The Taipei Accent


Again, sounds like that’s an everywhere thing (at least with English). You tell me how that’s exclusive to Mandarin, because:

“You can have a wicked Bahston accent, but as long as you are articulate, well-spoken and can string words together in a grammatically sound manner, it’s not really a big deal.”


I’ve had more than my fair share of linguistic action (hehe) living in both Beijing and the NE, so I’m gonna be sacrilegious and take the sacred cow by the teats on this one, so to speak :slight_smile:

“Clear” is obviously a relative concept. I can see how the eryin might make speech sound “unclear” to people exposed mainly to Southern Chinese pronunciations (eryin is also used in Dongbeihua, although less so than in Beijinghua). But here’s two specimens of the melodious Beijing pronunciation, the last emp Pooy and the writer Lao She… old enough 4 ya?

Having had intimate relations (hehe) with countless middle-aged and elderly Beijingers, they sound much like this. Not identical to “standard mandarin”, to be sure, but pretty close.

You’re correct that in the past a number of well boyinyuan (e.g. Xia Qingwho who announced the death of Mao) were from the NE. Nevertheless, most middle-aged and elderly people from the NE do not speak with a “standard Mandarin” pronunciation but with a distinctive dongbeihua pronunciation. It diverges from standard Putonghua at least as much as the Beijing dialect does. Specimens provided on demand :slight_smile:


So that’s relevant to a discussion of the fabled “Taipei Accent”, but talking about Chinese accents is irrelevant lumping of apples and oranges.


The thread is literally called “The Taipei Accent.”

It’d be out of the blue if I started an essay comparing BBC English in a Californian accent discussion.

At minimum it distracts.


Yea but you are the one bringing in analogies with English - nothing wrong with that. However analogies with English are allowed, while talking about the actual language in question - Chinese - is off topic. Please…


Maybe not the best examples, as they spoke with educated, upper-class accents. I’m talking about the old Beijing dialect as spoken in the hutongs. I found that pretty hard to understand until my ears adjusted.


I’m using English to demonstrate how it’s weird to put those two variations of Mandarin under the same microscope, in that context.


Its weird to talk about standard Mandarin when discussing standard Mandarin?


It’s weird when you take those two independent standards and try to mush them into one.

You can do this

But really odd if you take the T variety and the C variety and put them side by side and go “which is more correct/prestigious/coveted?”


Yea but the dude is talking about Guangzhou Mandarin, so he is on the harder drugs again.

Anyway there are not independent standards. The standard used by the Republic of China 國語 is based broadly on Beijing speech and the pronunciations were settled and the zhuying symbols agreed on in 1912 in Beijing.


These days the kids in Canton speak perfectly clear Putonghua.


Yea I know (Shhh) Well not all do but anyway.


If you skip to 13mins, there are some specimens of some pretty “unclear” speech by elderly salt of the earth beijinger bird fanciers… most ordinary middle aged or elderly natives of beijing speak more clearly than this (more like the beijing accent of the presenter), but even here, I don’t think it’s more “unclear” or divergent from standard putonghua than that of many elderly dongbei-ers (not to mention middle aged/elderly taiwanese)… sure, if you weren’t exposed to this kind of pronunciation you’d have to adjust, but no less so in the NE (as I had to adjust to the terribly “unclear” -from my perspective- Taiwanese pronunciation)


Well, if you want to stretch it that far back then same could be argued about American and British English. But languages evolve and I’m willing to bet the newscasters on radio back in 1912 are gonna sound different than they are today, in both countries. They splinter off and become their own thing. Woh-tuh isn’t more standard than wah-tur.


No doubt. But the claim that talking about Beijing is not relevant when talking about mandarin Chinese simply does not stand up. Kudos for even attempting to argue the point. Its a long long shot.


You should consult this again:

Totally fine as analogies but comparing under the same social metric and context – nah.


You’re still missing my point. I never said this was exclusive to Mandarin. It almost certainly isn’t; I don’t speak or even know about every language on earth so there’s definitely got to be plenty of languages where accurate pronunciation takes precedence in terms of people’s impressions of you based on the way you speak.

My main takeaway was that there just isn’t really one particular prestige accent in Chinese, but rather a desired standard for pronunciation. So I found it odd that twn888 was making a big to-do about his “Taipei accent” at all.

From what I understand British English is somewhat more discriminating in terms of accents. There are accents only the royals learn and so on.


Wouldn’t you say that someone from Taipei and someone from Beijing would have a varied standard as to what is desired and prestige, though – In a very practical sense, too. Like they would actually adapt it and their friends wouldn’t look at them weird.

My friends and I think BBC English sounds very fancy and smartypants – doesn’t mean we consider it more “accurate” than what we speak, and we’d flip through a million cable news channels on TV or youtube it for days before we’d ever consult the BBC on how to more correctly or accurately pronounce things, if at all. We’d never nudge our pronunciation closer to the British way just because it’s supposedly more “proper.” Hollywood stars did, once upon a time (as evidenced by the transatlantic accent), but they’ve long since abandoned it. Lindsay Lohan has unfortunately become a laughing stock of the industry (google if curious). History has gone and time has passed, desired standards have diverged from each other, nowadays a singular desired standard no longer exists.

Ask @Andrew0409 who apparently had Malaysian peeps insist he’s pronouncing things wrong.

It’s crazy.


I think they are pronouncing things wrong and not using the proper tone. The tone things annoys me. I think there is a proper tone to words, China’s putonghua is pretty much in line with Taiwan mandarin in terms of tones except for accent.


Well if we are sticking with English I want to throw in my two cents.

Lindsay Lohan’s accent is nothing. I have spent a lot of time in France and in the Netherlands and the English they speak there is totally whacked. They have different words for everything!! And the pronunciations are pretty out there too. Especially in France. It actually takes a few months to a year before being able to understand the News on TV even.