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is the chinese language spoken in taiwan same with the language spoken in china (mandarin only)?


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Hi all,

I contacted a taiwanese association and heard from them that the language learning or they speak there was same with chinese mandarin,is this correct or taiwanese dialect is another dialect? note please I imply here every aspect of language in use (i.e. listening / reading / writing / speaking)

 

Thanks

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Yes. Taiwanese Mandarin (not to be confused with Taiwanese/Hokkien) is the same language as Mainland Mandarin. The differences are so small they can be compared to dialects in other languages. The writing systems are different in that Taiwanese use traditional characters. However, once you know one set of characters well enough, the transition is quite painless. The characters and words that are pronounced completely different are extremely few percentage wise. The variations within China are much bigger than the variations between Chinese and Taiwanese Mandarin.

 

If the reason you are asking is that you are afraid learning Taiwanese Mandarin is going to hinder your understanding of Mainland Chinese, then I would say don't worry, it won't.

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Essentially yes, they are the same. But like languages everywhere, there are local accents and minor variations in vocabulary. Similar to British and American english, for example.

 

By the way, there are variations in the accent and vocabulary of mandarin speakers on the mainland depending on which region they are from also, so Taiwan is not an exception in this regard.

 

In terms of reading and writing, Taiwan uses traditional characters whereas the mainland uses simplified. This is probably the biggest difference, but is a matter of graphical representation only. The underlying language is still the same.

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In both China and Taiwan, the official national language is Mandarin. If you learn Mandarin in one country, you can completely make yourself understood in the other one when speaking. You will have to get used to the local accent when listening, but you will adjust soon enough. In speaking and listening, the difference is comparable to the difference between British English and American English, or Dutch Dutch and Belgian Dutch. As to reading and writing, as others mentioned, China uses simplified characters and Taiwan uses traditional characters. That is a real difference, but once you've learned to read and write in one set, it doesn't take much time to learn the other set.

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I've noticed some interesting differences in terms of accent, like:

 

shi --> si
eng --> en

ran --> lan

zhong --> zong
er --> e


Is that a kind of Taiwanese accent, or am I mistaken? I've also had friends from Fujian who talk like that, and it's quite an adjustment for me. In a language like English, dropping the "g" sound (like saying "sittin'" rather than "sitting") isn't too challenging to understand. But zhong/zong, sheng/shen, ran/lan, shi/si, etc., sound like completely different words to a foreigner like me! :) 

I chose mainland Mandarin (and simplified characters) out of sheer pragmatism (i.e., more people use it), but I really really want to learn traditional characters and engage more with Taiwanese content. I can read some traditional stuff, but when I need a convenient way to train my listening skills with subtitles, trying to work through traditional subtitles is still a bit cumbersome. It's still a goal of mine, though!

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On 7/15/2022 at 7:43 PM, Woodford said:

Is that a kind of Taiwanese accent, or am I mistaken?

 

Yes. You'll find the same accents on the Mainland (like you hinted at), but they are definitely part of the Taiwanese dialect. There are more alterations, like zhi becoming zi. I never found simplified and traditional to be a big issue, I don't know how many characters I know exactly, but out of the 4000-ish characters I know, I know them both in simplified and traditional. The transition is really simple once you get to it.


Personally, I still have much more trouble with a thick Beijing dialect.

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On 7/15/2022 at 1:50 PM, Insectosaurus said:

Personally, I still have much more trouble with a thick Beijing dialect.

 

I think I have improved through the years (because a lot of what i listen to comes from Beijing), but a lot of the words felt totally buried underneath all the 儿 sounds. I can relate!

I have a feeling the traditional characters should be easy enough (especially if I only learn to read them, rather than write them). The only characters that will give me trouble are the ones that look nothing like their simplified counterparts. 

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On 7/15/2022 at 9:30 PM, Woodford said:

The only characters that will give me trouble are the ones that look nothing like their simplified counterparts. 

 

I can only tell you they're not as many as most people think, and most of them are some of the most frequent ones and therefore will be solved by repetition.

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