Taiwanese Mandarin

Taiwanese Mandarin
臺灣華語, Táiwān Huáyǔ
中華民國國語, Zhōnghuá Mínguó Guóyǔ
PronunciationStandard Chinese [tʰai˧˥wan˥xwa˧˥ɥy˨˩˦]

Hokkien Influenced [tʰai˧˥wan˥fa˧˥ji˨˩˦][citation needed]

Hakka Influenced [tʰai˧˥wan˥xwa˧˥ji˨˩˦][citation needed]
Native toTaiwan
Native speakers
(4.3 million cited 1993)[1]
L2 speakers: more than 15 million (no date)[2]
Traditional Chinese characters
Official status
Official language in
 Republic of China (Taiwan) (de facto)
 United Nations (1945–1971)
Regulated byMinistry of Education (Taiwan)
Language codes
ISO 639-3
ISO 639-6goyu (Guoyu)
Taiwanese Mandarin Usage Map.svg
Percentage of Taiwanese aged 6 and above speaking Mandarin at home in 2010
This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.
Taiwanese Mandarin
Traditional Chinese臺灣華語
Simplified Chinese台湾话语
National language of the Republic of China
Traditional Chinese中華民國國語
Simplified Chinese中华民国国语

Taiwanese Mandarin refers to any of the varieties of Mandarin Chinese spoken in Taiwan. The standard form of this language, called Guoyu (traditional Chinese: 國語; simplified Chinese: 国语; pinyin: Guóyǔ; lit. 'National Language'), is the official national language of Taiwan taught in the education system and used in official communications. The core of this standard variety is described in the dictionary Guoyu Cidian (國語辭典) maintained by the Ministry of Education of Taiwan.[3] It is based on the phonology of the Beijing dialect together with the grammar of vernacular Chinese.[4] Guoyu closely resembles and is mutually intelligible with Standard Chinese (普通話; 普通话; Pǔtōnghuà), the official language of mainland China, with some divergences in pronunciation, vocabulary, and grammar.

"Taiwanese Mandarin" can also refer to the variety of Mandarin that departs from standard Guoyu, i.e., the non-standard form. The divergences are often the result of the influence of other languages in Taiwan, primarily Taiwanese Hokkien, and to a lesser extent Japanese and Taiwanese Hakka. This form of the language, while still mutually intelligible with Putonghua, exhibits greater discrepancies and is more colloquial and identifiably "Taiwanese" than spoken Guoyu.

All forms of Chinese in Taiwan are written in traditional characters. The PRC adopted simplified Chinese characters beginning in the 1950s, while Taiwan, along with Hong Kong and Macau, maintained the more complex set of characters from which simplified characters were derived.


Linguists have differentiated between Standard Guoyu, the formal, standardized form of Mandarin in Taiwan (標準國語 Biāozhǔn Guóyǔ, lit. "Standard National Language") and Taiwan(ese) Mandarin (臺灣國語 Táiwān Guóyǔ), which refers to Mandarin as is actually spoken, and includes much more influence from Southern Min, among other differences.[5][6] This is an example of diglossia. More formal occasions—such as television news broadcasts or in books—will generally use Guoyu, which much more closely resembles Putonghua, but this is not necessarily how the language is spoken day-to-day.[7]

More formal occasions call for the acrolectal, standard Guoyu. Less formal situations often result in the basilect, which has more uniquely Hokkien features. Bilingual speakers often code-switch between Mandarin and Hokkien, sometimes in the same sentence.[8]

History and usage

Large-scale Han Chinese settlement of Taiwan began in the 17th century with Hoklo immigrants from Fujian province speaking Southern Min (Hokkien), and to a lesser extent, Hakka immigrants speaking their language.[9] Official communications were done in Mandarin (官話 guānhuà, literally: 'official language'), but the primary languages of everyday life were Hokkien or to a lesser extent Hakka.[10] After its defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Qing dynasty ceded Taiwan to the Empire of Japan, which governed the island as an Imperial colony from 1895 to 1945. By the end of the colonial period, Japanese had become the high dialect of the island as the result of decades of Japanization policy.[10]

After the Republic of China under Kuomintang regained control of Taiwan in 1945, Mandarin was introduced as the official language and made compulsory in schools, despite the fact that few local Taiwanese spoke it.[11] The Mandarin Promotion Council (now called National Languages Committee) was established in 1946 by Taiwan Chief Executive Chen Yi to standardize and popularize the usage of Standard Mandarin in Taiwan. The Kuomintang highly discouraged the use of Hokkien and other vernaculars, even portraying them as inferior,[12] and school children could be punished for speaking their home languages.[11] Mandarin was thus established as a lingua franca among the various groups in Taiwan at the expense of other, preexisting Chinese languages.[13]

