Intercultural Communication

Course Website for Tunghai FLLD Seminar

Wikipedia project: Languages of Taiwan

Posted by ashy7495 on November 29, 2006

Since I am interested in languages, I have chosen the article “Languages of Taiwan” which offers introduction of languages or dialects that have been using in Taiwan. According to the article, it contains Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Hakka, Formosans and Japanese.Then it connects with our unique “Zhuyin system” and inconsistent romanization system in Taiwan. At last, Taiwanese and Hakka are introduced in linguistics aspect, then briefly Formosan languages and Japanese.

From the outline contents at the beginning, you can see how they are divided into topics from their official usages. First, it expalins the complexity of Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese, the article provides more specific introduction of Mandarin, including how it has become the National language and how it is spoken due to the influence of Taiwanese grammar. I think there is another thing we can mention to show people’s attitude toward them. It is that even some second generation of mainlanders speak fluent Taiwanese; however, some Minan children only speak Standard Mandrin due to the lack of practice within their family. Though what different areas may result in different language usages, it does not 100% represent where you were from. In “Taiwanese Mandarin”, it explains the language blending in Taiwan society.

Second, Taiwan use “Taiwan Tongyong Romanization”, which sometimes based on Mandarin Chinese and sometimes on Taiwanese. I think in Wikipedia, they can add examples of Taiwanese confusing traffic signs, esp. location naming. It will help people understand more. Besides, more articles in “Zhuyin Fuhao” articles have a more precise comparison table between Zhuyin, Tongyong Pinyin & Hanyu Pinyin. On the other hand, I heard another 台羅拼音(Taiwanese-Romanization) a few months ago, it states as a pinyin system for original Taiwanese pronunciation. One thing interesting that has been mentioned, “In advertisements, ㄅㄆㄇㄈ phonetic symbols are sometimes used to write certain particles and mass media.” Since ㄅㄆㄇㄈis one method for inputting Chinese text, I think in the article we can add “Martian words (火星文)” among younger generation. It is a result of blending ㄅㄆㄇㄈ and Chinese characters, sometimes it could be confusing because of the incorrect or dual pronunciation among every reader. For example, 你很美.(accurate) v.s. 你粉美 (Martian version). 你們這樣好嗎? (accurate) v.s. 你ㄇ醬(ㄐ一ㄤˋ=這樣 )好ㄇ(Martian version)? This is another recent issue that government has been working on improving students’ standard usage of languages. One thing I have different ideas of “Zhuyin Fuhao” (line 7)-“The system uses 37 special symbols to represent the Mandarin sounds: 21 consonants and 16 vowels.” I think here the definitions of consonants and vowels her are different from English. For example, I think “ㄅ” is not pronounced purely as a consonant sound “P” in English. It is not about voiced or voiceless, “ㄅ” actually pronounces P +ә /o (with vowel sound). “ㄇ” pronounces M+ә /0. “ㄈ” pronounces F+ә /o. Besides, 16 vowels contain single vowels, diphthongs, and nasal vowels. For example, “ㄞ”= ai, “ㄟ”= ei, “ㄠ”=au, “ㄡ”= ou, “ㄢ”= an.

This article is rated as “HIGH” scale for understanding Taiwanese culture; however, there is not much discussion going on. After reading this article, I think foreign people probably have 2 questions. The One is like what is the exact consistent pinyin system that Taiwan practically use? And the other question might be, what is the main difference of Mandarin Chinese and Taiwanese? I would like to give people some advice here- many issues in Taiwan caused from historical incidents and political tension we have been having with Mainland China. Maybe this is part of the reason why people think Taiwanese culture is so rich. Basically many simple questions have been complicated.

(2006. Nov. 29)


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