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Some older speakers in Taiwan are not able to differentiate between f and hu, with Min speakers using hu and Hakka speakers using f. Then, for example 發 fā and 花 huā may sound the same, or 風 fēng and 烘 hōng. But I have problems finding useful minimal pairs with multiple-character words, aside from construed ones like e.g. 發炎 fāyán and 花顏 huāyán,where both words are relatively well-used and would make sense in the same context. Maybe 花錢 huāqián and 發錢 fāqián.

I would like to have two sentences in Standard Chinese that differ only in hu vs. f that would make sense in the same context. It would also be nice if they would mean comically different things, to make the pair more memorable.

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  • 1
    I apologize, but I still don't understand the question. You say minimal pair but in what language, min hakka or standard mandarin? all will be very different from each other. fyi they aren't pronouncing the v/f and h the same per se, hakka has both and pronounces them differently, min has no f sound and probably cannot say it at all.
    – zagrycha
    Feb 1 at 18:29
  • @zagrycha I believe he's asking for two sentences in Mandarin where the only difference is one word, and the words are a minimal pair for hu/f (in Mandarin) but which would be mispronounced as homophones by a Mandarin speaker with a strong Min or Hakka accent. Feb 1 at 20:48
  • @StumpyJoePete that sounds doable although you'd probably need two separate answers-- one knowing min and mandarin and one knowing hakka and mandarin.
    – zagrycha
    Feb 1 at 23:58
  • 1
    福州 (the capital of Fujian) vs 湖州 (prefecture-level city in Zhejiang) isn't comically different, but it sure is difficult to differentiate by context when you're at a train station in 南京 or 杭州!
    – Michaelyus
    Feb 2 at 9:55
  • 1
    @zagrycha: It was already in the title, but now I clarified in the question body. The problem with some Hakka speakers is not that they have no h, but that they have no hu. So they may say jiéfēn instead of jiéhūn in 結婚, but have no problem with only h in, say, hǎi 海. And then there's hypercorrection.
    – Dodezv
    Feb 2 at 11:04

1 Answer 1

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Note that I have not considered huai and feng to be minimal. However, in practice many accents that have the hu-/f- merger also have the -n/-ng merger, thus resulting in a fen/feng/hun merger.

The below comes from a query of the Chinese Lexical Database collected by University of Tübingen, which is based on simplified Chinese (but converted to traditional, albeit not always correctly) and standard mainland Mandarin Chinese pinyin, pre-tone sandhi:

  • 案發 vs 暗花
  • 白髮 vs 白化/白樺/白話
  • 便飯 vs 變幻/變換
  • 便服 vs 便壺
  • 財閥 vs 才華
  • 餐費 vs 參會/餐會
  • 倉房 vs 倉惶/倉皇
  • 船夫 vs 傳呼
  • 長髮 vs 長話
  • 大費 vs 大會
  • 大幅/大福 vs 大湖
  • 大副/大賦 vs 大戶
  • 電費 vs 電匯
  • 墊付 vs 佃戶
  • 發包 vs 花苞
  • 發布 vs 花布
  • 發車 vs 花車
  • 發電 vs 花店
  • 發花 vs 花花
  • 發還 vs 花環
  • 發黃 vs 花房
  • 花費 vs 花會/花卉
  • 發紅 vs 花紅
  • 發酵 vs 花轎
  • 發球 vs 花球
  • 發聲/發生 vs 花生
  • 發誓 vs 花市/花式/花飾
  • 發源 vs 花園
  • 發展 vs 花展
  • 乏力 vs 華麗
  • 髮髻 vs 畫技
  • 髮夾 vs 畫家
  • 髮廊/琺瑯 vs 畫廊
  • 髮式 vs 畫室
  • 翻騰 vs 歡騰
  • 翻新 vs 歡心/歡欣
  • 翻越/翻閱 vs 歡悅
  • 煩擾 vs 環繞 (variant pron.)
  • 凡世/凡事/凡是 vs 環視
  • 繁星 vs 環星
  • 犯病 vs 患病
  • 犯戒 vs 換屆
  • 泛起 vs 喚起
  • 飯前/飯錢 vs 換錢
  • 犯人 vs 換人
  • 犯上 vs 換上
  • 梵文 vs 換文
  • 方糖 vs 荒唐
  • 方園/方圓 vs 荒原
  • 防塵 vs 黃塵
  • 防蟲 vs 蝗蟲
  • 防盜 vs 黃道
  • 防風 vs 黃蜂
  • 房梁 vs 皇糧
  • 房事/房室 vs 皇室
  • 防衛 vs 皇位
  • 防災 vs 蝗災
  • 放蕩 vs 晃蕩
  • 飛蛾 vs 灰鵝
  • 揮發 vs 飛花
  • 緋紅 vs 恢宏
  • 飛進 vs 灰燼
  • 飛舞 vs 揮舞
  • 肥水 vs 回水
  • 誹謗 vs 毀謗
  • 廢話/費話 vs 會話/繪畫
  • 會費 vs 狒狒
  • 廢票 vs 匯票
  • 廢棄/廢氣 vs 晦氣
  • 費錢 vs 會前
  • 費事 vs 會試/匯市
  • 費心 vs 會心
  • 肺炎 vs 諱言
  • 廢置 vs 繪制
  • 分辨/分辯 vs 婚變
  • 分發 vs 昏花
  • 分房 vs 昏黃
  • 分界 vs 婚介
  • 分配 vs 婚配
  • 分期 vs 婚期
  • 份飯 vs 混飯
  • 奮進 vs 混進
  • 分式 vs 混事
  • 奮戰 vs 混戰
  • 活佛 vs 活活
  • 佛門 vs 活門
  • 佛像 vs 活像
  • 服部 vs 狐步
  • 幅度 vs 弧度
  • 拂面 vs 湖面
  • 伏天 vs 胡天
  • 浮現 vs 弧線
  • 服刑 vs 弧形
  • 附耳 vs 護耳
  • 付費 vs 互惠
  • 負極 vs 戶籍
  • 復利 vs 互利
  • 婦聯 vs 互聯/互連
  • 復明 vs 戶名
  • 富強 vs 護牆
  • 附屬 vs 戶數
  • 復式/復試 vs 護士
  • 復位 vs 互為/護衛
  • 付息 vs 護膝
  • 復信 vs 互信
  • 父兄 vs 護胸
  • 附注 vs 互助
  • 公費 vs 公會/工會
  • 核發 vs 荷花
  • 黑髮 vs 黑話
  • 肌膚 vs 幾乎
  • 繼髮 vs 計劃
  • 寄費/計費 vs 忌諱
  • 假髮 vs 假話
  • 肩負 vs 監護
  • 剪髮 vs 簡化
  • 交費 vs 交會/交匯
  • 交付 vs 交互
  • 舅父 vs 救護
  • 開發 vs 開花
  • 開方 vs 開荒
  • 開赴 vs 開戶
  • 理髮 vs 理化
  • 美髮 vs 美化
  • 農婦 vs 農戶
  • 平反 vs 平緩
  • 舒服 vs 疏忽
  • 神父 vs 神戶
  • 生非 vs 生輝
  • 生活費 vs 生活會
  • 首富 vs 守護
  • 攤販 vs 癱瘓
  • 西服/西弗/惜福 vs 西湖/溪湖
  • 細髮 vs 細化
  • 小費 vs 小惠
  • 小幅 vs 小湖
  • 小腹 vs 小戶
  • 秀發 vs 繡花
  • 學費 vs 學會
  • 養父 vs 養護
  • 依附 vs 醫護
  • 印髮 vs 印花
  • 雜費 vs 雜燴
  • 支付 vs 支護
  • 植髮 vs 直話

I might come back later and do a post-tone sandhi version. However, a few that come to my mind which aren't mentioned above:

  • the capital of Fujian, 福州 vs a prefecture-level city of Zhejiang, 湖州, as I mentioned in a comment. I imagine if we added more toponyms in, we would get a pretty large range.
  • a partial 3-way one: 法語 (TW-only) vs 話語 and 法語 (CN-mainland / SG / ML) vs 華語, which I have personally had trouble with!
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  • The ones with 髮 wouldn't work in Taiwan, since 髮 has third tone, fǎ, in Taiwan. But they make for interesting examples for Chinese with this merger.
    – Dodezv
    Feb 2 at 18:50

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