English and Japanese in Taiwan?

Hi :slight_smile:

Since I speak only English, Japanese and French, I’m afraid that communication will be very difficult in Taiwan.

That’s why I would like to ask the following questions :

  1. Is it OK to order food, ask for directions/information in English?
  2. How about Japanese language? Is it a useless language there? Do the Taiwanese have some kind of resentiment against Japan?

Thanks in advance for your help :slight_smile:

The Taiwanese love Japan. Many elderly people here speak Japanese as they were educated in Japanese, like my MIL.

Many of the younger generation speak English nowadays though.

Thanks a lot for the info! :slight_smile:

[quote=“majimekun”]

  1. Is it OK to order food, ask for directions/information in English?[/quote]

Most people will expect you to only know english anyway and in a lot of restaurants you will get an “english” menu. actually its more like you have to refuse to get an english menu or assistance ordering your food or doing anything else in english if you know chinese. most people at least the young ones know english. i have never had an experience of speaking english being not ok. there will always be two possible reactions:

  1. Person you are talking to being struck dumb and playing possum (regardless if you speak english or chinese… they just freeze because a foreigner is talking to them although of course the freezing is more frequent with english)
  2. Person you are talking to is extremely glad to help you and will go out of his way and sometimes to extreme lengths to do so. (this option also includes a lot of people who will actually approach you and ask you if you need help. all it needs for this is for you to stand around for 2 seconds seeming inactive :slight_smile: )

To give you more confidence, many young Taiwanese also try to learn Japanese. English is usually useful but Japanese could be surprisingly helpful sometimes, too. It depends on where you are and whom you meet.

Thanks a lot for the aditional info :slight_smile:

Do you guys know if there is a significant japanese community concentrated somewhere in Taiwan?

I haven’t met many people here who speak French. I was scruffed once at Shida University by a Canadian girl who tried to get me to understand what she was saying by firing French at me at high speed, but I could hardly remember any of my middle school French and had to indicate to her that I had no idea what she was saying. Then it turned out she could speak Chinese, and we communicated better. Then it turned out she was Chinese, raised in Canada. Then after all that it turned out she could speak sufficient English to stumble through a simple conversation anyway. :loco:

So the lesson here is ‘When you speak to people here try using French last, not first’.

That’s common sense!
I didn’t plan to use any french anyway :wink:

Fluent Japanese could impress quite a few Taiwanese. Many Taiwanese study japanese , even in japan. Taiwan is quite heavily japanese influenced.

Sounds good :slight_smile:

Assuming you are in Taipei or one of the other big cities. On the east coast it’s a bit different. :slight_smile:

There are apparently several Japanese clubs in Taiwan - there is also a national organisation, and i am a member of the 花蓮日本人会 (if you look on the web, you may find a homepage, but it is a few years outdated and non-functional). (If you’d like the contact info for Taipei send me a PM.)
:slight_smile:

Thanks Yuli, but what I had in mind was a special area in the city where a lot of japanese live or run shops targeted to the japanese.
Since it’s the case in Paris, I assume that it might exist in Taiwan too (well, there wasn’t such a place in Singapore).

[quote=“majimekun”]Thanks Yuli, but what I had in mind was a special area in the city where a lot of japanese live or run shops targeted to the japanese.
Since it’s the case in Paris, I assume that it might exist in Taiwan too (well, there wasn’t such a place in Singapore).[/quote]
Hm, i’ve never heard of a special area of that sort…

I was in a similar position as the only languages I spoke when I went to Taiwan were English and Japanese. You’ll be fine. Many Taiwanese speak and understand a basic level of English so it is possible to get by. Japanese can be quite useful in Taiwan. Because of the occupation the older generation had to take Japanese in school so many of them are proficient in it. It was not unusual for an older Taiwanese person to jump into a Japanese conversation between me and my friends. There are also many young Japanese in Taiwan on student visas and the like so you should have plenty of opportunity to use the language. I have heard of places that cater specifically to Japanese, but maybe you wouldn’t want to go to them.

Thanks for such a detailed description of the taiwanese environment!
As for your last sentence, it sounds quite mysterious ahaha :slight_smile:

In computer companies, especially the small ones usually people with business-ready Japanese are sought for. However that would be most likely a Sales career.

[quote=“majimekun”]Thanks a lot for the aditional info :slight_smile:

Do you guys know if there is a significant japanese community concentrated somewhere in Taiwan?[/quote]

I don’t know about that, but do know that there are some Japanese-speaking groups in Taipei, which mainly from from their Japanese classes.

When I first travelled in Taiwan I only spoke English, Japanese and some very rudimentary Chinese.

Generally Japanese and English is enough, no matter where you go; Chinese is useful if you want to have conversations with randoms (such as the taxi driver!). But occasionally randoms can also speak one of the other two.

Speaking Japanese got me a very good hotel deal off an old lady at a bus stop once; I couldn’t understand a word of the rapid-fire of anything else that she said apart from ‘hotel, hotel, stay, stay’ though.