A couple of questions re the Taiwanese language: Are there many people here interested in learning Taiwanese? Do many Westerners in Taiwan speak Taiwanese?
When I first arrived, I wanted to learn Taiwanese more than Mandarin. GL using it anywhere though. When I’d say something in Taiwanese I’d just get wierd stares, haha. Taiwanese coworkers thought it was ~cute~ though. /shrug
[quote=“Greikos”]When I first arrived, I wanted to learn Taiwanese more than Mandarin. GL using it anywhere though. When I’d say something in Taiwanese I’d just get wierd stares, haha. Taiwanese coworkers thought it was ~cute~ though. /shrug[/quote]Depends on where you are and who you are talking to. If you’re down south or dealing with people in their 40+ years of age, then Taiwanese can make things fly a lot smoother. If you are in Taichung City or up north than Mandarin would be better. Anyone 35 years and younger probably has trouble speaking Taiwanese unless they do/did so at home. A lot of my students can understand Taiwanese, but won’t speak it.
I’ve had an easier time with people understanding my Taiwanese than my Mandarin.
I’d like to comment on some of the talk in the “Is life too short for learning Chinese dialects?” thread. People should learn something because they genuinely want to learn it, not because it may be “useful” or it makes sense from a “financial” or “economic” perspective. Learning a language, like any endeavour, should be enjoyable. After all, it’s a joy to speak with people in their own language. I reckon learning Taiwanese - or any other Chinese ‘dialect’ (I’d prefer to use the word ‘language’, as in fact Taiwanese, Cantonese, Chiewchau, etc. also have written styles) - is laudable. If you’re interested in learning Taiwanese, go for it. Learning Taiwanese will not only enable you to further understand Taiwanese culture, it may also open many doors from a job/business perspective. I was speaking to a Korean businessman today. He told me that the only way he was able to develop close relations with the Taiwanese heavy industry manufacturers located in the south of Taiwan is through speaking Taiwanese.
I also think it’s quite sad that most expats who go to Hong Kong don’t learn the local language. Yes, most Hong Kong people speak English and/or Mandarin, but if you really want to understand Hong Kong culture and integrate into the local culture, you really need to speak Cantonese. A foreigner in Hong Kong who can speak Cantonese will be really well respected by the locals. They’ll also have many more - and interesting - job opportunities open to them, besides working in foreign multinationals or banks.
At the end of the day, who cares if you “need” something or not. The most important question to ask yourself is: “Will I enjoy it?”
It’s really hard to learn Taiwanese anywhere here in Taipei unless you wanna pay for a private tutor. My girlfriend can speak it a bit and will teach me stuff if I ask her. My students can also speak it but generally just use Mandarin unless they are spoken to directly in Taiwanese.
I personally love learning Taiwanese as I feel it makes the locals a lot more receptive to me. Being able to speak a small bit of Mandarin will get you a lot of positive results, but if you can use a small list of vocabulary in Taiwanese you will see smiles on peoples faces quickly. My Taiwanese is really limited but I tend to use “thank you” in Taiwanese more than Mandarin since I can use it daily.