|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Chinese Wikipedia. (July 2012)|
臺灣華語 Táiwān Huáyǔ
|Native speakers||4.3 million (1993)|
|Writing system||Traditional Chinese characters|
|Official language in||Republic of China (Taiwan)|
|Regulated by||National Languages Committee (Ministry of Education, ROC).|
Taiwanese Mandarin is a variant of Mandarin derived from the official Standard Mandarin spoken in Taiwan. The latter's standard lect is known in Taiwan as 國語 (Guóyǔ, Kuo-yü), based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect together with the grammar of Vernacular Chinese.
The official Guoyu is almost identical except for the writing systems with the official Standard Mandarin used in the People's Republic of China, which is called Pǔtōnghuà (普通话). However, Mandarin as spoken informally in Taiwan has some notable differences in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation with official Standard Mandarin, differences which have arisen mainly under influence from Taiwanese Hokkien (臺灣閩南語, first language/lect of about 70% of the population of Taiwan), other mother tongues of Taiwan as Hakka (客家話, spoken natively by about 15% of the Taiwanese) and Formosan languages, additionally English, and Japanese from the prior Japanese period.
- 1 Usage
- 2 Differences from Mainland Mandarin
- 2.1 Script
- 2.2 Pronunciation
- 2.3 Grammar
- 2.4 Vocabulary
- 3 Notes
- 4 References
In 1945 when Republic of China took over Taiwan and surrounding islands from Japan, Mandarin was introduced as the official language and made compulsory in schools. A Mandarin Promotion Council (now called National Languages Committee) was established in 1946 by Taiwan Chief Executive Chen Yi (陳儀) to standardize and popularize the usage of Standard Mandarin in Taiwan. The Council was led by 21 Chinese Scholars such as Wei Jiangong (魏建功), He Rong (何容), Qi Tiehen (齊鐵恨), Wang Yuchuan (王玉川), Fang Shiduo (方師鐸), Zhu Zhaoxiang (朱兆祥), Wu Shouli (吳守禮) etc. (From 1895 to 1945, Japanese was the official language and taught in schools.) Since then, Mandarin has been established as a lingua franca among the various groups in Taiwan: the majority Han ethnic Hoklo, the Hakka who have their own spoken language, Mainlanders whose native tongue may be any Chinese variant from mainland China, and the Indigenous Taiwanese who speak Indigenous languages.
Until the 1980s the Kuomintang administration heavily promoted the use of Standard Mandarin and discouraged the use of Taiwanese and other vernaculars, even portraying them as inferior. Mandarin was the only sanctioned language for use in the media. This produced a backlash in the 1990s. Although some supporters of Taiwan independence tend to be opposed to standard Mandarin in favor of Taiwanese, efforts to replace standard Mandarin either with Taiwanese or with a multi-lingual standard have not been successful. Today, Mandarin is taught by immersion starting in elementary school. After the second grade, the entire educational system is in Mandarin, except for local language classes that have been taught for a few hours each week starting in the mid-1990s.
Taiwanese Mandarin (as with Singlish and many other situations of a creole speech community) is spoken at different levels according to the social class and situation of the speakers. Formal occasions call for the acrolectal level of Guoyu (Standard Mandarin). Less formal situations often result in the basilect form, which has more uniquely Taiwanese features. Bilingual speakers often code-switch between Mandarin and Taiwanese, sometimes in the same sentence.
Mandarin is spoken fluently by almost the entire Taiwanese population, except for some elderly people who were educated under Japanese rule. In the capital Taipei, where there is a high concentration of Mainlanders whose native language is not Taiwanese, Mandarin is used in greater frequency and fluency than other parts of Taiwan.
Differences from Mainland Mandarin
Taiwanese Mandarin uses traditional Chinese characters, as opposed to the simplified Chinese characters on the mainland. Taiwanese braille is based on different letter assignments than Mainland Chinese braille. Romanization had once been distinct, but now the pinyin system can be seen in both countries, though pinyin is mainly used in Mainland China while the Wade-Giles system is more prominent in Taiwan.
There are two categories of pronunciation differences. The first is of characters that have an official pronunciation that differs from Putonghua (普通话 Pǔtōnghuà), primarily in the form of differences in tone, rather than in vowels or consonants. The second is more general, with differences being unofficial and arising through Taiwanese Hokkien influence on Guoyu (國語 Guóyǔ).
