Anyone learning Taiwanese? (Native speakers welcome, too)

Just an FYI, I started a subreddit a while ago but there’s not a whole lot of activity (as you might guess, considering the number of people who actually want to learn this language). Recently, however, I started a Youtube channel going through the basics, and am also posting song lyrics up with the correct Taiwanese characters (and romanization!) so feel free to stop by.

Would love any other contributions - learning material, websites/news in Taiwanese, etc. Requests for materials welcome, too.

多謝逐家!
(To-siā ta̍k-ke!)

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For the initials, I think you could do another one clearing up the differences between b and p, by giving examples of the two with the same finals. For example, compare how 欲 beh and 伯 peh, 無 bô and 婆 pô, 茫 bâng and 縫 pâng are different. Same thing can be done for the g and k initials.

For English speakers at least, they are allophones and can be pretty discouraging to not be able to tell them apart. Many young Taiwanese these days tend to mix them up as well.

Can anyone help me with the correct transliteration (with whatever official system there is) of the Minnan terms for oyster omelet (e a jen?) and oyster vermicelli (e a mi sua?)

do sia!

[quote=“hannes”]Can anyone help me with the correct transliteration (with whatever official system there is) of the Minnan terms for oyster omelet (e a jen?) and oyster vermicelli (e a mi sua?)

do sia![/quote]

Oyster Omlete:
蚵仔煎
ô-á-tsian
[ə a tsiɛn] most common pronunciation. Some do tsian like it’s spelt, [tsian]. Some do o as [ɔ], especially in Taipei.

Oyster vermicelli
蚵仔麵線
ô-á-mī-suann
[ə a mi suã] most common pronunciation. That thing about the IPA [ã] is a tilde, signifying a nasal vowel. Some do o as [ɔ], especially in Taipei.

[quote=“hansioux”][quote=“hannes”]Can anyone help me with the correct transliteration (with whatever official system there is) of the Minnan terms for oyster omelet (e a jen?) and oyster vermicelli (e a mi sua?)

do sia![/quote]

Oyster Omlete:
蚵仔煎
ô-á-tsian
[ə a tsiɛn] most common pronunciation. Some do tsian like it’s spelt, [tsian]. Some do o as [ɔ], especially in Taipei.

Oyster vermicelli
蚵仔麵線
ô-á-mī-suann
[ə a mi suã] most common pronunciation. That thing about the IPA [ã] is a tilde, signifying a nasal vowel. Some do o as [ɔ], especially in Taipei.[/quote]

thanks hãnsiôux!

And what system is that, the 臺灣閩南語羅馬字拼音方案(Tâi-uân Bân-lâm-gí Lô-má-jī Phing-im Hong-àn)?

[quote=“hannes”]
thanks hãnsiôux!

And what system is that, the 臺灣閩南語羅馬字拼音方案(Tâi-uân Bân-lâm-gí Lô-má-jī Phing-im Hong-àn)?[/quote]

yup, I use Tailo because I think it is better designed, and doesn’t hurt that it is mostly IPA compliant.

It’s said that originally it was just 台語羅馬字拼音方案, but since Ma took office, he just had to add the Ban-lam-gi part.

That should probably be [ə ɑ ʦɛn] for SC (Southern Common) or [o ɑ ʨʲɛn] for NC (Northern Common), and I’ve definitely never heard [tsian] - where have you heard that? SC speakers don’t generally put the [i] or [ʲ] in any “-ian” syllables, so “lian” [lɛn], “bian” [bɛn], etc. The “o” is [o] in NC, while “oo” is [ɔ] (in all dialects, afaik). (Also a = ɑ.)

[quote=“hansioux”]For the initials, I think you could do another one clearing up the differences between b and p, by giving examples of the two with the same finals. For example, compare how 欲 beh and 伯 peh, 無 bô and 婆 pô, 茫 bâng and 縫 pâng are different. Same thing can be done for the g and k initials.

For English speakers at least, they are allophones and can be pretty discouraging to not be able to tell them apart. Many young Taiwanese these days tend to mix them up as well.[/quote]

This could definitely be a topic in a future video, along with g/k and the j sound in more detail. I’m not too concerned about the nitty gritty at the moment though, for the next ~dozen videos at least I want to keep going with a broader brush to get people the basics of pinyin, pronunciation, tones, and some sentence structure with common patterns/verbs/nouns/etc. I think going back to some of the details later on once a better foundation is there makes a lot of sense - not too late that it’s already fossilized, but not too early that it’s not useful. Personally, I found that it was much easier to practice my b’s and p’s once I was already speaking enough to have meaningful conversations and the enunciation of voicing/devoicing actually made a difference.

In general the reasoning for me doing these videos is that a lot of resources I saw were either too focused on some detail (like all the different pronunciations of a word in different areas, like in academic papers), or too generic (just listing sentences with no attention to detail on characters, pinyin, grammaticality, etc.), so I’m going for something that I hope is a bit more useful for learning the language in a more structured way.

