Taiwanese accent and being corrected

Is it just me or do Taiwanese often change the ng final into a plain n? For example 城市 chengshi will become chenshi. Or for example 正式 zhengshi will become zhenshi.
It doesn’t bother me too much in that all languages have regional accents and they are neither right nor wrong. God knows I understand Taiwanese accented Chinese better than the Beijing variety. However my problem is when I pronounce (what I believe to be) the more standard and correct pronunciation as taught in text books only to have people not understand what I am saying and sometimes tell me I am wrong and try to correct my pronunciation.

So what I want to ask is: Has anyone else noticed this pronunciation difference? Do many locals not know what the mainland pronunciation sounds like or am I pronouncing my words wrong?

not ng to n, but yes on eng to en.

Taiwanese people deliberately pronounces eng is seems as preconscious, poser, hilarious, or Chinese.

Honestly this shouldn’t affect how much people understand you. If the context is clear and you’re using the right tones, you should be able to talk about “鎮式” events and “關關客” from China and everyone should be totally find figuring it out.

The ng > n phenomenon is more pronounced in the south. After living in Tainan for two months, everyone told me I was guilty of it.

When I was still taking Chinese classes in university (in the US), I often had instructors chew me out for pronouncing 可是 “keshi” as “kesi”.

I think a bit of an accent brings no worries, but if you’re really affecting a down south “Dai-Hwan Koh-Yu” drawl, people might regard you as a bit ignorant, or suspect you’re putting them on. At least in the north.

I don’t understand why you’d go to Taiwan and try to speak standard. That’s almost like going to the US to try and speak like a Brit, the only difference being that they try to make you speak standard in class no matter where you are. Why do you not go to Beijing or - even better - Harbin if you don’t want a strong accent? In my opinion it’s on the verge of being disrespectful to the locals to speak standard, it’s as if you think that how they speak is lesser.

And to help with your question, they do this with the ending -ing as well. 名字 becomes “minzi”.

Edit: Another thing, I don’t think they pronounce every -eng as -en, I don’t think people pronounce “peng” (most people at least, though I’ve heard some people pronounce 朋友 as “penyou”) as “pen”, or “feng” as “fen”. But the vowel sound in these syllables is different, it would probably make more sense to spell them “pong” and “fong” respectively.

Well it’s all complicated by politics. Most students don’t know anything about different accents before coming to Taiwan, and in class they learn to say things like 這朵花兒挺漂亮的, or 咱們去騎自行車吧, both of which are certainly not how 90% of Taiwanese people would speak. The reason is simple: The gov’t was trying to propagate a very Northeastern Chinese linguistic agenda ever since it arrived in Taiwan, so teachers feel that speaking Taiwan-style Mandarin (even if you 卷舌) is not “proper.” I make sure to ridicule the concept of “standard” (標準) Chinese whenever someone brings it up, because the standard they’re holding everyone to is one from another country (de facto).

It is like Sko said: Imagine travelling to New York to study English, and your teachers insist on you learning RP Queen’s English. But the moment you leave the classroom, you’re greeted with an entirely different pronunciation system and some different vocabulary. I think Taiwan should be proud of its Taiwan-style Mandarin (NOT 台灣國語) as it sounds so much more civilized than 北京話兒.

PS, yes Taiwanese people almost universally turn eng into ong (ㄥ into ㄨㄥ) for feng, peng, beng, and weng (which becomes simply “ong,” no w initial). Did I miss any?

I don’t really like the Beijing style pronunciation either. I would rather aim for something similar to what is on the PAVC text books. Standard but without the 兒 sounds everywhere. I find it funny that you say to go to Beijing if you don’t want a strong accent. I think that Beijing accent is the most clearly identifiable and pronounced accent.

I don’t agree that it is disrespectful at all to speak to people in their language with an accent that isn’t theirs. I’m Australian and if I ever met a foreigner in my own country who spoke with either an American or British accent I wouldn’t be the slightest bit fussed, even if they had lived there for 20+ years.

My point is that if you went to America and spoke with a British accent (RP) or the other way round. No one would have a problem understanding you. However here it seems some people aren’t aware that there are other pronunciations apart from the Taiwanese way and this can sometimes cause misunderstanding.

I think the eng to ong transition is because the school teaches students to pronounce ㄥ as ong. So when you combine anything with ㄥ it comes out as pong朋, bong崩, mong萌, fong風,

exception comes with k, g, l, n, 更 is pronunced as geng and not gong. I think the distinction comes from you can’t have ㄆㄨㄥ,ㄅㄨㄥ,ㄇㄨㄥ,ㄈㄨㄥ… well, even if you can it’s rarely used words.

I think that is because more and more accents are featured on American TV these days. People get used to it. When I first became semi-fluent in spoken English, I have a difficult time holding a conversation with my Australian cousins, because I have no clue what they are talking about. We’d spend 30 minutes discussing how to pronounce “true lies” instead of discussing the movie itself. Same thing with Indian accents. But then Australian’s on TV all the time, and I had multiple Indian professors, classmates and coworkers, now listening to those is a piece of cake.

As I said above, it’s all politics. The UK and the US are on super-friendly terms, and there have been lots of Americans traveling to Britain and lots of Britons in America for several decades. Taiwan and China, on the other hand, are still technically in a cold war, and any kind of friendly exchanges are a relatively new thing. When I got here five years ago, you would literally never hear people speaking in Beijinghua or “biaozhun” Mandarin unless they were really old veterans who came over 60 years ago. Taiwan is still adapting to Chinese people in the country, and they are still only here for limited reasons, i.e. tourism, so many people haven’t even gotten a chance to interact with them.