Variant official pronunciations
The following is a partial list of such differences:
|垃圾 (or 拉圾)
|lājī||lèsè||The pronunciation of lèsè originates from the Wu dialect and was the common pronunciation in China before 1949.|
In acrolectal Taiwanese Mandarin:
- the retroflex sounds (ch, zh, sh, r) from Putonghua are pronounced more like alveolo-palatal affricates and fricatives.
- erhua is very rarely heard
- the syllable written as pinyin: eng before b, f, m, p and w is pronounced as [ʊŋ] in all tones.
- Isochrony is considerably more syllable-timed than in other Mandarin dialects (including Putonghua), which are stress-timed. Consequently, the "neutral tone" (輕聲) does not occur as often.
In basilectal Taiwanese Mandarin, sounds that do not occur in Taiwanese are replaced by sounds from that language. These variations from Standard Mandarin are similar to the variations of Mandarin spoken in southern China. Using the Hanyu Pinyin system, the following sound changes take place (going from Putonghua to Taiwanese Mandarin followed with an example):
- f- becomes hu- (fan → huan 反 → 緩) (This applies to native Hoklo speakers - Hakka speakers maintain precisely the opposite: (e.g. hua → fa 花 → 發))
- qi can become ki
- -ie, ye becomes ei (tie → tei)
- chi (stand-alone) becomes tu (chi → tu)
- ch- becomes c- (chuan → cuan 傳 → 攢)
- r- becomes l- (ren → len) or [z]
- zh-, zhi becomes z-, zi (zhao → zao 照 → 造)
- sh-, shi becomes s-, si (shuo → suo 說→縮)
- yu becomes yi (yue → ye 月 → 夜)
- the diphthongs ei and ou are monophthongized as [e] and [o] respectively
|This section requires expansion. (June 2008)|
The standard Mandarin construct 有…沒有 (have or not have) is not as commonly used in Taiwanese Mandarin as in standard Mandarin. For example, the sentence "Do you have a car?" is as follows:
- Taiwanese Mandarin: 你有沒有汽車？ (lit. "you have or not have a car?")
- PRC Mandarin: 你有汽車沒有? (lit. "you have a car or not have?")
In some contexts, the construction involving 有 is used where the sentence final particle 了 would normally be applied to denote perfect. For instance, Taiwanese Mandarin more commonly uses "你有吃飯嗎？" to mean "Have you eaten?" whereas standard Mandarin uses "你吃飯了嗎？". This is due to the influence of Min Nan grammar, which uses 有 ū in a similar fashion.
Vocabulary differences can be divided into several categories – particles, different usage of the same term, loan words, technological words, idioms, and words specific to living in Taiwan. Because of the limited transfer of information between mainland China and Taiwan after the Chinese civil war, many items that were invented after this split have different names in Guoyu and Putonghua. Additionally, many terms were adopted from Japanese both as a result of its close proximity (Okinawa) as well as Taiwan's status as a Japanese territory in the first half of the 20th century.
Spoken Taiwanese Mandarin uses a number of Taiwan specific (but not exclusive) final particles, such as 囉 (luō), 嘛(ma), 喔 (ō), 耶 (yē), 咧 (lie),齁 (hō), 咩(mei),唷(yō) etc.
Same words, different meaning
Some terms have different meanings in Taiwan and mainland China, which can sometimes lead to misunderstandings between speakers of different sides of the Taiwan Strait. Often there are alternative, unambiguous terms which can be understood by both sides.
|Term||Meaning in Taiwan||Meaning in mainland China||Remarks|
|to carry out something insidious, to screw/fuck (vulgar)||to do, to perform a task||As such, it is a verb that is rarely seen in any official or formal setting in Taiwan, whereas it is widely used in mainland China even by its top officials in official settings.|
|a kind of warm feeling||having an uneased mind|
chū zū chē
|rental car||taxi||In Taiwan, taxis are called 計程車 / 计程车 (jì chéng chē), which is used less frequently in mainland China. However, many taxis in Taiwan have 個人出租汽車 written on them.|
yán jiū suǒ (mainland China)
yán jiù suǒ (Taiwan)
|graduate school||research institute|
|lover (unmarried)/mistress||spouse||this term in the sense of "spouse" is falling out of use in mainland China|
Different preferred usage
Some terms can be understood by both sides to mean the same thing; however, their preferred usage differs.
