Taiwan vs. Taiwanese

Why is it that you so frequently see “Taiwan” used as an adjective in the papers. Is “Taiwanese” reserved for the language and ethnicity? Or is it some Taiwan independance thing (itself an example)?

Given the localization drive and the opposition -perceived or real - between mainlanders and Taiwanese, “Taiwanese” carries more political connotations than it normally should.

Just try “Taiwanese independence” as opposed to “Taiwan independence”. “Taiwanese inpdendence” carries a much stronger implication of localization/bentu and favoring Taiwanese/bensheng people, while “Taiwan independence” brings across more of the feeling of indepdence for Taiwan as a nation, regardless of whether you’re Taiwanese/bensheng or mainlander/waisheng.

In short, in Taiwan, “Taiwan” is more neutral than “Taiwanese”. As a translator, that is the main reason I use “Taiwan” more often than “Taiwanese”.

It is very distinct in Germany, where some media always speak of Taiwan people as “Taiwaner” while others say “Taiwanesen”. A friend (Taiwanese) told me it would have to do with the discrimination implied by the use of “-ese”, as most nations being mentioned that way were colonies once and their inhabitants considered being of lower value.
It sounds logical, but I never had the feeling I would discriminate someone by calling him/her “TaiwanESE”…

That’s a bunch of malarkey that went around a couple of years ago in an e-mail penned by some too-easily-offended local with a smattering of English and an inferiority complex. The original author felt that since residents of New York were called New Yorkers, Taiwan residents should be called Taiwaners. (Sandman tells me he prefers “Taiwankers” as a respect-getting device) :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

This "theory’ doesn’t really explain Siamese (Thailand was never a colony,) Viennese, Maltese, or Japanese. There must be others. :sunglasses:

P is absolutely right. I work at Taiwan “News”, and that is the exact reason.

Yeah, whenever I hear someone use “Taiwaner” I can’t help but laugh and dismiss whomever used it as just silly.

Yeah, we want to be more like Koreans, who were never subjugated by any other country that used an “-ese” ending, and less like Portugese, whom everyone knows are just really low-class.

There seems to be some confusion here. Olaf/dl7und was talking about German, not English. My German is kind of mouldy, but I believe the German for Japanese is japanisch, but Chinese is chinesisch, nicht war, Olaf?

When I was editor/translator at Trade Winds, our instruction book said that we should avoid the use of the term Taiwanese as much as possible, as it was politically sensitive. However, that book was written many years ago, and things are more laid back now. Now that I am at Infotrade, I make my own rules, and I am using the word Taiwanese more than before. One thing I try to avoid doing is referring to the Hokkien, Minnan, Amoy, Holo or whatever you want to call it dialect as Taiwanese, because it does not originate from Taiwan, the majority of its speakers are not in Taiwan, and the term implies that only Hokkien is Taiwanese, while Hakka and all the Aboriginal languages are not. If I were a Hakka or Aborigine, I don’t think I would be very pleased about that. As far as I can see, the word “Taiyu” is a colonial word made up to distinguish the majority language in Taiwan from “Guoyu” (“Kokugo”), which originally referred to Japanese.

Ja. And the explanation I gave above is the only one I encountered so far - given by a Taiwanese. (Where is my helmet now? Any place to hide?) There is for instance a quite famous german computer magazine that wrote “taiwanesisch” (taiwanese) before but writes “taiwanisch” (taiwan) in most cases now. This issue had been discussed by readers on their website, but unfortunately without response from the journalists. Also to me it sounds a bit “strange” to say “taiwan” instead of “taiwanese” - so I don’t do it…

Why has everyone got their knickers in a twist - Nobody ever said “New Zealander” or “New Zealandise” customs (If they speak ‘normal’ English) - or whatever - just “New Zealand” customs.

Just a normal useage thing.

Rian, New Zealand’s about the only one. An Australian custom as opposed to an Australia custom is more frequently used, Ameriacan, South African, Canadian, Irish, Bosnian, Chinese, Papua New Guinian, Scottish, English, ah I’m tired. I could go on forever. 6 one way half a dozen the other.

New Zealand, Luxemburg and Lichtenstein (did I spell those right) are the only three countries in the world where the simple noun form is also the adjective form ie ‘New Zealand wool’. This according to my Oxford dictionary. The -ese countires are all Asian, African or South American.


What about US and UK? Those are commonly used as adjectives as well.

Oh hell, this thread has me so confused. How do I adjectify cities? New Yorker, Parisian, Beijinger, okay, but what about Taipei, Kaohsiung, Guilin, Chengdu and Biloxi? Do I add -ese for colonized cities like Jamestown? I guess I will never get this damn term paper done.

This "theory’ doesn’t really explain Siamese (Thailand was never a colony,) Viennese, Maltese, or Japanese. There must be others. [/QUOTE]

Hmm. Chinese? Japanese? But I will from now on instruct my Tabby cats to refer to their long-haired bretheren as Siamers.

The reason for the -ese ending in English while refering to a person from or belonging to the a particular country in the Eastern Hemisphere is because back before the Spanish Armanda was defeated, the Pope divided the colonization priviledge of the World to the Spanish and Portugese. Span got everything on the West of Brzail. Portugal for everything on the East. So the -ese ending stuck for some of these countries.


Basically the OED reckons that -ese is, for romance languages because of their Latin roots, simply the common way of making adjectives and that is where English gets it from (specifically through Old French).
I would hazard a guess that countries the names of which became known in England through romance-language-speaking explorers or navigators tended to get stuck with the -ese ending. Knowledge of China for example comes from Marco Polo and a couple of other Mediterranean sources hence the -ese ending. Thing is, the British might have built a bloody big empire but they discovered almost none of it themselves, and tended to adopt the conventions that had generally been established by those Europeans who had.
I see that the OED’s first noted use of Taiwanese is only from 1942, before which I assume, it was Formosa and Formosan. I notice in George Kerr’s Formosa Betrayed, he actually has to explain what Taiwan is

Well maybe it could be useful to consider common usage among the tiny english speaking community:

Taiwanese - adjective and noun about the Chinese people who live here long term (residents of Taiwan), and the most common word for Hokien the most common second chinese language that a lot of people speak here in addition to the official language.

Taiwan - adjective about what the country does as a whole - usually by government.

Nice to seperate what the government is doing.

Originally posted by Jeff: Hmm. Chinese? Japanese? But I will from now on instruct my Tabby cats to refer to their long-haired bretheren as Siamers.
Thank you. My Siamer cat appreciates it. He, of course, speaks Meowenese.

I think Mandarin has it right…everyone is a ren.

The issue has already been well discussed in this thread, but I was still most surprised to see this in a letter in today’s Taipei Times.

[quote] I feel uncomfortable whenever I read a news story that refers to the people of Taiwan as Taiwanese. Englishmen created the -nese ending to describe people of the countries they think inferior. If Englishmen could create such a word, why can’t the people of Taiwan?

I have no better idea on this matter, but I truly wish one day to see a new word used to describe the people of Taiwan. A word which is full of pride and indicative of Taiwan’s national identity. For example, “Tai-waner” (like New Zealander) or just simply “Taiwan.” (Well, we can leave this matter to future generation.)[/quote]

The letter then goes on to talk about Taiwan’s entry (or failure thereof) into the WHO.

Full text of letter at taipeitimes.com/News/edit/ar … 2003054098