Fuzhou Dialect Resources

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness. -- 2 Timothy 3:16

Learn a Foochow Idiom a Day book

活嚟若伓樂, 死嚟硬核核.
Uăk lā̤ nâ ng lŏk, sī lā̤ ngâing-kŏk-kŏk.
If you don’t enjoy life, your body will be hard when you die.

To assist you in learning Fuzhou dialect, I list all available resources in this page. Some of them are copyright free but are nevertheless too large for upload and download. Please write to me at gnudoyngATgmailDOTcom if you want a copy of them.


Edited by 冯爱珍
江苏教育出版社, 1998
ISBN: 7-5343-3421-7
Price: ¥45.60

Fuzhou Dialect Dictionary is amongst a large dictionary series called Great Dictionaries of Contemporary Chinese Dialects (现代汉语方言大词典). I list it as the first of all Foochowese dictionaries because, a few years ago (around 2003), it was this book that ushered me into the joyful study of my mother tongue. In the preface, the editress Hùng Ái-dĭng (冯爱珍) presents in a very scientific way the linguistic system of Fuzhou dialect: its history, regional varients, initial consonants, rimes, tones, sandhi, etc. Of course, the most valuable part is the vocabulary, which covers nearly all daily used words and phrases. For each entry, both Chinese characters and its IPA pronunciation are given. (View the sample page.)

Dictionary of the Foochow Dialect, 3rd Edition
Edited by R. S. Maclay, C. C. Baldwin & S. H. Leger, 1929

The Dictionary of the Foochow Dialect was one of the many great works by the Western missionaries in Fuzhou. It was originally published in 1870, and the 2nd and 3rd editions were republished in 1897 and 1929. This one as shown in the picture is the 3rd edition. Just a glance at its volume will suffice to convince you that Fuzhou dialect is much more than a spoken vernacular. Even entries like “Mediterranean” can be found in it. And I firmly believe that this Dictionary would have continued to be revised and enlarged by successive missionaries if the communists’ takeover of Mainland China had never taken place. (View the sample page.)

As the fruit that came from the Church, the Dictionary uses a Romanized script called Foochow Romanized, a Romanization system based on the local famous rhyme book titled The Book of Eight Tones (戚林八音). For more information about Foochow Romanized please refer to its entry in Wikipedia.

In China, so far as I know, this book has long been out of stock and is only available in some major libraries. But I do have a PDF copy to share (the copyright has expired of course), which is nearly 300MB in size. If you need it, just send me an email gnudoyngATgmailDOTcom. Also, you can download a compilation of its prefaces and introduction for your interest.

圣经新旧约全书:福州土腔 / Foochow Colloquial Bible
British and Foreign Bible Society, 1909

Wow, what a tremendous and daunting task it is to translate the Holy Bible into a completely new language! But filled with the Holy Spirit, the Western missionaries made it. Foochow Bible is written entirely in Foochow Romanized and not a single Chinese character is found in it. It was by studying this Bible that I eventually mastered Foochow Romanized, a writing system said to be more difficult than that of the Vietnamese. Very few copies of the Foochow Bible survived the Cultural Revolution. But fortunately enough, the whole book has been digitized and made available in the Internet by the Cornell University (Old Testament, New Testament). I also have a PDF copy which is 308MB in size, so send me an email gnudoyngATgmailDOTcom if you need it.

Foochow Bible also has a version in Chinese characters, though I’ve never seen the whole book but only a few scanned pages. You can download the pamphlet of Genesis 1 - 3 which is written in both Chinese characters and Foochow Romanized. Well, I strongly recommend that you read throught the Foochow Bible, which will undoubtedly convince you that all languages are equal before God.

I personally own a printed book of the Foochow Romanzed Old Testament which was kindly provided by my friend Wayne Manahan from California.

An Alphabetic Dictionary of the Chinese Language in the Foochow Dialect
by R. S. Maclay & C. C. Baldwin
Foochow: Methodist Episcopal Mission Press, 1870

This book is the first edition of the Dictionary of the Foochow Dialect, each basic entry of it being a single character instead of a phrase. The two authors, Robert Samuel Maclay (麦利和 / Măh Lé-huò) of the American Methodist Episcopal Mission and Caleb Cook Baldwin (摩嘉立 / Mò̤ Gă-lĭk) of the American Board Mission, were the founding fathers of the Protestant Missions in Foochow. Interestingly, the dictionary starts with an ancient Chinese proverb taken from I Ching (易经) which goes as: 上古结绳而治, 后世圣人易之以书契. (In the beginning knots were used as recording devices, but later wise men changed that and invented the writing system.) Send me an email if you need an e-book. (View the sample page.)

