Transcription/romanization of Taiwanese

I am looking for a way to write 藝苑 with English letters, the main challenge is the 藝. The goal is to write it in way that the native English speaker can pronounce it more or less the “right” way.

Which one of those would you think comes closest to the original Taiwanese pronounciation:


Any better ideas?

By the way can anyone tell me why it is called transcription as opposed to transscription?

ge-oan is the official POJ spelling.

However, if you want to spell it in a way easy for English speakers, perhaps “gay wan”.

Not completely related, but I always think of writing the sounds of another language down in English as transliteration, and recording English speech down in English as transcription. Does anyone else feel this way?

I think English eliminates a lot of redundant Ss in the middle of words, two Ss seem to exist mostly at the end of words but they indicate a longer “s” sound rather than a short “s” sound: tigr"ess" rather than tiger"s".

So I think even though the word is trans + scription, the reason maybe the word has only one “s” is because we don’t hold the long “s” in the middle.

Thanks for the replies.

Chris, what do you think about gae-wan, or how would you pronounce it if you had to?

What’s the purpose of this? The name of a business? Knowing the purpose and intended target readership will help us come up with better suggestions.

Well, target readership, that is a good question. It is part of the name 合和藝苑 of an amateur nanguan group music an xiqu, not necessary too go into much detail here. They used Hap-Ho Academy" as their English name, but people from the department of cultural affairs have complained now that the group is not an academy. It is a long story, and I don’t even know if I have all relevant information, so to cut it short, the group needs a name “in English”, and one option is a transcription of the Taiwanese. Anything will be better than the suggestion from the Dpt. of cultural affairs “HapHo Musical Group”.

Anyone know of a converter that converts chinese characters to POJ?
I would have thought there would be one online, but I couldn’t find anything.

Using a Romanization – especially a Taiwanese Romanization – for the part of the name that actually has meaning in explaining what the group is/does doesn’t seem like the best idea to me.

What’s so bad about the suggestion in English? (I don’t know anything about this group, BTW, but it sounds plausible and certainly it’s not bad English.) Or maybe something like “Arts Ensemble”?

Deep grave dig here to post this interesting historical document from the early twentieth century. Is this form of romanization intelligible to any forumosans?



Sure, it’s Church Romanization. I can read a lot of it, so I guess a native reader could easily.

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Ka-tek pêng-an;
Ka-tek 平安; Ka-tek, hope this letter finds you safely;
(The person she is writing to is named Ka-tek)

Téng-jit ū chiap-tio̍h phoe
頂日有接著批 I received your letter the other day

lóng tsai-iáⁿ só͘ kóng ê tāi-chì
攏知影所講个事誌 I saw all the matters you’ve mentioned
(The author mostly uses ch and chh, but inconsistently switches to ts for tsai here and a few otehr places.)

Lí kóng chhuì-khí ū teh thiàⁿ
你講喙齒有咧痛 You mentioned you’ve been having toothaches

Taⁿ m̄ chai ū khah hó–a bô?
旦毋知有較好啊無? I wonder has it gotten better yet?

Ha̍k-hāu ê chut-gia̍p chhì-giām
學校个卒業試驗 The graduation exam of your school

Káⁿ lóng soah-lah–hò͘ⁿ?
敢攏煞啦乎? are almost over right?
(I would write that last character as honnh.)

M̄ chai tó chi̍t pang chûn ē-thang tò-lâi?
毋知佗一班船會通倒來? I wonder what’s the earliest boat you’d be able board for your return?
(I would say ē-tàng instead of ē-thang, and tńg-lâi instead of tò-lâi)

Beh tò-lâi ê sî lí kam ū beh khì Ka-la̍k hia chhuē i?
欲倒來个時你敢有卻去 Ka-la̍k揣伊? When you come back, do you plan to where Ka-la̍k lives and visit him?
(I would use kám-ū instead of kam ū)

Lí nā beh tuì 神戶 chē chûn, khì 大阪 tō iā kīn ヒ.
你若欲對神戶坐船,去大阪就也近ヒ。 If you plan to board a ship from Kobe, then Osaka wouldn’t be too far a trip.
(I’m guessing ヒ is a repeat mark, or even another k, so she meant to say kīn-kīn)

Siat-sú lí nā ū beh khì, goá ài pài-thok lí tī 三越 kā goá bé chi̍t ki choá hō͘-soàⁿ.
設使你若有欲去,我愛拜託你佇三越共我買一支紙雨傘。 If you do plan to go, I would like you to help me buy an oil-paper umbrella at Mitsukoshi.

M̄ chai boeh m̄?
毋知欲毋? I wonder if that’s alright with you.

Lí ê 荷物 phah-sǹg kánn chin chē hò͘ⁿ?
你个荷物拍算敢真濟乎? Are you already planning to have a lot of luggage?
(the Japanese loan word, 荷物, is used for luggage)

Tsóng sī lán chia beh bé tō bô suí iā sī khah kuì.
總是咱遮欲買就無媠,也是較貴。 Since we can’t find decent looking ones here, and they are more expensive.
(I’m not too sure about this sentence. I might have gotten the Tsóng and bô wrong)

Só͘-í ài lâi huì-sîn lí ê kang.
所以愛來費神你个工。 That’s why I have you trouble you for it.

The End.

I’m technically not an native speaker. However, the letter is about everyday life and pretty easy to understand.


This is still impressive.

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@hansioux May I know the story of how you learnt Taiwanese as a non-native? I am fascinated (and frustrated at my own inability to move beyond swearwords and lim jiu or jiak pa liao) :grinning:

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I just list off the few words I know and then start reciting various MRT stations and see how long it takes them to catch on to what I’m doing. :rofl:

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I grew up in Taiwan and only moved away when I was 13. For most of that time martial law was still in place, and you can still get punished for speaking Taigi in school. So my parents did not speak Taigi to me. Also, most of my childhood was spent in daycare or kindergarten where no Taigi was spoken. As a result, when I go visit my Taigi-speaking grandparents, I couldn’t understand anything they say.

When I was in college and finally am able to visit Taiwan after nearly 10 years, I decided I want to be able to communicate with my grandparents. Being in the US, I started the dumb way by learning POJ and tried to read Taigi, instead of finding a Taigi speaker and start with listening and speaking. For a while, I removed all my Chinese input programs and just typed in POJ and later in TL. That helped with improving my reading skills, but didn’t do much for conversation abilities.

So, I’d say the way to go, and the model to aspire to is A’Iong, who is also a Forumosan.

I think he did it by learning POJ and talking to fluent Taigi speakers. In a few years he speaks and reads Taigi way more proficiently than I do.


Get a printout of the Maryknoll textbook, a (very) patient native speaker, and beer.


Quick question, what is the official/acceptable transliteration for 碗粿

Wa Gui?

It’s oan-ke/koe, leaving tones out!

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Tailo: uánn-kué
Pehoeji: óaⁿ-kóe

A good resource: