Word Usage Differences Across the Strait

I was talking with my mainlander colleague today when I asked him about a good 旅館 (lu:3guan3) to stay in Shanghai, of which he then asked for clarification in English by saying, “Hotel?”. It seems that the common usage in the PRC is 賓館 (bin1guan3), which is also used in Taiwan, but to a lesser extent. So before I head off and cause confusion in front of my Shanghaiite colleagues, I thought I’d ask here if anyone knows of an online list of word usage differences on both sides of the Strait.

I’m not just talking about technical/computer terms, of which there are plenty of online sources, but more of the everyday stuff (i.e. gong1an1 vs jing3cha2, ling3dao3 vs jing1li3, etc.)

Thanks in advance.

When I was staying in a cheap hostel in HK, the maid, who was from Fujian, reminded me to hand in my 鎖匙 (suo3 shi). I had no idea what she meant, until she repeated it a few times and made the gesture of a turning key. She meant 鑰匙 (yao4 shi).

“Key” is
鎖匙
in both Cantonese and Minnan. Since she’s from Fujian and lives in HK, it’s not surprising that she uses
鎖匙
. I’m pretty sure mainland Mandarin, as in Taiwan, uses
鑰匙
.

First one I remember encountering was trash can – the hotel lobby staff simply couldn’t understand my question “le4se4tong3 zai4 nar3?”

la1ji1tong3 (PRC) vs le4se4tong3 (TWN), same characters: 垃圾桶

potato: 土豆 tu3dou4 (PRC) vs. 馬鈴薯 ma3ling2shu3 (ROC)

Different provinces and regions also have different word usages. In Hainan, everyone calls a bike “danche”, but in most areas it is “zixingche” (“jiaotache” in Taiwan).

At least in the context of dumplings I encountered pork being called “da rou” (yes, big meat) in Qinghai, though not elsewhere.

Drinking water is “kuangquanshui”, not “he shui”, or just “yiping shui” as we can call it here.

Buses are often just called “chiche”, never gonggongchiche. “Bashe” is common though for bus as it is here.

Pineapple is “boluo”, not “fengli”.

Turn right can be “you guan” not “you zhuan”.

One is “yao” and not “yi”.

The main problem though is the accent changes everywhere and it’s really hard to understand people who pronounce “you” like “yoo” and “bai” like “bei” and so on. And just when you get used to asking people for their “ming pianr” you find that the person in front of you asks if you mean “ming pian”?

My brain really hurts after two months travelling. :stuck_out_tongue:

Yeah, the south tends to use dan1che1 more. All of Guangdong pretty much uses danche, including ex-Guangdong areas like Hainan and Hong Kong.

That’s a good one. I’ve never heard of “big meat”. I’ll keep that in mind, even though I’m not going to Qinghai.

Do you mean “he1 shui3” (喝水, to drink water) or “he2 shui3” (河水, river water)? All three terms above are grammatically different, so it’s hard to compare. I believe kuang4quan2shui3 礦泉水 is also fairly common in Taiwan, non?

I often hear mainlanders over here use the term “gong1che1” 公車, although I did hear someone use “ba1shi4” 巴士 today as well. If they use “qi4che1” 汽車 for buses, what do they say for cars? Jiao4che1 轎車? Si1jia1che1 私家車?

Southerners use bo1luo2 菠蘿, but I wonder what Shanghaiites use, as they’re right in the middle, straddling north and south. MM, how much time did you spend in Shanghai and surroundings?

I’ve only ever heard “guai3” 拐 by Northerners, along with their super retroflexes, as in “you4 guairrrr3”. I’m betting the Shanghai colleagues that I’ll be seeing will probably keep the northern super-retroflexes to a minimum as I think the modern Shanghai accent is fairly neutral (to my ears at least).

This one I never quite understood properly. Apparently, there’s a rule for when to say “yao” and when to say “yi”. Something like if 一 is meant to denote quantity, then it’s “yi”. If it’s part of a series of numbers (i.e. ID number, telephone number, UPC code, bus number, etc.), then it’s “yao”. I’m not sure if that’s correct though so I welcome those in the know to jump in.

Oh, but isn’t that the fun part :wink:. Accents that I find annoying are the Cantonese and the super-retroflex Beijing accents. One of the more endearing accents, I find, is the Shangdong one. Quite pleasant to my ears. I say screw the retroflex if it doesn’t come naturally to you. Many, if not most, Chinese forgo the retroflex themselves anyway.

I’ve been asked to stay in Shanghai for 3 months :no-no: I plan to stay two weeks max and then maybe a weekend trip to Hualien (if direct flights into Kaohsiung or Songshan are not overbooked) before heading back over here.

