb. Some expletive characters follow a verb to indicate its aspect, although these expletives may sometimes be regarded as adverbs. Take 我食飯 ngo6-zjik8-boen6 "I eat a meal" for instance:

Soeinam Aspect English Word
我食唁飯。 Perfect I have eat a meal. 唁 jan5
我食正飯。 Progressive I am eating a meal. 正 tsjieng3
我食猶飯。 Frequentive I always eat a meal. 猶 joe5
我食欲飯。 Inceptive, inchaotive I am about to eat a meal. 欲 joek8
我食過飯。 Experiental I ate a meal before. 過 kua3

Some comparisonsEdit

Mandarin Min Cantonese Soeinam (outdated) Soeinam (revised)
/tɕen˥˩/ /kʲan˧˩/ & /kɪ̃˧˩/ /kin˧/ /kʲɛn˥˩/ /kin˥˩/
/fan˥˩/ /pŋ̩˧/ /faːn˨/ /ɓan˩˨/ /ɓœn˩˨/
/tʂou̯˥/ /tɕiu̯˥/ /tsɐu˥/ /tɕiu̯˥/ /tɕœ˥/
sui1 sui1 soei1 soei1 soei1
jiu4 ku7 gau6 ngu7 goe7
bang1 pang1 bong1 pang1 pong1
qi2 ki5 kei4 ki5 gi5
ming4 mia7 ming6 miang7 mieng7
wei2 ui5 wai4 ue5 oei5
xin1 sin1 san1 sin1 sin1


nga6 giat8 soei1-nam5-ngoe5 (I speak Soeinam.)(outdated)

nga6 xoet8 soei1-nam5-ngoe6 (I speak Soeinam)(revised)


nji6 tsjin1-jang5 sik1 soei1-nam5-ngoe5 ke1 (Can you really speak Soeinam?)


kim1-njit8 zjit8 na5 ha3 (What the hell are you gonna eat today?)


tsoen5 m5 tsrie1 ka1 (I have no idea at all.)


tsjang7-moe5 zjit8 boen7 nji5 sang3 tsi1-ka3 din7-sang3 (Finish your food before playing video games!)


xoet8 tsjin1 nji6 poei3 pak4-pin1 lai5 ti1 na5 m5 boep8 nji5 boep8 ka3 mau7-lei6. (Seriously, you notherners have anything but politeness!)


Soeinam Language/Dictionary

But of course, I won't put all of the list there.


Some pages on Wikipedia can be referenced. Here are also some useful resources:

  1. The database of reconstruction of Middle and Old Chinese (also other languages of Modern Chinese)(Chinese)
  2. (Put something useful and in English here)

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