[color=#008040]Mod note: title altered to include Minnan / Hokkien, so that searches can find relevant threads; the word ‘Taiwanese’ is too common and is ignored by the search function. --DB[/color]
The longer I study Chinese and the better I get to know Taiwan, the more I feel Taiwan and Switzerland are very similar politically and culturally.
I’ve often come across the question, if one should study Taiwanese, if one lives in Taiwan or if Mandarin only would be OK too. Here is what I think…
If one lives in a foreign country, one should definitely learn the local language. As for Taiwan, it’s offical language is Mandarin Chinese, not Taiwanese. For this reason I think, it is sufficient, if one “only” learns Chinese. If Taiwanese was an offical language besides Chinese, then Hakka and all the languages of the aborigines would or should be too. But there is no need to study ALL the offical languages of a country.
Why do I think like this? Because it’s the same situation in Switzerland. One of Switzerlands offical languages is German, but not Swiss German (in case somebody doesn’t know, even though German is the offical language, it is not spoken in daily live. Swiss people speaks Swiss German, exept for special situations such as in class or in contact with foreigners is German spoken. Swiss German differs from German in a way Taiwanese differs from Mandarin).
Swiss people would expect foreigners to learn German, but never ever would expect anybody to learn Swiss German and nobody ever expects anybody to speak all the 4 offical languages of Switzerland. There are only a very few Swiss people who speak all the 4 offical languages!
This does not mean, that one wouldn’t be surprised and flattered if foreigners really do make the effort to learn Swiss German or Taiwanese.