Monday, January 17, 2022

Language & Phrasebook in Taiwan

AsiaTaiwanLanguage & Phrasebook in Taiwan

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While Mandarin Chinese is the official language and is spoken well by almost all younger Taiwanese, English-speakers are generally available when help is required, albeit the quality of English sometimes makes discussions difficult and time-consuming.

Taiwanese (Minnan), Mandarin, Hakka, and other Asian languages, as well as numerous native Austronesian languages, are spoken on the island. The lingua franca is Mandarin, although Taiwanese is spoken as the main language by about 70% of the people. In the north, where there is a large concentration of so-called “mainlanders” (those whose families fled to Taiwan from mainland China during the Chinese Civil War in the 1940s), most people speak Mandarin as their primary language (though Taiwanese is widely spoken), but in the south, Taiwanese is far more common. Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka are all tonal languages, making them difficult to learn for most foreigners. The main Chinese dialect on the Matsu islands is Mindong or Eastern Min (also known as Hokchiu or Foochowese), which is also spoken in the Fuzhou region and along the northern Fujian coast.

Although standard Mandarin in Taiwan is virtually similar to standard Mandarin in mainland China (with the exception of technical and translated words created after 1949), most people speak a distinctively accented variant known as Taiwanese Mandarin. Taiwanese Mandarin, for example, does not distinguish between the “S” and “Sh” sounds in Mandarin. Everyone who was educated after 1945 is usually proficient in Mandarin, but it is not often the first language of choice. Mandarin is very popular among young people. Some of the elder generation are not proficient in Mandarin since they were educated in Japanese or do not speak it at all. Taiwanese people are often extremely welcoming of outsiders and respond with interest and appreciation when they attempt the native language. Most Taiwanese people communicate in a code-switched mix of Mandarin and Taiwanese. Within Taipei City, Mandarin is spoken more often than Taiwanese, and less frequently outside of it. Taiwan retains the usage of traditional Chinese characters, which are also used in Hong Kong and Macau, rather than the simplified ones used on the mainland.

Taiwanese is a variation of Minnan, which is close to the dialect spoken in Xiamen across the Taiwan Strait. Taiwanese Minnan, unlike Xiamen Minnan, contains several Japanese loan words as a consequence of 50 years of Japanese colonialism. Taiwanese Minnan and Xiamen Minnan are both mixes of the Zhangzhou and Quanzhou accents, thus Taiwanese Minnan sounds quite similar to Xiamen Minnan.

With the exception of the Matsu islands, where announcements will be given in Mandarin and the Mindong dialect, all public announcements in the transportation system will be delivered in Mandarin, Taiwanese, and Hakka.

Younger individuals, particularly in Taipei, typically speak a basic conversational level of English. With the focus on English language education nowadays, and English being a compulsory subject in Taiwanese schools, children often comprehend more English than their parents. Attempts to speak Mandarin or Taiwanese, on the other hand, will be greeted with beaming grins and encouragement.

Because to the large number of Japanese visitors, many individuals, particularly in Taipei, are fluent in Japanese. In addition to English, Mandarin, and other local languages, staff at tourist sites such as Taipei 101, museums, hotels, prominent restaurants, and airport stores speak Japanese. In reality, if you are a tourist of East Asian origin who does not understand Chinese, a worker may attempt to communicate with you in Japanese first before attempting to communicate in English. Furthermore, having lived during the fifty-year era of Japanese control, some elderly individuals still understand and speak Japanese.

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