榕腔初学撮要 / A Manual of the Foochow Dialect
by C. C. Baldwin
Foochow: Methodist Episcopal Mission Press, 1871

This book, by nature, is much more than a manual; it is a milestone, a vivid recording of the language, unmatched even compared to contemporary linguistic studies. It includes the a large quantity of vocabulary and phrases that covers every aspect of the 19th-century Foochow life. (View the sample page.)

An English-Chinese Dictionary of the Foochow Dialect
Edited by T. B. Adam, 1905

As a complement to the famous Dictionary of the Foochow Dialect, this English-Foochow Dictionary is also an indispensable reference book which is especially helpful to English-speaking learners. And like Foochow Bible, it contains no Chinese characters but only Foochow Romanized. From a careful examination of words and phrases used in this handbook, we can draw the conclusion that Fuzhou dialect still remains much the same as it was one century ago.

Edited by 北原癸巳男
株式會社竹腰商店, 台北·昭和十五年 (1940)

During the World War II, even Japanese scholars became passionate about studying Fuzhou dialect, which they believed to be significant for their cause of Seisen (Holy War). This book, Japo-Chinese Translation - Fuzhou Dialect, is without doubt the most brilliant work among its contemporary counterparts. What’s special about it is the katakana used to represent the Foochowese pronunciation - or we can simply name it Foochow kana, a set of phonograms totally different from Foochow Romanized. However, to make the most of this book you absolutely need a thorough understanding of it.

In my website you can download the first few pages of this book. The whole book (PDF version) is 71MB large, so please send me an email gnudoyngATgmailDOTcom if you want it.

Edited by 李如龙, 梁玉璋, 邹光椿 & 陈泽平
福建人民出版社, 1994
ISBN: 7-211-02354-6
Price: ¥29.00

This dictionary is also titled Fuzhou Dialect Dictionary, so let’s just call it Lī’s Dictionary, in contrast to Hùng’s Dictionary I previously mentioned. Its lexicographers, Lī Ṳ̀-lṳ̀ng (李如龙), Liòng Ngṳ̆k-ciŏng (梁玉璋) and Dìng Dĕk-bìng (陈泽平), are all celebrated scholars of Fuzhou dialect. Unlike Hùng’s Dictionary, which exclusively uses IPA to represent sounds, Lī’s Dictionary also introduces a new Romanized system that is very similar to Hanyu Pinyin,with the intention to minimize the difficulty for a modern Chinese reader. Another feature worth noting is that the arrangement of the characters and phrases is strictly alphabetic, the same as that in the Xinhua Dictionary (新华字典), but I personally don’t think such “user-friendliness” will help a Foochowese learner acquire a systematic knowledge of its phonology. However, Lī’s Dictionary, though smaller in volume, does include many entries that are not found in Hùng’s Dictionary. (View the sample page.)

Edited by 赵日和
福州市艺术创作研究所, 1998
Price: ¥28.00

Fuzhou Dialect Phonology Dictionary is not a dictionary actually, but a phonology book listing nearly all Chinese characters and their IPA in Fuzhou dialect. But don’t underestimate its value, it is in fact one of my most frequently used reference books: when I want to look up a character for its pronunciation, this dictionary always provides a better shortcut. (View the sample page.)

Edited by 李如龙 & 梁玉璋
海风出版社, 2001
ISBN: 7-80597-361-X/K·18
Price: ¥32.00

As another book by the great scholars Lī Ṳ̀-lṳ̀ng (李如龙) and Liòng Ngṳ̆k-ciŏng (梁玉璋), Records of Fuzhou Dialect is a comprehensive language records that embraces nearly all linguistic and cultural aspects: phonology, vocabulary, grammar, and literature. Read through this book and you will certainly get a general idea of Fuzhou dialect, an archaic but vivid language full of seemingly irregular changes. (View the sample page.)

