How many Forumosans can speak Taiwanese?

How many Forumosans can speak Taiwanese?

  • My Taiwanese is perfect, you stupid 阿都啊
  • I generally use more Taiwanese than Mandarin.
  • I can understand when old people/taxis tell me how good looking I am, but I answer in Mandarin.
  • Wa tia bo, Ni hui jiang guoyu ma?
  • Mandarin is enough of a challenge for me already
  • I can’t speak Mandarin or Taiwanese

0 voters

Just curious, I’ve gotten to the point now where I can understand my neighbors making small talk with me in Taiwanese (the old ones), and I can now make polite small talk back with them in Taiwanese, mixing Mandarin for anything I don’t know (which is a lot). Just wondering where other people are at.

I could speak TW, but only coz I knew whatthose ladies were on about at the park.

They only wanted to know, if my son was a girl, If I was a foreign bride, and what was the rent of my apartment. :laughing: does that count???

My situation is kind of like yours mike029. I can understand 90-plus percent of the dialogue in a typical Taiwan soap opera (close to 100 percent if I peek at the subtitles), but my comprehension is somewhat lower in real-world conversations, especially when I’m not fully clued in to the context. My speaking ability lags way behind my listening ability. I’ve just recently started mustering the courage to try and hold up my end of Taiwanese conversations with neighbors and taxi drivers rather than immediately reverting to Mandarin as I always used to.

divea hahahaha that’s funny. i get the same kind of questions all the time too… where are you from? are you an english teacher? why do you know to speak chinese? can you understand my minnanyu?

the reason why i’ve been thinking about this lately is because the last few taxi drivers i’ve had haven’t understood ‘jieyun dingxi zhan’ when i say it, and i can’t figure out why…so i started saying ‘ding hui’ and that seems to work the first time with some of them.

as far as the dramas…i always read the subtitles hahaha, but i agree with you rotalsnart that listening is much easier than speaking…especially when it’s much easier to just speak mandarin…i do find it very difficult when people ask me a random question with no context, even in mandarin sometimes.

i do like ordering taiyu songs at ktv (for example 練舞功) and just singing that in taiyu from straight memorization. chinese people get impressed over things like that, and it’s good for guanxi…i can’t believe i just said that. send me home now.

mike, I sing a lot of Taiwanese songs too!! Off a mix of reading and memorising.

My Taiwanese is … ahem… dismal. I can understand roughly 50% of all that’s said about me, and I can hold a conversation with a patient listener. Commonly used sentences I say well enough to freak everybody out, pretty much the rest of it is met with polite smiles and ‘That’s so cute but WTF is she saying?’ looks.

I understand swear words and accents exceptionally well, though, thanks to my ex-mafia boyfriend from the harbour :eh:

I am sure my Taiwanese is not as good as rotalsnart’s.

Here’s Lamborghini in Minan!


Try it the next time you meet a car dealer. You might want to stand back a couple of feet though before you say it.

I’d say something like what rotalsnart said, but I do get a fair amount of practice with the fam, I can speak somewhat. I find it hard for conversations not to lapse into mandarin too though. If you dropped me in a purely Taiwanese speaking place I’d get by.

I’m glad Rice_T and Tempo Gain chimed into this conversation. (We really should all find some occasions to get together!) And Rice_T is no doubt being much too modest, as usual.

I can pick out words here and there. I believe I’ve mastered all the fillers (an-ne, hit-e, chit-e, ho-a, goa ka li kong, etc.), which appear to constitute about 50% of any Taiwanese conversation.

[quote=“Chris”] I believe I’ve mastered all the fillers (an-ne, hit-e, chit-e, ho-a, goa ka li kong, etc.), which appear to constitute about 50% of any Taiwanese conversation.[/quote] :laughing: Ain’t that the truth. Taiwanese (aka The language of the In-laws) isn’t exactly a treat for the ears. (Apologies to my neighbour Wu Bai.)
There used to be a few whiteys who could speak Taiwanese fluently in my part of Chiayi County (but they’re all dead now - don’t know if there’s any connection between these two points). They were Hungarian Jesuits, refugees from the Civil War.

Taiwanese is not a particularly nice sounding language. I speak it fluently, but nowadays prefer to use mando.

I can speak English.

I learned all my Taiwanese from tv commercials.
Kong Tia Ling - ai gai la!
Sao Jing - za go hun jing, ke so OUT!
Kong ba kong kong - kong gu ling - kong kong kong

I’m approaching this point. Got a decent book and CDs that I listen too (not enough time spent, though) and my next step is to get the Catholic Taiwanese study books from Taichung next month. I do wonder if I shouldn’t just keep plugging away at the Mandarin for another year or two though and get more fluent with that first before dabbling in Taiwanese, which, let’s face it, is even more of a hobby (to use Sandman speak) than Mandarin.

I can speak a bit, and understand a bit more but still not particularly well for a guy who has been here 13 years and speaks Mandarin fine. Because of restaurant work (the guys in the kitchen tend to talk it to each other and going to the markets to buy vegetables) I can hold my own for food things but I look pretty silly beyond food and rather basic conversation. Still even a vocab of few hundred words seems to completely flip people out up North (I used to travel to Taibei and XinZhu often). Sometimes less so down here in the South.

werkin on it…manderin is so passe’

Quoted for truth. There’s a pair of old ladies in an apartment in the building next to ours, and when they get going you can hear them clearly through two concrete walls. Despite being in the same room, they find it necessary to absolutely scream at each other; not because they’re angry (although Taiwanese always sounds to me like someone isn’t enjoying themselves), but because it just seems to be the mandatory volume level if you’re using Taiwanese.

I know almost no Taiwanese, though I can distinguish it easily from Chinese. I can recognize (and say), a couple of fillers, but that’s it. A young Taiwanese girl (about 18), who stayed with my wife and I (having grown up almost her whole life in the US), used to knock the locals sideways by switching to her best nightmarket Taiwanese whenever people couldn’t handle her perfect American accent. She can’t read, write, or speak any Chinese, so when English didn’t work she’d fall back on Taiwanese. People would absolutely fawn over her whenever she did so.


I understand a bit of Taiwanese and speak a tiny bit, but when it comes to place names down here in Tainan, my version of the Taiwanese pronunciation often works better than my version of the Mandarin pronunciation.