Mandarin remains the dominant language, but following the end of martial law in Taiwan in 1987, the country underwent a liberalization of language policy. Local languages were no longer proscribed in public discourse, mass media, or schools.[14] Mandarin is still the main language of public education, with English and "mother tongue education"(Chinese: 母語教育; pinyin: mǔyǔ jiàoyù) being introduced as subjects in primary school.[15] Mother tongue classes generally occupy much less time than Mandarin/Guoyu classes, however, and English classes are often preferred by parents and students over mother tongue classes.[16] Overall, while the government at both national and local levels has promoted the use of non-Mandarin Chinese languages, younger generations generally prefer using Mandarin.[17][18]

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 variety is not Hokkien, Mandarin is used in greater frequency and fluency than other parts of Taiwan. As of 2010, in addition to Mandarin, Hokkien is natively spoken by around 70% of the population, and Hakka by 15%.[19]


Taiwanese Mandarin uses traditional Chinese characters like in the two special administrative regions of China, Hong Kong and Macau, rather than the simplified Chinese characters used in mainland China.

Shorthand characters

Taiwanese Mandarin users may write informal, shorthand suzi (Chinese: 俗字; pinyin: súzì; lit. 'custom/conventional characters'; also 俗體字 sútǐzì), variant Chinese characters that are easier to write by hand. Often, suzi are identical to their simplified counterparts, but they may also take after Japanese kanji, or differ from both, as shown in the table below. Some suzi are used as frequently as standard characters in printed media, such as the tai in Taiwan being written (5 strokes), as opposed to the official traditional form, (14 strokes).[20]:251

Suzi [21] Standard traditional Notes
Identical to simplified (huì)
Identical to simplified ()
Identical to Japanese, cf. simplified ()
Differs from both simplified Chinese and Japanese , although is also a hyōgai kanji (diǎn)
Identical to Japanese, cf. simplified (tiě)


Taiwanese braille is based on different letter assignments than Mainland Chinese braille.


Chinese language romanization in Taiwan differs somewhat from in the mainland, where Hanyu Pinyin is used almost exclusively.[22] A competing pinyin system, Tongyong Pinyin, had been formally revealed in 1998 with the support of Taipei mayor Chen Shuibian.[23] In 1999, however, the Legislative Yuan endorsed a slightly modified Hanyu Pinyin, creating paralleled romanization schemes along largely partisan lines, with Kuomintang-supporting areas using Hanyu Pinyin, and Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) using Tongyong Pinyin.[23] In 2002, the Taiwanese government led by the DPP promulgated established Tongyong Pinyin as the country's preferred system, but this was formally abandoned in 2009 in favor of Hanyu Pinyin.[24]

In addition, various other historical romanization systems also coexist across the island, sometimes together in the same locality. Following the defeat of the Kuomintang and subsequent retreat to Taiwan, little emphasis was placed on romanizing Chinese characters, and the default was the Wade-Giles system.[25] The Gwoyeu Romatzyh method, invented in 1928, also was in use during this time period, but to a lesser extent.[25][26] In 1984, Taiwan's Ministry of Education began revising the Gwoyeu Romatzyh method out of concern that Hanyu Pinyin was gaining prominence internationally. Ultimately, a revised version of Gwoyeu Romatzyh was released in 1986,[25] formally called the National Phonetic Symbols, Second Scheme, but this was not widely adopted.[27]


Standard Guoyu

Like mainland Putonghua and all other Sinitic languages, Taiwanese Mandarin is tonal. Pronunciation of many individual characters differs in the standards prescribed by language authorities in Taipei and Beijing, usually in tone. Mainland authorities tend to prefer pronunciations popular in Northern Mandarin areas, whereas Taiwanese authorities prefer traditional pronunciations recorded in dictionaries from the 1930s and 1940s.[28]

The character-level differences notwithstanding, Guoyu pronunciation is largely identical to Putonghua, but with two major systematic differences:[29]

  • Erhua is rarely heard as a diminutive.
  • Isochrony is considerably more syllable-timed than in other Mandarin dialects (including Putonghua), which are stress-timed. Consequently, the "neutral tone" (輕聲 qīngshēng) does not occur as often, and the final syllable retains its tone.

Hokkien influence on non-standard form

In the more basilectal forms, Taiwanese Mandarin has been strongly influenced by Hokkien, especially in areas where Hokkien is more common, namely, Central and Southern Taiwan. The Hokkien-influenced Mandarin accent in Taiwan is generally similar to the Hokkien-influenced Mandarin accent in Minnan region of Fujian.

