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Teochew People

Teochew language and culture evolved in Teochew City and spread to other parts of Teochew Prefecture and beyond, to Shanwei Prefecture and southern part of Fujian Province.

Teochew Prefecture (now popularly known as Chaoshan) is populated mainly by Teochews and a minority of Teochew Hakkas who lives mainly in Jiexi county in Teochew Prefecture.  There are about 10 million Teochews in Teochew Prefecture and a guestimated 5-10 million Teochews living outside mainland China, including those living in Hong Kong.

Shanwei Prefecture (about half the size of Teochew Prefecture), to the southwest of Teochew Prefecture, has a population of 2.5 million, consisting mainly of Teochew-speaking people, albeit with different accent (“e” is changed to “i” while “oi” is changed to “ei”) as well as Teochew Hakkas minority (who live mainly in the mountainous region) and Cantonese (who live mainly in the urban areas). 

Moreover the Zhaoan people who lives in the southern part of Fujian Province covering the counties of Nanzhao (Zhaoan), Yunxiao and Dongshan loved to watch Teochew opera (and even have their own Teochew Opera troupes), even though these people speak a different dialect, the Zhaoan dialect.

However, even in the Teochew Prefecture, the younger generation of Teochews are becoming more fluent in Mandarin (known as Putonghua in China) and speaking less Teochew!  This is because nowadays the medium of instruction in school is Mandarin instead of Teochew as was the case in the old days.


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