xī hóng shì
"western red persimmon"
|box lunch||便當 (T)
(loanword from Japanese bentō 弁当)
literally, "pedaling/foot-stamp vehicle"
(phonetic loan from Japanese jitensha 自転車)
literally, "oneself-propelled vehicle"
(loanword from Japanese yōchien 幼稚園)
Loan words may differ largely between Putonghua and Taiwanese Mandarin, as different characters or methods may be chosen for transliteration (phonetical or semantical), even the number of characters may different. For example, American President Obama's surname is called 奥巴馬 Àobāmǎ in Putonghua and 歐巴馬 or 歐巴瑪 Ōubāmǎ in Guoyu. Also, in Taiwanese Mandarin, rhotacization (Erhua) is generally avoided.
The term "machi" (麻吉 májí) borrowed from the English term "match", is used to describe items or people which complement each other well. Note that this term has become popular in mainland China as well.
The Guoyu term "fensi 粉絲," borrowed from the English term "fans", is used to describe fans or people who idolize a superstar，it's now also prevalent in Mainland china since talent show boom heated in 2000s.
From Taiwanese Hoklo
The terms "阿公 agōng" and "阿嬤 amà" are more commonly heard than the standard Mandarin terms 爺爺 yéye (paternal grandfather), 外公 wàigōng (maternal grandfather), 奶奶 nǎinai (paternal grandmother) and 外婆 wàipó (maternal grandmother).
Some local foods usually are referred to using their Guoyu names. These include:
|剉冰||chhoah-peng||[tsʰuaʔ˥˧piŋ˥]||Shaved ice with sliced fresh fruit on top (usually strawberry, kiwi or mango)|
|麻糬||môa-chî||[mua˧tɕi˧˥]||glutinous rice cakes (see Mochi)|
List of Taiwanese Hoklo words commonly found in local Mandarin language newspapers and periodicals
|As seen in two popular newspapers||Taiwanese (POJ)||Mandarin Equivalent (Pinyin)||English|
|a local tyrant; a bully|
|incompetent; foolish person; a person whose ability is unmatched with those around him.|
|obstinate(ly), tense (as of fe sing/performing)|
|shy; bashful; sense of shame|
|to end up with nothing|
|軟潤有彈性 (ruǎn rùn yǒu tánxìng)
||description for food—soft and pliable (like mochi cakes)|
|old and senile|
|to muck around|
|I beg your pardon; I am sorry; Excuse me.|
|to be well suited to each other|
|an event; a matter; an affair|
|1can not bear something
|to win an election|
|(you have/he has) lost (your/his) mind!|
|to go off the rails; to go wrong|
|driver (of automotive vehicles; from Japanese うんちゃん unchan, slang for 運転士 untenshi)|
|depressed; sulky; unhappy; moody|
|Japanese (Romaji)||Taiwanese Mandarin (Pinyin)||Mainland Chinese Mandarin (Pinyin)||English||Note|
|弁当 (bentō)||便當 (biàndāng)||盒饭 (héfàn)||A boxed lunch.||弁当 in Japanese was borrowed from a Classical Chinese term using different characters but reintroduced to Taiwan via Mandarin as 便當 via different characters via 便 instead of 弁 because 便 means "convenient" which certainly is what a bento box is. In China, they used the semantic approach, and used a totally different term 盒饭 from Cantonese via Hong Kong meaning "boxed rice/meal/lunch"|
|達人 (tatsujin)||達人 (dárén)||高手 (gāoshǒu)||Someone who is very talented at doing something (a pro or expert) or adult. Also written 大人。||達人 has the same meaning in classical Chinese, but not widely used in vernacular Chinese in mainland china.|
|中古 (chūko)||中古 (zhōnggǔ)||二手 (èrshǒu)||Used, second-hand.|
|Japanese (Romaji)||Taiwanese Mandarin (Pinyin)||English|
|気持ち (kimochi)||奇蒙子 (qíméngzǐ)||Mood; Feeling.|