In basilectal Taiwanese Mandarin, sounds that do not occur in Hokkien are often replaced by sounds from Hokkien. 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):

  • The retroflex sounds (Pinyin: zh, ch, sh, r) from Putonghua tend to merge with the alveolar series (z, c, s), becoming more retracted versions of alveolar consonants like [t͡s̠ʰ][t͡s̠][s̠][z̠].[29][30]
  • Complete replacement of retroflex sounds (zh, ch, sh, r) by alveolar consonants (z, c, s, l). r may also become [z]. The ability to produce retroflex sounds is considered a hallmark of "good" Mandarin, and may be overcompensated in some speakers, causing them to pronounce alveolar consonants as their retroflex counterparts when attempting to speak "proper" Mandarin.[31] (e.g. 所以 suǒyǐshuǒyǐ)
  • f- becomes a voiceless bilabial fricative (⟨ɸ⟩), closer to a light 'h' in standard English (fǎn → huǎn 反 → 緩)[32] (This applies to native Hokkien speakers; Hakka speakers maintain precisely the opposite, e.g. huā → fā 花 → 發)
  • The syllable written as pinyin: eng ([əŋ]) after labials like b, f, m, p and w is pronounced as [oŋ].[33]
  • n and l sometimes become interchangeable, particularly preceding finals ending in nasals (-n, -ng)[33]
  • endings -uo, -ou, and -e (when it represents a close-mid back unrounded vowel, like in 喝 'to drink') merge into the close-mid back rounded vowel -o
  • -ie, ye becomes ei (tie → tei)[citation needed]
  • the close front rounded vowel in words such as 雨 'rain' become unrounded, transforming into [34][29]
  • the diphthong ei is monophthongized [e][34]
  • the triphthong [uei] (as in 對 duì 'right, correct') similarly becomes [ei] or [e][34]


Taiwanese Mandarin exhibits widespread, informal elision in its spoken form.[35] For instance, 這樣子 zhè yàngzi 'so, this way, like this' frequently elides into an utterance pronounced like 醬子 jiàngzi 'paste, sauce'; wherein the "theoretical" retroflex (so called because it is often not realized in everyday speech) is assimilated into the palatal glide [j].[36]

Often the elision involves the removal of initials in compound words, such as dropping the t in 今天 jīntiān 'today' or the ch in 非常 fēicháng 'extremely, very'.[37] Such elisions are not necessarily a function of speed of speech but rather register; it is much more common in casual conversation than in formal contexts.[36]

Differences from Mainland Mandarin

Standard pronunciations

In addition to elision and Hokkien influence, which are not codified in the standard Guoyu, there are pronunciation differences that arise from conflicting official standards in Taiwan and the mainland. These differences are primarily, but not exclusively, in the form of tone.

Official pronunciations given by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education are considered formal standards. The Ministry of Education tends to prefer language features traditional Beijing Mandarin, on which Guoyu is formally based, but these may not always reflect actual pronunciations commonly used by native Taiwanese Mandarin speakers.[38]

The following table is of common characters pronounced with different tones in Guoyu and Putonghua in all contexts:

Character (Simp.) Guoyu Putonghua Character (Simp.) Guoyu Putonghua
識 (识) shì shí
jiū jiù
擊 (击) 跡 (迹)
wéi wēi
dào dǎo

Rarer are characters with non-tonal phonemic differences. Some examples include:

Char. Guoyu Putonghua Char. Guoyu Putonghua Char. Guoyu Putonghua
yái guā kuò
顫 (颤) zhàn chàn zàn zhàn xiě xuè/xuě
shóu shú jìng jìn guā

Some differences are not universal and may be relevant only in certain contexts. The following is a list of examples of such differences from the Cross-strait language database:[39]

Taiwanese Mandarin
Mainland Mandarin
lèsè lājī The pronunciation of lèsè originates from Wu Chinese and was the common pronunciation in China before 1949.[citation needed] This is one of the few words where both characters are pronounced differently in Taiwan and the Mainland.

hàn,   The hàn pronunciation only applies when 和 is used as a conjunction; in words like 和平 hépíng 'peace' it is not pronounced hàn.
'to expose'
bào The pronunciation bào is used in all other contexts in Guoyu.
質量 (质量)

'mass; quality'

zhíliàng zhìliàng The noun is less commonly used to express 'quality' in Taiwan. 質 is pronounced as zhí in most contexts in Taiwain, except in select words like 'hostage' (人質 rénzhì) or 'to pawn' (質押 zhìyā).
髮型 (发型)


xíng xíng In Taiwan, ('hair') is pronounced as . The simplified form of 髮 is identical to that of the semantically unrelated 發  'to emit, send out'.


kǒu kǒuchī 吃 is only read in this specific context.


Guoyu and Putonghua share a large majority of their vocabulary, but significant differences do exist. Some, but not all, of these differences may affect mutual understanding between speakers of the respective dialects. These differences can be classified in one of several ways: same word, different meaning (同實異名); same meaning, different word (同實異名); and words referring to concepts specific to either Taiwan or the mainland (臺詞 and 陸詞, respectively, in the Cross-Straits Dictionary).

Differing usage or preference

Guoyu and Putonghua speakers may display strong preference for one of a set of synonyms. For example, both jièjù 借據 and jiètiáo 借條 refer to an IOU in either dialect, but Taiwanese tend to use jièjù, and mainland speakers prefer jiètiáo.[40] Additionally, words with the same meaning and usage might have different grammatical features. The verb bāngmáng 幫忙 'to help' in Taiwanese Mandarin can take a direct object, which is ungrammatical in Standard Mandarin[40]—我幫忙他 'I help him' and must be rendered as 我帮他的忙 in mainland Mandarin.

