Characters pronounced differently in Taiwan and China

Some characters have different official pronunciations in Taiwan and China. Does anyone know of a handy list in print or on the web, or am I going to have to go through two dictionaries character by character and make my own list?

Just to stress this, I am not talking about accent or common mispronunciations. I am not talking about changes that occur in multi-character words (though, that may be a future topic!). I am talking about those characters that are officially pronounced differently in Taiwan and China.


Here are a few (Taiwan - mainland):

垃圾 (le4se4 - la1ji1)
期 (qi2 - qi1)
企 (qi4 - qi3)


Thanks, Taffy. That’s the sort of thing I was looking for. As it turns out the list is longer than what you quoted. Here’s the link if anyone else wants the complete list.
PROBLEM: it’s an image, can’t cut and paste. Can we find another folks?

Other large scale contributions still welcome.

Thanks, Chris. I’m looking for a more or less comprehensive list. The reason is that having lived and worked in both places, I sometimes get confused. I figure if I had a list to look over (and double check), that would help me remember the ‘splittist’ characters (ha ha ha).

There is one I cant get it.
靚 jing4…Taiwan

Also I was taught in Taiwan to pronounce France as Fa4 Guo2, but in China it appears to be Fa3 Guo2.

Dunno…I looked at that list…and contrary to it, I’m still hearing the same pronounciation for those words as Taiwan. The only exceptions are where China has eliminated the corresponding traditional character.

[quote=“wisher”]There is one I cant get it.
靚 jing4…Taiwan
靚 is not an often used character except in vernacular Cantonese. Traditionally, it is pronounced jing4 if you were to take a look the Qing-era Kangxi Dictionary. The modern Mandarin pronouncation of liang4 is borrowed from Cantonese, which pronounces it something like “leng” in English.

If it is pronounced as jing4, it would carry the old-dictionary meaning of “ornamental; make-up”. If it is pronounced as liang4, then it would carry the standard Cantonese meaning of “beautiful”.

The usage of the character was exported from HK and it has taken a firmer foothold in the entertainment industry in the mainland than Taiwan. Today, its usage is strictly casual.

You are correct, 法 is not on the list in the website (or perhaps I missed it).

Guoyu, being a more traditional standard, typically retains more 破音字/多音字 (characters with multiple pronunciations) than the newer putonghua standard. Along with simplification, the PTH standard also eliminated some of the pronunciations of characters and retained just one. 法 was one of them.

Anywho . . . am I going to have to sit down with 新華字典 in one hand and 新編國語日報辭典 in the other and lock myself in a cabin in the forest somewhere and go through character by character? Could be kind of fun, but if some of other hermit has already done this, why waste my time, right? Anyone?

Actually, that list is quite pedantic, very much losing sight of the forest for the trees, and just wrong in places. It’s a start, but I would have thought there would be another. Thanks, folks :bravo:

I’ve noticed that a some characters pronunced “jie” in standard mandarin, are often pronunced “gai”.

The taiwanese singer Tao Zhe, in his song 小鎮姑娘 (xiaozhen guniang), the word 了解 (liao jie) is pronunced “liao gai”.

In Guilin (Guangxi province), they also use the pronunciation “gai” for a lot of “jie” characters.
步行街 (bu xing jie) is pronunced “bu xing gai”.

If people are using “gai” instead of “jie”, then they’re not speaking 100% pure, unadulterated, and officially sanctioned putonghua/guoyu. But then again, most Chinese people don’t anyway.


Just for the record, I have to say it: “characters pronounced differently in Taiwan and China” is misleading if people don’t keep in mind that what is really being discussed are Mandarin morphemes whose defined standard pronunciations differ in Taiwan and China despite being written with the same character (or “simplified” form thereof). :grandpa:

Yes, I know, that’s a mouthful. But it doesn’t reinforce myths about Chinese characters somehow being the “real” language.