Edited by 陈泽平
上海远东出版社 & 上海三联书店, 2003
ISBN: 7-80661-798-1
Price: ¥19.80

New Explorations in Min Language is a collection of Dìng Dĕk-bìng (陈泽平)’s linguistic dissertations. Though its title bears the term “Min Language”, this book is in fact specifically about Fuzhou dialect. Every single article in it is indeed enlightening (so enlightening that it actually helped me decode the Foochow Romanized), and the book, as a whole, is heuristic for anyone who wishes to probe into the profundity of this language. (View the sample page.)

Foochow-English English-Foochow Glossary
Edited by Leo Chen & Jerry Norman
Asian Language Publication, 1969

Can’t tell much about this book since it is still in my wanted list. As far as I know, the only place in China where it is available is the Library of Peking University. A friend of mine sent me some photocopies and I examined them carefully. What I know for sure is that this dictionary uses a very unique Romanized system, which looks perhaps more alien than the Church Foochow Romanized to a modern Chinese reader. (View the sample page.)

Edited by 方炳桂
福建人民出版社, 1999
ISBN: 7-211-03432-7
Price: ¥18.50

Mr. Huŏng Bīng-gié (方炳桂, people also call him “Huŏng Lō̤” to show their respect) has long been a local celebrity for his passion in promoting Fuzhou dialect and culture. In his book Fuzhou Idioms, Huŏng Lō̤ affectionately narrates the famous Fuzhou idioms, adages and legendaries. Unlike other books listed in this page, Huŏng Lō̤’s Fuzhou Idioms does not require any specific background knowledge; so it’s pretty understandable for ordinary readers. (View the sample page.)

Edited by 陈泽平
福建人民出版社, 2003
ISBN: 7-211-03130-1
Price: ¥10.50

This collection of famous Fuzhou sayings is another work by Mr. Dìng Dĕk-bìng. The difference from Huŏng Lō̤’s Fuzhou Idioms and Dìng’s Fuzhou Idioms and Ballads is that the latter is much more linguistically precise: under each line of Foochowese characters the corresponding IPA is given, so even a non-Foochowese speaker would be able to read them out loud. Without exaggeration, the Fuzhou Idioms and Ballads can be regarded as crystallization of Fuzhou people’s wisdom. By studying this book you will certainly get a deeper comprehension of our traditional culture. (View the sample page.)

Edited by Charles Hartwell
福州美华书局, 1893

You might be familiar with the Three Character Classic (三字经), a time-honored Chinese classic text for preschool education. But I’m afraid you’ve never heard of a Three Character Classic written in Fuzhou dialect for catechumens: Three Character Classic of Gospel (真理三字经). The author Charles Hartwell was an American Board missionary who spent most of his life in Fuzhou. It is said that his Fuzhou dialect was as fluent as his mother tongue English. No wonder he could write such an elaborate work.

All text is organized in triplets of characters: 元早早, 毛天地. 凡人物, 昧切备... Now read after me: Nguòng cā cā, mò̤ tiĕng dê. Huàng ìng ŭk, muôi chiék bê... Well, really easy to memorize, huh? (View the sample page.)

福建教育音像出版社, 2007
ISRC: CN-E18-07-314-00/V·G4
Price: ¥50.00

Fuzhou Bìng-uâ (福州评话) is a storytelling art of entertainment. Decades ago (before I was born), when a television was still a luxury, people would flock into the streets to watch Bìng-uâ performances. However, with the quickening pace of the information age, Bìng-uâ is losing its popularity among younger generations.

But this 15-episode cartoon series, as a modern adaptation of the traditional art form, gives Bìng-uâ a new life. It tells of the legendary life of a historical figure from Fuzhou named Găng Guók-bō̤ (甘国宝) who lived in Qing Dynasty. The fifth episode has been uploaded in YouTube.

Online resources

连江县国小乡土语言 - 福州语

Thanks to the Taiwanese Localization Movement, our poor mother tongue finally limped into primary schools as a required course in Matsu Islands, Republic of China. If Fuzhou dialect proves to be too tough for you to learn, then this online flash textbook is certainly for you. It’ll make it full of fun!

Mindong Wikipedia

The Mindong Wikipedia is a Wikipedia project which started in September 2006, with a team of only 3 people (including myself as the administrator) contributing. It is written in Church Foochow Romanized partly because of the impossibility to write Fuzhou dialect in Chinese characters. Not much stuff there but every article is worth reading.

Audio New Testament in Fuzhou Dialect

The Word of God is never silent. Close your eyes and listen to the New Testament in Fuzhou dialect.

Last updated: 2010/12/24