Likewise, words with the same literal meaning in Putonghua may differ in register from Guoyu. For instance, éryǐ 而已 'that's all, only' is very common in Guoyu both spoken and written, influenced by speech patterns in Hokkien, but in Standard Chinese the word primarily appears in formal writing, not spoken language.[41]

The following table highlights some terms where one or more of a particular set of synonyms is strongly preferred in either Guoyu or Putonghua.

Term Guoyu Putonghua
tomato fānqié (番茄), literally "foreign eggplant" xīhóngshì (西红柿), literally "western red persimmon"
(番茄 - fānqié is the preferred term in southern China)
bicycle jiǎotàchē (腳踏車), literally "pedaling/foot-stamp vehicle", tiémǎ (鐵馬), literally "metal horse" zìxíngchē (自行车), literally "self-propelled vehicle"
(脚踏车 - jiǎotàchē is the preferred term in Wu-speaking areas)
(单车 - dānchē is the preferred term in southern China)
kindergarten yòuzhìyuán (幼稚園),
(loanword from Japanese yōchien 幼稚園)
yòu'éryuán (幼儿园)
pineapple fènglí (鳳梨) bōluó (菠萝)
dress liánshēnqún (連身裙), yángzhuāng (洋裝), literally "western clothing" liányīqún (连衣裙), qúnzi (裙子)
hotel 飯店 (fàndiàn) lit. 'food store' 酒店 (jĭudiàn) lit. 'alcohol store'
Mandarin 國語 (guóyŭ) 'national language', 華語 (huáyŭ) 'Chinese language', 中文 (zhōngwén) 'Chinese language' 普通话 (pŭtōnghuà) 'common speech'

This also applies in the use of some function words. Preference for the expression of modality often differs among northern Mandarin speakers and Taiwanese, as evidenced by the selection of modal verbs. Compared to native speakers from Beijing, Taiwanese Mandarin users very strongly prefer 要 yào and 不要 búyào over 得 děi and 別 bié to express 'must' and 'must not', for instance, though both pairs are grammatical in either dialect.[42]

Same word, different meaning

Some terms have different meanings in Taiwan and 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.

Word/phrase Guoyu meaning Putonghua meaning Notes Ref
油品(yóupǐn) Oils (cooking, etc.) Petroleum products [43]
影集(yǐngjí) TV series Photo album [43]
土豆(tǔdòu) peanut potato Mǎlíngshǔ (馬鈴薯), another synonym for potato, is also used in both dialects. Huāshēng (花生), the Putonghua term for peanut, is an acceptable synonym in Guoyu. [43][44]
公車(gōngchē) bus government vehicle 公共汽車 gōnggòng qìchē is unambiguous for both dialects. [43]
窩心(wōxīn) to feel warm and cozy to feel irritated, hold a grudge [43]
愛人(àirén) lover spouse [43][44]

Same meaning, different word

The political separation of Taiwan (formally, the Republic of China, ROC) and mainland China (formally, the People's Republic of China, PRC) after the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 contributed to many differences in vocabulary. This is especially prominent with respect to words and phrases referring to things invented after the split, which frequently have totally different names in Guoyu and Putonghua.[45] Thus, scientific and technological terminology shows especially great variance between Putonghua and both Standard Guoyu and non-standard Taiwanese Mandarin.

In computer science, for instance, the differences are prevalent enough to hinder communication.[45][46] Zhang (2000) selected four hundred core nouns from computer science and found 58.25% are identical in Standard and Taiwanese Mandarin, while 21.75% were "basically" or "entirely" different.[47]

As cross-strait relations began to improve in the early 21st century, direct interaction between mainland Chinese and Taiwanese increased, and some vocabulary began to merge, especially by means of the Internet.[48] For example, the words píngjǐng 瓶頸 'bottleneck (in a production process, etc.)' and zuòxiù 作秀 'to grandstand, show off' were originally unique to Taiwanese Mandarin, but have since become widely used in mainland China.[48] Likewise, Taiwanese Mandarin users have incorporated mainland phrases and speech patterns as well. For example, Taiwanese Mandarin traditionally uses the word guǎndào 管道 for a figurative "channel" (as in "communications channel", etc.), as opposed to qúdào 渠道 in the mainland, but qúdào has become common in Taiwan as well.[49]

The following is a small selection of vocabulary items that distinct separate in Guoyu and Putonghua.