OK, back to what y’all were talking about. I’ll be quiet now … probably. :wink:

Cranky, thank you for your comments. I guess I’m not sure I know what you’re trying to say. It sounds like you are just saying that they pronounce stuff differently in Taiwan and China, but you wouldn’t bother posting if that were what you wanted to say. Also, since someone else has already pointed out the historical angle, I guess that is not what you are trying to say. Please explain yourself, sir.

Demoore, yeah, I noticed that too, re David Tao (I’ve never been to Guangxi). I had assumed (based on nothing) that perhaps that was the Taiwanese pronunciation (yeah, I know he grew up in Hong Kong, but . . . ). Can anyone say with certainty if this is a Taiyu thing or something else?

In the specific cases of 解 (jie3) and 街 (jie1), they do map to “gai” (or slight variations thereof) in Cantonese, Taiwanese, and Hakka. However, the same mapping do not hold for other identical sounding characters such as 姊 (jie3) and 接 (jie1).

I think Taiwan people pronounce Jie as Gai, just because they try to be sounded cute. We mix some Minnan dialect pronunciation in to Mandarin. I think it’s like people who can speak French sometimes pronounce some English words which come from French in French to show they know the root or to sound more elegant.

Another case is People pronouce wrong deliberately to be funny or cute. They pronounce the radicals in the character which they know the pronouciation is not base on that. For example, 造’詣’(accomplishments) should be pronounced ‘Yi4’ ㄧˋ. People will pronounce (chih3,jhih3,zhi3)ㄓˇ which is the pronounciation of the radical 旨.
Although well-educated people know the right pronounciation, this sometimes misleads common people and they forget the proper one.

One more case, wrong pronounciation are too popular therefore people cann’t use the correct one in daily conversation. Otherwise people will think they are acting or being fake. Like 西門町(Xi1 men2 Ting3) is (Xi1 men2 “Ding1”), 汀州路 (Ting1 Zhou1 Lu4) is (Ding1 Zhou1 Lu4).
Microsoft ㄅㄆㄇbopome input is one of the factors making the wrong pronounciation spread out…

[quote] ㄅㄆㄇbopome[/quote] First time I’v heard of this being responsible for poor pronunciation…I find that you actually learn better pronunciation with this as you don’t bring in English pronunciations as you might with pinyin or other romanizations.

I think you need to sort out where people are mixing dialects with std. Mandarin or just speaking improperly…after all…how times a day do you hear “runs good” in English from native speakers?

Or like those who call the Target chain of discount stores “tar-zhay”!

People often conflate language and its written forms. And most of the time this doesn’t result in much if any confusion. But so many myths have arisen around Chinese characters that I’ve noticed that people tend to have their misconceptions strengthened by such mentions. So I wanted to point out that what is really being discussed isn’t Hanzi but rather language itself. Chinese characters are at best secondary here. They’re just what are being used to write the language.

Other than in cases such as the Tingzhou/Dingzhou one that DoD mentioned (something I keep meaning to write about but never have), people don’t say words/morphemes differently because of what the Chinese characters are or are not but because of how these words/morphemes are spoken by individuals. But this isn’t unique to languages written in Chinese characters; the same thing happens in English with “spelling” readings arising and sometimes overcoming the standard pronunciation.

Or to put it more simply: Chinese characters are used to represent [spoken] language, not vice versa.

I hope that’s clearer.

Elegua, read my words again, please. I said ‘Microsoft ㄅㄆㄇ bopome “input”’ not only ㄅㄆㄇbopome.

The input method contains some wrong pronounciation, like 汀 you can use ㄉㄧㄥ to key in. Think about this, if MS Word spelling correction tolerate some wrong spellings, and then maybe some people don’t think that’s wrong and keep using those spellings. That’s what happened in Madarin pronouciation. People don’t look up dictionary. They only try if they can use that spelling key in that word.

I’m not quite sure what your question is, Elegua. What does “run goods” mean?