Studying Taiwanese 學台語

I recently finished a Taiwanese language* course at Shi-Da (NTNU; 師大). At David on Formosa I wrote a post about Taiwanese language learning materials. It contains some information about text books and other resources for learning Taiwanese.

There are also two pages about the Taiwanese language here at Taiwanderful. I recently updated the learning Taiwanese page. It contains some advice about how to learn Taiwanese and some links to other websites about the Taiwanese language. There is another page about writing Taiwanese using Chinese characters which aims to help overcome the common misunderstanding that all Chinese languages are the same when written in Chinese characters.

* I use the term Taiwanese language (台語). The language is also referred to as Hoklo, Hokkein or Minnan (閩南語).

Why did you learn Taiwanese?

I really mean this question. Most expats here study Taiwanese because they wish to learn more or become "closer" to the local people. In fact, I'm not sure if "Taiwanese" can be called a language or a dialect of Fukenese. I do speak a little and find it funny when I meet my friend Taiwan in Beijing...we speak 閩南語 to throw the Mandarin speaker off.


there are lots of good reasons

I think there are lots of good reasons for learning Taiwanese (Minnan, Hoklo or whatever you might call it). The most important one is that it is a language spoken by many people in Taiwan, China and other places. Many people in Taiwan still prefer to communicate in Hoklo rather than Mandarin. While proficiency in Mandarin will get you a long way in Taiwan there are still situations where it is not used. I think by knowing Hoklo you can have more idea about what is going on around you.

I think you can say Taiwanese is both a language and a dialect. Although lots of people would argue about this.

More use of Taiwanese

I studied Taiwanese for a long time and compared it with other Chinese languages: It's more of a language rather than a dialect compared with Shanghainese and other Chinese dialects. Moreover, it's really a complex language since Taiwanese evolved having two languages that stood side-by-side for many years based on class -- notice the numbers and the various words to say one thing? It's probably rare that one would encounter, but there are Chinese in other parts of the world who cannot speak Mandarin except for Minnan -- I had to communicate in simple Taiwanese to a Chinese woman in Thailand since I don't know Thai and she only speaks Thai and Teochew (considered a dialect of Minnan).

Shanghainese is not a dialect

Shanghainese is not a dialect either; it's also a separate language in the Chinese language family.


I agree with you! Actually many Taiwanese usages are blent into the daily life of Taiwanese people. Like pop songs, common slangs, even foul languages, we just can't get rid of it! When I was young, I lived with my grand parents, the only language I could speak was Taiwanese instead of Putonhua! But I have forgot half of them since I started to study in the cities. I started to pick them up again resently by practicing them with my parents and grandmom. It's really a big part of Taiwan experience.
Hey Fili, if you are interested in learning it, I can help you to practice a little bitXD!