Meaning Guoyu Putonghua Notes Ref
Internet/network 網路(wǎnglù) 网络(wǎngluò) [50]
Briefcase 公事包(gōngshìbāo) 公文包(gōngwénbāo) [51]
Salmon 鮭魚(guīyú) 三文鱼(sānwényú) The latter is a transliteration of English. [51]
Yogurt 優格(yōugé) 酸奶酪(suānnǎilào) The former is a transliteration from English. [52]
Taxi 計程車(jìchéngchē) 出租车(chūzūchē) In Hong Kong Cantonese, the term is dik1 si6 (的士), a loan from English), which has influenced Putonghua; taking a cab is called dǎdī (打的). [53]
bento 便當(biàndāng) 盒饭(héfàn) The Japanese word is originally an adaptation (Wasei-kango) of 便當, a literary Chinese word for "convenient" (see 便當). Héfàn is descriptive (lit. case-meal). [54]

In some cases, the same word might carry slightly different connotations or usage patterns, and may be polysemous in one form of Mandarin but not the other. For example, lǒngluò 籠絡 in Taiwan's Guoyu means 'to convince, win over', but in mainland Putonghua, it carries a negative connotation[55] (cf. 'beguile, coax'). Kuāzhāng 誇張 means 'to exaggerate,' but in Taiwan, it can also be used to express exclamation at something absurd or overdone, e.g., "(他們) 居然到現在還沒回來, 是不是太誇張了" '(They) still haven't even come back yet, isn't that absurd?'[40]

Words specific to Taiwanese Mandarin

Authors of the Cross-Straits Dictionary (《两岸差异词词典》) estimate there are about 2000 words unique to Taiwanese Mandarin, around 10% of which come from Hokkien.[56] Likewise, Standard Mandarin in the mainland has vocabulary that is unknown in Taiwan.

Some of these vocabulary differences stem from different social, political, and other conditions or concepts not present in the other area, e.g. fúcǎi 福彩, a common abbreviation for the China Welfare Lottery of the People's Republic of China, or shíbāpā 十八趴, which refers to the 18% preferential interest rate on civil servants' pension funds in Taiwan.[55] (趴 pā used as "percent" also being unique to Taiwanese Mandarin.)

Additionally, many terms unique to Taiwanese Mandarin were adopted from Japanese both as a result of its close proximity (to Okinawa) as well as Taiwan's status as a Japanese territory in the first half of the 20th century.[citation needed]

In other cases, the concepts might exist in both China and Taiwan, but one side might not have a specific term for it; for example, 'flight safety' is commonly abbreviated as fēi'ān 飛安 in Taiwan, but this term is not used in the mainland.[55]


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.[citation needed]

In informal writing, Taiwanese Mandarin speakers may replace possessive particles de 的 or zhī 之 with the Japanese particle no の in hiragana (usually read as de), which serves a nearly identical grammatical role.[57] No is often used in advertising, where it evokes a sense of playfulness and fashionability,[57] and handwriting, because it is easier to write.[58]

Loan words

Loan words may differ between Putonghua and Taiwanese Mandarin. Different characters or methods may also be chosen for transliteration (phonetical or semantical), even the number of characters may differ. For example, former U.S. President Barack Obama's surname is called 奥巴馬 Àobāmǎ in Putonghua and 歐巴馬 or 歐巴瑪 Ōubāmǎ in Guoyu.

From Taiwanese Hokkien

The terms "阿公 agōng" and "阿媽 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 Hokkien names. These include:

Hokkien (mixed script) Pe̍h-ōe-jī (POJ) IPA English
礤冰[59]/chhoah冰[60][note 1] chhoah-peng [tsʰuaʔ˥˧piŋ˥] baobing: shaved ice with sliced fresh fruit on top (usually strawberry, kiwi or mango)
麻糍[59]/麻糬[60] môa-chî [mua˧tɕi˧˥] glutinous rice cakes (see mochi)
蚵仔煎 ô-á-chian Southern Min pronunciation: [o˧a˥tɕiɛn˥] oyster omelette

List of Taiwanese Hokkien words commonly found in local Mandarin-language newspapers and periodicals:

As seen in two popular newspapers[note 2] Hokkien (POJ) Mandarin equivalent (Pinyin) English
China Times
Liberty Times
Southern Min pronunciation: [aʔ˥˧pa˨˩]
a local tyrant; a bully
China Times
Liberty Times
( (lo) -bà-khā)
Southern Min pronunciation: [lopa˨˩ka]
incompetent; foolish person; a person whose ability is unmatched with those around him. (compare to baka)
China Times
Liberty Times
(adj, adv) obstinate(ly), tense (as of singing/performing)
China Times
Liberty Times
to like
見笑[note 3]
China Times
Liberty Times
shy; bashful; sense of shame
China Times
Liberty Times
to end up with nothing
龜毛[note 4]
China Times
Liberty Times
(bù gāncuì)
picky; high-maintenance
Q 𩚨[59]
軟潤有彈性(ruǎn rùn yǒu tánxìng)
description for food—soft and pliable (like mochi cakes)
China Times
Liberty Times
[lau˨˩ kʰɔk˥kʰɔk˩]
old and senile
China Times
Liberty Times
to muck around
China Times
Liberty Times
I beg your pardon; I am sorry; Excuse me.
China Times
Liberty Times
(adj) well-suited to each other
China Times
Liberty Times
an event; a matter; an affair
China Times
Liberty Times
(shòu bù liǎo)
(dǎng bù zhù)
1can not bear something
²compelled to do something
China Times
Liberty Times
to win an election[note 5]
China Times
Liberty Times
(thâu-khak pháiⁿ-khì)
Southern Min pronunciation: [tʰau˧kʰak˥pʰãi˥˧kʰi˨˩]
(nǎojīn yǒu wèntí)
(you have/he has) lost (your/his) mind!
China Times
Liberty Times
(thut-chhôe / thut-chhê)
to go off the rails; to go wrong
China Times
Liberty Times
driver (of automotive vehicles; from Japanese unchan (運ちゃん), slang for untenshi (運転士), see (運転手))
China Times
Liberty Times
depressed; sulky; unhappy; moody
From Japanese

