My wife (Taiwanese) and I (not Taiwanese) had a Korean meal tonight (sublime). We’ve noticed that Korean food is very popular with Chinese exchange students, though it doesn’t seem to go the other way (Koreans think Chinese food is greasy and tasteless–there’s a smidgeon of truth to that).
We’re in Southern Ontario (not Toronto).
Tonight the young Chinese couple sitting at the table next to us were chatting away about this and that. A typical scene. However, their accents, and the manner in which they spoke, was not. In the last six years here in Ontario since having returned from Taiwan I’ve become accustomed to the “rounded tongues” of mainlander accents, as Taiwanese are comparatively thin on the ground. I’ve also gotten used to their coarser manners. But tonight the couple sitting next to us chatted in lower tones, and in a more refined manner, about the various languages people in their ESL class spoke, the nuances of Korean food, etc. I understood everything, and experienced a shock of familiarity that I hadn’t had in a while.
Why, why…they were Taiwanese!
There’s a pleasing, smooth lilt to Taiwanese Mandarin that you don’t hear from mainlanders, it seems. I think I’m finally beginning to understand why Taiwanese Mandarin is considered by many people in China to be kind of cool.