Have you ever noticed that our Teochew numbers 1 to 10 sound different, but yet somewhat similar, to the numbers in Cantonese?
Let's hear them:
Of course, Teochew and Cantonese are Chinese languages. But what about Teochew numbers and Japanese ones?
Let's see again from this comparison table below:
|1 一||zêg8 (ig4)||yat1||ichi||หนึ่ง nueng|
|2 二||no6 (ji6)||yi6||ni||สอง sawng|
|3 三||san1||saam1||san||สาม saam|
|4 四||si3||sei3||shi (yon)||สี่ see|
|5 五||ngou6||ng5||go||ห้า hah|
|6 六||lag8||luk6||roku||หก hoke|
|7 七||cig4||cat1||shichi (nana)||เจ็ด jed|
|8 八||boih4||baat3||hachi||แปด ppaed|
|9 九||gao2||gau2||kyuu||เก้า gaao|
|10 十||zab8||sap6||juu||สิบ sip|
It is almost certain that the numbers in these four languages evolved from a common source. But what was this? The answer lies within this video:
Middle Chinese (中古漢語) was the standard literary Chinese that appeared in Northern China in the 4th century CE. It flourished during the Sui and Tang dynasties (c.581 to 907) and began to spread together with Tang's political influence and Buddhism to the peripheries of imperial China and areas beyond its borders, such as Japan.
The similarities of the sounds of Teochew numbers with those of Middle Chinese, Cantonese and Japanese affirm revelations about the establishment of Chinese literary culture in the Teochew region between the late Tang and the Song dynasty (960–1279). Finally, the conquest of Song China by the Mongols in the 13th century saw the flight of many Chinese officials to Thailand, bringing with them the influence of Middle Chinese.
Meanwhile, the occupation of various parts of northern China by the Khitans, the Jurchens and finally the Mongols after the 10th century brought the evolution of a new branch of Chinese. This became modern Mandarin, which displays the influence of Middle Chinese but is at the same time distinct.
This incredible video below shows the discernible north-south divide of how the numbers 1-10 are counted in 100 Chinese languages/dialects in China, as well as Teochew's (from 15:59) proximity with its sister Min (闽) languages spoken in Fujian.
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