Japanese loanwords based on phonetics, transliterated using Chinese characters with similar pronunciation in Mandarin or Taiwanese Hokkien.

Japanese (Romaji) Taiwanese Mandarin[62] (Pinyin) English
気持ち (kimochi) 奇檬子 (qíméngzǐ)[note 6] Mood; Feeling.
おばさん (obasan) 歐巴桑 (ōubāsāng)[note 7] Old lady; Auntie.
おでん (oden) 黑輪 (hēilún)[note 8] A type of stewed flour-based snack/sidedish.
おじさん (ojisan) 歐吉桑 (ōujísāng)[note 9] Old man; Uncle.
オートバイ (ōtobai) 歐多拜 (ōuduōbài) motorcycle ("autobike", from "autobicycle").

Technical terms

Taiwanese Mandarin (Pinyin)
Google hits: .tw
Google hits: .cn
Mainland Chinese Mandarin (Pinyin)
Google hits: .tw
Google hits: .cn
部落格 (bùluògé)
.tw: 3,240,000
.cn: 120,000
博客 (bókè)
.tw: 1,090,000
.cn: 8,470,000
光碟 (guāngdié)
.tw: 2,930,000
.cn: 735,000
光盘 (guāngpán)
.tw: 29,300
.cn: 7,310,000
Optical disc
滑鼠 (huáshǔ)
.tw: 1,320,000
.cn: 381,000
鼠标 (shǔbiāo)
.tw: 54,500
.cn: 10,200,000
mouse (computing)
加護病房 (jiāhùbìngfáng)
.tw: 101,000
.cn 14,800
监护病房 (jiānhùbìngfáng)
.tw 704
.cn 41,600
Intensive Care Unit (ICU); Intensive Treatment Unit (ITU)
雷射 (léishè)
.tw: 811,000
.cn: 131,000
激光 (jīguāng)
.tw: 129,000
.cn: 4,540,000
錄影機 (lùyǐngjī)
.tw: 156,000
.cn: 42,700
录像机 (lùxiàngjī)
.tw: 2,950
.cn: 706,000
videocassette recorder
軟體 (ruǎntǐ)
.tw: 10,200,000
.cn: 983,000
软件 (ruǎnjiàn)
.tw: 569,000
.cn: 51,900,000
(網際)網路 ([wǎngjì] wǎnglù)
.tw: 438,000
.cn: 75,000
互联网 (hùliánwǎng), 網絡 (wǎngluo)
.tw: 75,900
.cn: 6,830,000
印表機 (yìnbiǎojī)
.tw: 522,000
.cn: 96,300
打印机 (dǎyìnjī)
.tw: 7,690
.cn: 4,940,000
computer printer
硬碟 (yìngdié)
.tw: 1,460,000
.cn: 550,000
硬盘 (yìngpán)
.tw: 37,800
.cn: 10,700,000
Hard disk
螢幕 (yíngmù)
.tw: 3,810,000
.cn: 339,000
显示器 (xiǎnshìqì)
.tw: 631,000
.cn: 8,480,000
computer monitor (螢幕 is the equivalent of "screen (noun)" in English, while 显示 means "to display" in English)
資料庫 (zīliàokù)
.tw: 5,050,000
.cn: 2,190,000
数据库 (shùjùkù)
.tw: 70,200
.cn: 13,800,000
資訊 (zīxùn)
.tw: 8,220,000
.cn: 9,460,000
信息 (xìnxī)
.tw: 317,000
.cn: 13,600,000
作業系統 (zuòyè xìtǒng)
.tw: 1,830,000
.cn: 177,000
操作系统 (cāozuò xìtǒng)
.tw: 97,900
.cn: 6,930,000
operating system

Idioms and proverbs

Taiwanese Mandarin (Pinyin)
Google hits: .tw
Google hits: .cn
Mainland Chinese Mandarin (Pinyin)
Google hits: .tw
Google hits: .cn
一蹴可幾 (yī cù kě jī)
.tw: 10,700
.cn: 1,320
一蹴而就 (yī cù ér jiù)
.tw: 3,680
.cn: 309,000
to reach a goal in one step
一覽無遺 (yī lǎn wú yí)
.tw: 75,800
.cn: 184,000
一览无余 (yī lǎn wú yú)
.tw: 2,530
.cn: 373,000
to take in everything at a glance
入境隨俗 (rù jìng suí sú)
.tw: 22,400
.cn: 7,940
入乡随俗 (rù xiāng suí sú)
.tw: 1,980
.cn 144,000
When in Rome, do as the Romans do.
.tw: 39,900
.cn: 18,100
.tw: 49,300
.cn 579,000