|お婆さん (obāsan)||歐巴桑 (ōubāsāng - most people in Taiwan will use the Taiwanese pronunciation (POJ: o·-bá-sáng, [ɔ˧ba˥saŋ˥˧]))||Auntie.|
|おでん (oden)||黑輪 (hēilún)||A type of stewed flour-based snack/sidedish.|
|お爺さん (ojīsan)||歐吉桑 (ōujísāng)||Uncle.|
|オートバイ (ōtobai)||歐多拜 (ōuduōbài)||An Autobike or motorcycle.|
Idioms and proverbs
|Taiwanese Mandarin (Pinyin)
|Mainland Chinese Mandarin (Pinyin)
|垂手可得 (chuí shǒu kě dé)
|唾手可得 (tuò shǒu kě dé)
|extremely easy to obtain|
|一蹴可幾 (yī cù kě jī)
|一蹴而就 (yī cù ér jiù)
|to reach a goal in one step|
|一覽無遺 (yī lǎn wú yí)
|一览无余 (yī lǎn wú yú)
|to take in everything at a glance|
|入境隨俗 (rù jìng suí sú)
|入乡随俗 (rù xiāng suí sú)
|When in Rome, do as the Romans do.|
Words specific to living in Taiwan
Google hits: .tw
Google hits: .cn
|ānqīnbān||after school childcare (lit. happy parents class)|
|bǎngzhuāng||pork barrel (lit. bind stumps together)|
|biàndāng||a box meal (from Japanese, bento), word traditionally means "convenient"|
|gékuí||the premier (surname + kui for short)|
|gōngchē||public bus (in the PRC, 公车 also/mainly refers to government owned vehicles)|
|jīchē||motor scooter/(slang) someone or something extremely annoying or irritating (means "locomotive" in mainland China)|
|jiéyùn||rapid transit (e.g. Kaohsiung MRT, Taipei Metro)|
|tǒngyī biānhào||the Government Uniform ID number of a corporation|
- Mandarin Chinese reference at Ethnologue (17th ed., 2013)
- Often written using the Mandarin equivalent 鉋冰, but pronounced using the Taiwanese Hoklo word.
- Google hits from the China Times (中時電子報) and Liberty Times (自由時報) are included.
- This can be a tricky one, because 見笑 means "to be laughed at" in Standard Mandarin. Context will tell you which meaning should be inferred.
- Many people in Taiwan will use the Mandarin pronunciation (guīmáo).
- the writing 凍蒜 (lit. freeze garlic) probably originated in 1997, when the price of garlic was overly raised, and people called for the government to gain control of the price.
- 晋 葛洪 《抱朴子·行品》：“顺通塞而一情，任性命而不滞者，达人也。” 贾谊 《鵩鸟赋》：“小智自私兮，贱彼贵我；达人大观兮，物无不可。”
- Derived from Taiwanese pronunciation (POJ: kî-bông-jí, [ki˧bɔŋ˧ʑi˥˧])
- Derived from Taiwanese pronunciation (烏鰱, POJ: o·-liân, [ɔ˧liɛn˧˥])
- Most people in Taiwan will use the Taiwanese pronunciation (POJ: o·-jí-sáng, [ɔ˧ʑi˥saŋ˥˧])
- The first character 閣 is usually omitted when placed behind the surname. For example, the former premier was Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌). Since his surname is 蘇, he was referred to in the press as 蘇揆.
- The numbers are a bit misleading in this case because in the PRC, 公车 also refers to government owned vehicles.
- Young people in Taiwan also use this word to refer to someone or something extremely annoying or irritating.
- Often abbreviated as 統編 (tǒngbiān).
- Kubler, Cornelius Charles (1985). The development of Mandarin in Taiwan: A case study of language contact. Taipei: Student Book.
- Kuo, Yun-Hsuan (2005). New dialect formation: The case of Taiwanese Mandarin. Unpublished doctoral dissertation, UK: University of Essex.
- Tseng, Hsin-I. (2003). The syntax structures of contemporary Taiwanese Mandarin [當代台灣國語的句法結構]. Unpublished master's thesis, National Taiwan Normal University, Taipei.
- 台灣話大詞典 (Tâi-ôan-ōe tōa-sû-tián), ISBN 957-32-4078-5
- "On-line Taiwanese/Mandarin Dictionary (Tai-gi hôa-gí sòaⁿ-téng sû-tián)" (in Taiwanese/Mandarin/English).