This is the kind of stuff I’ve got planned so far, with the pronunciation series almost done (needs to be done first, for obvious reasons):

[ul]
[li]Pronunciation - Initials, finals, tones, sandhi (future would include stuff like b/p, g/k, j)[/li]
[li]Vocabulary - Numbers, places in Taiwan, food, etc.[/li]
[li]Grammar - tons of stuff here: parts of speech, sentence patterns, etc.[/li]
[li]Conversation - Short (scripted) conversations with local native speakers, with transcript/translation and commentary[/li][/ul]

I’m not sure what other people have used to learn Taiwanese, but it’s taken me years compared to Mandarin simply due to the dearth of resources and necessity of finding local people who are knowledgeable enough in the language to practice with, so I want to try to compile all that “experience” down to the important bits so other people can get up and running right away.

Not sure if you’re up for it, but if your Taiwanese is good enough to help me write/proofread scripts that would be excellent! :slight_smile:

(Also, I’ve been learning bits and pieces of Hakka for a short while now and would probably do something similar for that once my Hakka is “good enough,” probably in another few years though haha.)

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[quote=“greves”]

That should probably be [ə ɑ ʦɛn] for SC (Southern Common) or [o ɑ ʨʲɛn] for NC (Northern Common), and I’ve definitely never heard [tsian] - where have you heard that? SC speakers don’t generally put the [i] or [ʲ] in any “-ian” syllables, so “lian” [lɛn], “bian” [bɛn], etc. The “o” is [o] in NC, while “oo” is [ɔ] (in all dialects, afaik). (Also a = ɑ.)[/quote]

The ian -> iɛn -> ɛn sound change seems to be a result of Mandarin influence. Some of the older generation will say ian as it is. I know people who say 電 tiān as it is spelt, as opposed to how newer generations would say it (tɛn). Typically as you’ve categorized, NC kept the i, and SC didn’t. The sound change from ian to ɛn is non-uniform, leaving some words sounding more like ian, some words more like iɛn, and some more like ɛn.

There’s a article in Taiwanese about this sound change by a Taiwanese linguist (professor at Providence University):
blog.xuite.net/khoguan/blog/9052674-ian

[quote=“greves”]
Not sure if you’re up for it, but if your Taiwanese is good enough to help me write/proofread scripts that would be excellent! :slight_smile:

(Also, I’ve been learning bits and pieces of Hakka for a short while now and would probably do something similar for that once my Hakka is “good enough,” probably in another few years though haha.)[/quote]

I can definitely help proofread scripts, don’t know about how well I can write them though. I have done a slide on the history of Lomaji and some of its basic design concepts though.

Good luck with the Hakka, I want to try Hakka, but at this point if I have time, I really want to pick up an Aboriginal language.

I’ve gone to Taiwanese class like 3 times, got the textbooks in mothballs because 1. they are not interesting, too much focus on pronunciation 2. not much daily life vocabulary 3. no songs! I want the pretty songs I hear while riding on taxis or the neighbors sing.

Very helpful article! And I may take you up on that in the future if I come across something tricky like the ian/ien/en thing. Thanks.

Definitely agree with you about all 3 points, although at the moment it may look like I’m guilty of same on my channel. I will be putting up a lot more daily life type stuff that’s actually useful, but I had to get the pronunciation up first and I tried to keep it as short as possible, in total it’ll be just 5 ~10 minute videos. Stay tuned on the channel because after that I’m going to assume you know the pronunciation and get into some better topics! (Suggestions are welcome, too.)

For songs, check out r/ohtaigi, I’ve started posting up lyrics a lot more regularly, and I’d also be happy to transcribe any suggested songs - there’s a ton of good oldies I’m sure I don’t know about.

I was wondering if you have given up the channel completely? I’ve started learning Taiwanese, and your videos have been very helpful. Even though there are other resources today (like Bite-size Taiwanese and Glossika), your channel is still a great addition (actually I use it as a primary source, not as an “addition”). If you decided to continue making videos, that would be awesome!

Yes for the time being, unfortunately. I actually get messages about it pretty regularly and have always planned to get back to it at some point.

Maybe 2020 will be the year…

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How similar is Taiwanese and fujianese?

I believe they speak Hokkien in Fujian. Just sounds a smidgen different from the local Taiwanese dialect.

Apparently my grandpa spoke funny Taiwanese because it was affected by his Fujian accent. Unfortunately, I can’t really remember because he died a long time ago.

But isn’t Taiwanese a dialect of Hokkien?

I’m not really clear on this. I’ve heard People from Fujian speak and I can understand most of it. I don’t know Taiwanese well enough to tell how different or similar they are. It just sounds like people from Fujian have a different accent to me.

I think so, technically. Minnan is another variant. There are small differences between them but for the most part they seem mutually intelligible.

Where’s our resident linguist (and flag designer) @hansioux? Man of many talents…

It’s the same as south Fujian to be clear, closest to the Xiamen, Zhangzhou, and Quanzhou dialects.

I remember my mom asking if I could tell my grandpa’s Taiwanese was a little different than everyone else’s, but at the time I understood too little Taiwanese to notice. Grandma was from Xiamen and she spoke what was understood to be more “standard” Taiwanese. So there was an implication that my grandpa, despite hailing from southern Fujian, sounded a bit unusual.

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Xiamen is considered the standard for southern Min. The farther away you get from there, things start to change. A small town somewhere might have a noticeably different dialect. As far as Chaozhou or Putien it’s a totally different dialect (though with some similarities).

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