For non-recurring events, the construction involving (yǒu) is used where the sentence final particle (le) would normally be applied to denote perfect. For instance, Taiwanese Mandarin more commonly uses "你有看醫生嗎?" to mean "Have you seen a doctor?" whereas Putonghua uses "你看医生了吗?". This is due to the influence of Hokkien grammar, which uses (ū) in a similar fashion. For recurring or certain events, however, both Taiwanese and Mainland Mandarin use the latter, as in "你吃饭了吗?", meaning "Have you eaten?"

Another example of Hokkien grammar's influence on both Guoyu and Taiwan Mandarin[note 10] is the use of (huì) as "to be" (a copula) before adjectives, in addition to the usual meanings "would" or "will". Compare typical ways to render "Are you hot?" and "I am (not) hot" in Putonghua, Guoyu, and Taiwanese Hokkien:[63][64]

Putonghua: 你熱不 (熱) (Nǐ rè bù (rè))? — 我不熱 (Wǒ bù rè)
Taiwanese Mandarin: 你會不會熱 (Nǐ hùi bù hùi rè)? — 我不會熱 (Wǒ bù hùi rè)
Taiwanese Hokkien: 你會熱嘸 (Lí ē jia̍t bô)? — 我袂寒 (Guá bē jia̍t)


  1. ^ Often written using the Mandarin equivalent 刨冰, but pronounced using the Taiwanese Hokkien word.
  2. ^ Google hits from the China Times (中時電子報) and Liberty Times (自由時報) are included.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ Many people in Taiwan will use the Mandarin pronunciation (guīmáo).
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Derived from Taiwanese 起毛-chih (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: khí-mo͘-chih; [ki˧mɔ˥ʑi˧]. See 起毛).
  7. ^ Most people in Taiwan will use the Taiwanese pronunciation (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: o·-bá-sáng; Southern Min pronunciation: [ɔ˧ba˥saŋ˥˧]).
  8. ^ Derived from Hokkien 烏輪 (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: o͘-lián; Southern Min pronunciation: [ɔ˧liɛn˥˧])
  9. ^ Most people in Taiwan will use the Taiwanese pronunciation (Pe̍h-ōe-jī: o·-jí-sáng; Southern Min pronunciation: [ɔ˧ʑi˥saŋ˥˧]).
  10. ^ Neither Yang (2007) nor Sanders (1992) explicitly delineate between Guoyu and the divergent Taiwan Mandarin. While the usage of 會 described here is heavily influenced by Southern Min, it is still used in official sources; see e.g. the Ministry of Education's dictionary entry for 會, which includes an example sentence 「他會來嗎?」(cf. Putonghua “他來不來?)


