Monday, April 22, 2013,
Taiwanese and Chinese are not the same. Although Taiwanese people speak Mandarin Chinese, some Taiwanese people also speak Taiwanese. I don't speak fluent Taiwanese, but let me at least introduce the language.
Taiwanese doesn't have any written form, so people here will read traditional (not simplified) Chinese characters with their Taiwanese pronunciation. Mandarin Chinese has four tones, each tone making a word have a different meaning, but Taiwanese has I was told around 13. The sounds are not the same at all, although some of the words sound the same or are the same in Mandarin Chinese as in English.
So, now to my question, who speaks Taiwanese? Farmers, elderly, and their children. People age 70 and older generally all speak Taiwanese as their first language, and therefore their children, around 40 years old or older, will also speak Taiwanese, sometimes as their first language, but often as a second language. As for the children's children, age 20 and younger, my generation, some know it well, some know a little, and some know nothing at all. I think it depends on the family's will to keep Taiwanese alive instead of Mandarin Chinese. However, all schools where I am teach in Mandarin Chinese. Some of this information could be skewed based on where I am, however. I am in the north, west coast of Taiwan in the Taipei and Yilan area. I have heard that people in the south speak Taiwanese more than Chinese. I can't vouch for this.
The picture is of my own roman "pinyin" written out for the Taiwanese pronunciation of the traditional Chinese characters. Note: To date there has been no developed system of Roman characters for Taiwanese pronunciation.
Labels: exchange student, language, phonetic, pinyin, rotary international, Taiwan, Taiwanese, Yilan