Forgive my bad pinyin above. I was writing fast and didn’t get to bed last night till 6am (actually touching up photos of my trip).

Not sure what they call just a car. Chezi perhaps like they do here. I only ever called a car something in relation to hiring it: baoche.

No real time around Shanghai so can’t compare the accent.

Interesting that all the south uses danche. Will remember that. I did a 10 day bike trip around Hainan last month but it almost never got started as no one could understand I was trying to rent a bike. :stuck_out_tongue:

Mi3 fan4 for rice, not bai3 fan4 as it is here.

Never call a waitress or service person “xiao jie”.

I wish I had written down more of the weird stuff I heard in Hainan. I simply couldn’t understand a lot of what locals said unless they repeated it in a “normal” way. I figured this out one night when a group of waitresses decided to spend all their time talking to me. They would ask questions and sometimes I wouldn’t get it so they would repeat. When they repeated it was the way people would ask such a question here. It was as if they would mean to ask “Where are you from?” but instead say “What part of the globe do you hail from?”

Oo…that’s a good reminder. Thanks.

So should I say “garçon” then? :wink: What did you use, btw?

In Guangzhou, people use “gu1niang2” 姑娘, except it was said in Cantonese of course. They also use this term for addressing nurses. I’m betting that this term is probably not common across the board.

karaoke …Taiwanese say it as ka3 la1 ok .
jiu3 dian4 is the common usage in China.

[quote] I thought I’d ask here if anyone knows of an online list of word usage differences on both sides of the Strait.
[/quote]

chinabiz.org.tw/integration/language4.asp

I know this link can offer some.
Hope it helps.

[quote=“wisher”][quote] I thought I’d ask here if anyone knows of an online list of word usage differences on both sides of the Strait.
[/quote]

chinabiz.org.tw/integration/language4.asp

I know this link can offer some.
Hope it helps.[/quote]

Excellent link! Many thanks.

For wait staff and such it was fu2yuan2. It should be fu2wu4yuan2 but it seems abbreviated unless people were just speaking it too fast to hear the second syllable.

Yeah, I got a couple really dirty looks and overhead a few “That damn foreigner called me Xiao Jie” remarks before I clued in.

double post :stuck_out_tongue:

[quote=“Muzha Man”]For wait staff and such it was fu2yuan2. It should be fu2wu4yuan2 but it seems abbreviated unless people were just speaking it too fast to hear the second syllable.

Yeah, I got a couple really dirty looks and overhead a few “That damn foreigner called me Xiao Jie” remarks before I clued in.[/quote]

I’ve confirmed that it is indeed fu2wu4yuan2; an excellent tip MM, otherwise, I’d be getting those dirty “he called me xiaojie” looks as well. On the plane, they are to be known as kong1fu2yuan2.

Had lunch yesterday with 7 colleagues with 7 different regional accents, ranging from the north to the west to the south. Sure was interesting trying to sort through 'em all at full speed. Luckily, no one spoke with super-super-rrrrrr’s.

I thought that I may be able to understand at least a few Shanghainese words here and there. Turns out I can’t understand a bloody thing they say. Like Taiwan, some of the taxi drivers’ “Mandarin” ain’t exactly Mandarin. Oh well…perhaps I can pick up a Shanghainese 101 phrase book at the local book store.

Both fuwuyuan and fyuan are fine. Frankly I like the slur option of using xiaojie. Endured shoddy service? “Xiaojie!”

HG

That’s a good one. I’ve never heard of “big meat”. I’ll keep that in mind, even though I’m not going to Qinghai.[/quote]

When I go to a taquerias in the US, the meat options are usually chicken, beef, and carnitas. Carnitas is a specially prepared pork. It’ means “little meats”!

Mmmm, carnitas! :hungry:

Costco had foil tins of carnitas meat late last year, and it made great tacos. :smiley: (It’s fried pork, not diet food.) Dunno if they still have it.

That’s a good one. I’ve never heard of “big meat”. I’ll keep that in mind, even though I’m not going to Qinghai.[/quote]

When I go to a taquerias in the US, the meat options are usually chicken, beef, and carnitas. Carnitas is a specially prepared pork. It’ means “little meats”![/quote]

You muuuuuuuuuuuuuuust go to Mexico then and have the best tacos in the world… it would just be a sin not to do so.

Don’t forget that they also have fish meat too, but it’s not that common at taco stands. Taco stands usually only serve fish in their tacos if they are close to the Beach (like in California or near the beach in Mexico).

Drahonbones,

I haven’t had tacos forever. Someone needs to make a taco stand here in little Taiwan. not sure of the taiwanese would like tacos though.