  1. ^ Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) at Ethnologue (18th ed., 2015)
  2. ^ Mandarin Chinese (Taiwan) at Ethnologue (14th ed., 2000).
  3. ^ "首頁 > 凡例 > 本辭典編輯首頁 > 凡例 > 本辭典編輯目標" (in Chinese). 本辭典係以正編為基礎,企能編輯成一本簡易且符合實用的工具書,建立今日(五年以內)國語形音義的使用標準,並附上常用易混名物及概念等插圖,以利教學及海內外一般人士研習國語文所需。
  4. ^ Chen, Ping (1999). Modern Chinese: History and Sociolinguistics. New York: Cambridge University Press. p. 22. ISBN 978-0-521-64572-0.
  5. ^ Shi, Feng; Deng, Dan (2006). "普通話與台灣國語的語音對比" [Phonetic Comparison of Putonghua and Taiwan Guoyu] (PDF). In He, Da'an; Zhang, Hongnian; Pan, Wuyun; Wu, Fuxiang (eds.). 山高水長:丁邦新先生七秩壽慶論文集 [High Mountains and Long Rivers: Essays Celebrating the 70th Birthday of Pang-hsin Ting] (in Chinese). Taipei: Academia Sinica Institute of Linguistics. p. 372. ISBN 978-986-00-7941-8. OCLC 137224557. "Gu Baili (1985, cited in Chiu-chung Liao (1989) in researching the status of languages in Taiwan classified the lingua franca of Taiwan into two, namely 'Standard Mandarin' (標準國語) and 'Taiwan Mandarin' (台灣國語) [English in original]. Standard Mandarin refers to the language used in formal writing and television broadcasts, which in essence is Northern Mandarin absent more extreme dialect elements and features. It is the form of the language promoted as a shared tongue in the mainland and Taiwan, and is largely identical to Putonghua. Taiwan Mandarin refers to is the common language spoken by Taiwanese and mainland descendants in Taiwan under thirty who have received at least a high school education. The influence of Southern Min, has produced differences from standard Putonghua in onsets and rimes, tone, vocabulary, and syntax. This text is concerned with Taiwan Mandarin as described by Gu, the form of Guoyu influenced by Southern Min." [Original: 顧百里(1985,轉引自廖秋忠 1989)在研究台灣語言的現狀時,把台灣的通用語分為兩種,即 “Standard Mandarin”(標準國語)和“Taiwan Mandarin”(台灣國語)。“標準國語"指用於正規的書面語言以及電視廣播中的通用語,基本上是北京方言減去帶極端口語味道的地方特徵,是大陸和台灣都作為共同語來推行的言語形式,和大陸的普通話基本一致。“台灣國語"指在台灣三十歲以下至少受過高中教育的台灣籍和大陸籍人士所說的通用語,也就是因受閩南話影響而聲、韻、調以及詞彙、句法方面與標準普通話產生某些差異的語言。本文以顧文所說的“台灣國語",即受閩南話影響的台灣國語為研究對象。"]CS1 maint: date and year (link) CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  6. ^ Brubaker, Brian Lee (2003). The Normative Standard of Mandarin in Taiwan: An Analysis in Variation of Metapragmatic Discourse (PDF) (Ph.D. thesis). University of Pittsburgh. ISBN 978-1-2677-6168-2. Brubaker refers to the standard form as Standard Mandarin, and the basilectal form as Taiwan-guoyu.CS1 maint: postscript (link)
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  8. ^ Chiu, Miao-chin (April 2012). "Code-switching and Identity Constructions in Taiwan TV Commercials" (PDF). Monumenta Taiwanica. 5. Retrieved 24 May 2020.
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  28. ^ Chen 1999, pp. 46–47.
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  32. ^ Kubler 1985, p. 157.
  33. ^ a b Chen 1999, p. 48.
  34. ^ a b c Kubler 1985, p. 160.
  35. ^ Chung, Karen Steffen (January 2006). "Contraction and Backgrounding in Taiwan Mandarin" (PDF). Concentric: Studies in Linguistics. 32 (1): 69–88. Retrieved 5 July 2020.
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  37. ^ Chung 2006, pp. 75-77.
  38. ^ "熱「ㄋㄠˋ」改「ㄋㄠ˙」 教育部字典被網罵:演古裝劇?" ["'Rènào' to 'rènao'—Ministry of Education Dictionary criticized online: Are they pretending to be in some period piece?]. ETtoday (in Chinese). 27 February 2018. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
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  40. ^ a b c Li 2015, p. 343.
  41. ^ Kubler 1985, p. 171.
  42. ^ Sanders 1992, p. 289.
  43. ^ a b c d e f "同名異實". MoeDict Cross-Strait Dictionary. Taipei: Ministry of Education of the Republic of China.
  44. ^ a b "兩岸用語對照表(二)". People's Daily Online (in Chinese). People's Daily. 24 October 2020. Archived from the original on 28 March 2020. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  45. ^ a b Yao, Qian (September 2014). "Analysis of Computer Terminology Translation Differences between Taiwan and Mainland China". Advanced Materials Research. 1030–1032: 1650–1652. doi:10.4028/www.scientific.net/AMR.1030-1032.1650. S2CID 136508776.
  46. ^ Zhang, Wei (2000). "海峡两岸计算机名词异同浅析" [Analyses about the Similarities and Differences of Computer Terms Used in Two Sides of Taiwan Straits] (PDF). China Terminology. 4 (2): 38. Retrieved 1 December 2020. "With the growing frequency of scientific and technological exchange and commerce among the mainland and Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau ... people increasingly feel that the differences in computer terminology (hereafter referred to as cross-strait terms) on both sides of the Taiwan Strait have become a sizable hindrance affecting normal work." [随着大陆与台湾、香港、澳门 ... 的科技交流、商贸活动的日益频繁,人们越来越感到海峡两岸计算机名词(以下简称两岸名词)的差异,已成为一个不小的障碍,影响着正常的业务工作。]CS1 maint: postscript (link)
  47. ^ Zhang 2000, p. 40. "[I] Sampled basic nouns beginning with a handful of English letters in order to further verify the classification principles and the numbers of various nouns. Through analysis [I] drew out the number and proportion of various nouns: identical nouns account for 58.25% of the total, basically identical nouns for 20% of the total, basically different nouns for 10.25% of the total, and entirely different nouns for 11.5% of the total." [抽取几个英文字头的基本名词,以便进一步验证分类原则及各类名词的数量。通过分析,得出了各类名词的数量及其比例关系:完全相同名词占总数58.25%,基本相同名词占总数20%,基本不同名词占总数10.25%,完全不同名词占总数11.5%。]
  48. ^ a b Li 2015, p. 344.
  49. ^ Chien, Amy Chang (22 September 2017). ""项目"、"视频":台湾人不会讲的中国话". New York Times.
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Further resources

Transliteration and romanization of Hokkien done with reference to:

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