Mainland Chinese vs. Taiwan Chinese

I would like to know how big the difference is between those two. I don’t mean simplified vs. traditional characters, but the vocabulary.
For example, what are the corresponding words on the Mainland for:

mobile phone (shou ji)
scooter (mo to che/ ji che)
internet (wuang lu)

Also, how big is the difference in everyday life conversations?
If I can read a newspaper here, can I also understand one in Mainland China, or do I have to pick up some Commie-speak first?

Thanks for your enlightenment.

There is a word used in China for the internet: yintewang. I have seen it written, but I’m not sure I’ve heard it used in conversation. Another word that is different is software: ruanti in Taiwan, ruanjian in China. I’m sure there are plenty more similar examples but I can’t think of any at the moment.

There are many small differences in usage, but generally these are no barrier to comprehension. Often it is a just a variation in the frequency of use. One word will be preferred in China, while another word with the same or similar meaning will be used in Taiwan. For example in Taiwan people use lianluo to say they will contact you while in China people use lianxi.

Don’t know much about reading newspapers (because I can’t really read them), but I guess the biggest problem is traditional vs. simplified characters. There are probably differences in word usage like I mentioned above, but if your knowledge of characters is good shouldn’t cause any problems.

Internet cafe is wangka here, wangba there.
Plastic is sujiao here, suliao there.

It seems to me like it’s pretty comparable to the difference between American and Australian English. The differences in accent sometimes force you to concentrate a little more, but rarely diminish comprehension (between native speakers). The differences in vocabulary are sometimes just a matter of frequency (ting…de vs. man…de) and the ones that are completely different are often easy enough to guess. That’s what my wife says, anyway. She has no trouble at all communicating with our neighbors from Mainland China.

ORal communication should not be a problem, BUT my Taiwanese wife do sometimes have problem to get the full and exact meaning of articles and messages written by mainlanders in simplified Chinese.

I don’t think it is such a piece of cake.

In mainland chinese, the number 10 is not pronouced the same as 4.

Chewing gum in Taiwan: ko xiang tang
Chewing gum in China: ko jiao, which means oral sex in Taiwan. Probably won’t make a difference to Taiwanese businessmen in China.

Mobile is shouji in Shanghai. Are think scooters are jidongche (機動車, not “excited vehicle!”), but I’m not sure.

4 and 10 are pronounced differently in Taiwan too. 4 is fourth tone and 10 is second tone even among speakers who drop the ‘r’. Dropping the 'r’s is vry common in China too by the way.

My Taiwanese wife still laughs each time I call potatoes tudou instead of malingshu, a habit I picked up in China.

As for BF Matthew’s 10/4, I’d thought he was referring not to the retroflex -r but to the tendency in Taiwan for sh- to shift to something closer to s-. Thus, not shi/si but si/si. That’s also found in parts of China, esp. in the south.

Yes, my point was that the tones are different and so the pronunciation is different. Tones are part of a word’s pronunication and not something optionally tacked on.

I call spuds tudou as well. What on earth is a malingshu ? Who’s Ma Ling ?

A very important difference that you must know should you ever happen to find yourself in Commie Land is the pronunciation of the number one. In Taiwan it is always pronounced yi1. In China it is pronounced yi1, but when it is part of a phone number, bus number, room number or any number where the digits are read separately it is pronounced yao1.

Example: For 103 if it is read as one hundred and three it would be pronounced yi bai ling san in both Taiwan and China. If it is read as one-oh-three it would be pronounced yi ling san in Taiwan and yao ling san in China.

It is in Shanghai!

I understand the formal word for cellphone/mobile phone is the same in both countries, i.e. xing2dong4dian4hua4. Not sure if shou3ji1 is used in China now, but it’s highly possible. Ditto ba4gua4 (gossip). My (mainland) Chinese teacher turned his nose up at that one but admitted that it’s catching on. He still prefers a more starchy word, yao1yan2.

In China a first or second tone at the end of a word is commonly dropped, e.g xian1sheng1 (sir), xiu1xi2 (rest), xing1qi2 all lose their strong last tone in China.

In terms of different vocabulary, it seems more recently created vocabulary, e.g. bike, CD is likely to be different on either side of the strait.

More likely to trip you up listening-wise is different grammatical preferences. Also I can’t help thinking when I read newspapers from mainland china that they use much more anglicised language, though I’m not learned enough to be completely sure about that. Overall mainland Chinese sounds a bit more blunt. You’re unlikely to hear people say ‘bu!’ for ‘no’ in Taiwan, ‘bu shi’ or ‘bu hui’ are preferred.

[quote=“wix”]A very important difference that you must know should you ever happen to find yourself in Commie Land is the pronunciation of the number one. In Taiwan it is always pronounced yi1. In China it is pronounced yi1, but when it is part of a phone number, bus number, room number or any number where the digits are read separately it is pronounced yao1.

Example: For 103 if it is read as one hundred and three it would be pronounced yi bai ling san in both Taiwan and China. If it is read as one-oh-three it would be pronounced yi ling san in Taiwan and yao ling san in China.[/quote]

The number one is frequently yao in Taiwan as well, which is simply correct Modern Standard Chinese, when quoting telephone numbers and strings of digits. Taxi drivers often use yao over the radio for “one”, and yao was taught at Zheng Da and Shi Da when I was a student. It is simply less common here than on the mainland.

There are plenty of regional differences in Mandarin. It is a dialect that is comparatively few people’s first language.

From my experience, mainland Chinese use a lot more “chengyu” (idioms) in everyday speech, whereas you don’t find that much in Taiwan. I think these are a fascinating characteristic of the Chinese language, and I was disappointed when I got here and people rarely used idioms in everyday speech, only in writing. When I try to use them, people tell me it sounds out of place in conversation, and thus I don’t get the chance to improve this aspect of my Chinese.

Another major difference is the deletion of the “er hua” (adding the “r” sound at the end of certain words) that is commonly used in China (moreso in Beijing, but most Chinese will use it for certain words, such as “yidian®”). One last thing that I’ve found difficult to adjust to here is Taiwanese pronouncing

I wouldn’t worry too much about the differences between chinese spoken in mainland and taiwan. it’s just like british and american english. You’ll get used to it. And whether you say zixinche or jiaotache, tudou or malingshu, koujiao or kouxiangtang, fangbianmian or paomian, xihongshi or fanjie…people might laugh, but will understand.

Not necessarily … with the fanqie/xihongshi (tomato) and tudour/malingshu (potato), I’ve gotten a lot of blank stares here. On the latter, tudou® means something totally different here, so there can be some confusion. The zixingche/jiaotache (bicycle) one is fine, as some Taiwanese even say zixingche. Another goofy one is jichengche/chuzuqiche (taxi).

yeah, you might get stares and laughs, but after some explanation people get it and you just try to say it the right way next time…
true, taiwanese seem to have some trouble understanding xihongshi, but I still wouldn’t overestimate the differences. It’s the same language after all just with some regional differences like American and British English or Geman spoken in Germany, Austria or Switzerland