Just speculating here.

[quote=“Speeves”]I don’t really like the Beijing style pronunciation either. I would rather aim for something similar to what is on the PAVC text books. Standard but without the 兒 sounds everywhere. I find it funny that you say to go to Beijing if you don’t want a strong accent. I think that Beijing accent is the most clearly identifiable and pronounced accent.

I don’t agree that it is disrespectful at all to speak to people in their language with an accent that isn’t theirs. I’m Australian and if I ever met a foreigner in my own country who spoke with either an American or British accent I wouldn’t be the slightest bit fussed, even if they had lived there for 20+ years.

My point is that if you went to America and spoke with a British accent (RP) or the other way round. No one would have a problem understanding you. However here it seems some people aren’t aware that there are other pronunciations apart from the Taiwanese way and this can sometimes cause misunderstanding.[/quote]
I mentioned Beijing because there are people there who don’t have a very strong accent, if you interact with the “right” kind of people, not everyone eeerrrs everywhere. I did also recognize Harbin as even better.

If you don’t agree that it’s disrespectful, then you don’t, but don’t be surprised when people don’t want you to speak that way. In your case it may, as you say, just be ignorance (although I think most people do know what a mainland accent sounds like, I’ve heard people imitating it more than once), but I can imagine I’m not the only who’d be offended.

Is there anyone out there who has a Mandarin laoshi speaking in a Putonghua accent only to leave you confused when you leave the classroom and engage the Taiwanese in conversation? I wonder if these laoshis are told by their school to put on an accent in class, but speak like any other Taiwanese outside their school.

They tend to take a little bit of work home with them, but for the most part it’s Taiwanese-style, just with all the 卷舌音 existing where they belong.

I’ve never found it difficult: in class i heard “shi4” and in the shops i heard “si4” - so i got used to saying “shi4” in class and “si4” when talking to the shopkeeper or staff. Likewise with the other stuff… i guess for me it’s no big deal because i’m used to adjusting pronunciation, intonation, and vocabulary to my social environment in other languages, as well. :idunno:

[quote=“Speeves”]Is it just me or do Taiwanese often change the ng final into a plain n? For example 城市 chengshi will become chenshi. Or for example 正式 zhengshi will become zhenshi.
It doesn’t bother me too much in that all languages have regional accents and they are neither right nor wrong. God knows I understand Taiwanese accented Chinese better than the Beijing variety. However my problem is when I pronounce (what I believe to be) the more standard and correct pronunciation as taught in text books only to have people not understand what I am saying and sometimes tell me I am wrong and try to correct my pronunciation.

So what I want to ask is: Has anyone else noticed this pronunciation difference? Do many locals not know what the mainland pronunciation sounds like or am I pronouncing my words wrong?[/quote]

Yes, I have noticed this.
(haven’t read all the other posts, so sorry if there is repetition)

In Taiwan you will find they are correcting your tones more than they are correcting your “pronunciation”.
(I am making a distinction here between making the right sound e.g. “sh” versus “s”, and a tonal error. For example, outside of class you probably wouldn’t get corrected for saying [ten] “shi” (2nd tone) or “si” (2nd tone) , but you would be corrected if you said “shi” any other tone, or “si” any other tone.

The confusion really kicks in for us waiguorens (foreigners) when the person correcting us doesn’t have “standard pronunciation”.
For example, you say [ten] “shi” with a 4th tone, and they say "No, it is “si” with a second tone.
Here they are not correcting “pronunciation” but correcting tonal error.

Taiwanese can cope with a lot of different “pronunciations”, but they will always correct you on tones, because they can make allowance for a variety of “accents” but tonal errors become different words altogether.

I often ask my friends to make it clear to me if they are correcting “pronunciation” or tone.
95% of the time it is the tone.

Kryten (that’s tones 2/5 thank you very much)

If I don’t know the person well I ask them which tone.

It’s true, people place a semantic value on the tone at least equal to other aspects of pronunciation, something that isn’t always easy for speakers of non-tonal languages to grasp.

Just as one might not want to live in the US and talk like a Scot, one might also want to live in the US and not talk like a hillbilly from the remotest reaches of Appalachia. I recommend the standard Mandarin spoken by young, well-educated Taipei-ites, with the juanshe in the right places and without the ng > n or f > h mutations.

One way around the tonal error vs pronunciation is to learn zhuyin fuhao (be pe me fe) [ I haven’t :smiley: ] and ask them to write down the correct way to say it.

I find there is generally greater value on the tone. So long as the pronunciation is one of the variations or somewhere in the ballpark.

My Taiwanese wife tells me that I have better “pronunciation” than my friend, but he has better tones.
She says that he is easier to understand, because once the tones off the whole meaning changes.

I guess an English example might be if someone says “My ‘moom’ told me” instead of ‘mom’ we can cope with that variation. (This would be like a Chinese "pronunciation variation)
But if some said “My ‘horse’ told me” that might be just a bit confusing. (This would be like a Chinese tonal variation) :ponder:

[quote=“Kryten”][quote=“Tempo Gain”]

I guess an English example might be if someone says “My ‘moom’ told me” instead of ‘mom’ we can cope with that variation. (This would be like a Chinese "pronunciation variation)
But if some said “My ‘horse’ told me” that might be just a bit confusing. (This would be like a Chinese tonal variation) :ponder:[/quote][/quote]

Your observation is very true. In WTO (the show), Sandra the English woman speaks very fluent Chinese but her tones are all over the place. Very hard to understand.

I am a Taiwanese.