Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Teddoman » 09 May 2012, 23:31

tsukinodeynatsu wrote:
headhonchoII wrote:It happens because you look like a white or non Asian, doesn't matter if you are fluent in Chinese or speak German or whatever.


It very, very rarely happens with me, and only when I go to Taipei or Yilan. And even still, very, very rarely, like maybe once out of about ten trips.

I'm white, short, slim, brown hair, and speak Mandarin almost like a Tainan native. As in, when I go to Taipei the taxi drivers all know that I live in Tainan @.@;

I'm not sure if it's because I'm short and therefore don't quite meet the 'foreigner' expectation or if it's because I hardly sound foreign at all. I'm kind of leaning towards the latter, but I've never heard any of you other fluent speakers on here speak so I have no idea, but all the fluent speakers I have heard sound pretty non-native to my ears, which has always surprised me.

Accents aren't a static thing, to be fair. My accent depends on who I've hung out with in recent months and recent days. But over the phone, most mainlanders think I'm Taiwanese. The Taiwanese I speak to on the phone know I'm not a native Taiwanese, but that's after years of my being back in the US. A month vacation hanging out in the south could do my accent wonders. Though I might end up with Taiwanese dialect envy, so I should just put that thought out of my mind before I go off trying to achieve that mirage.

Can anyone here do a good Chen Shui Bian style Taiwan guoyu accent? I have been dying to figure out how to do one of those so I can entertain friends. If anyone has some tips on what makes a good thick Taiwan guoyu accent, do share :)
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby tsukinodeynatsu » 10 May 2012, 00:37

Teddoman wrote:Can anyone here do a good Chen Shui Bian style Taiwan guoyu accent? I have been dying to figure out how to do one of those so I can entertain friends. If anyone has some tips on what makes a good thick Taiwan guoyu accent, do share :)



I occasionally come out with it on a few words, but I try not to XD

My linguistics are shocking, but to my ears I think a Taiwan guoyu accent needs to be kind of:

f = the 'hw' sound at the beginning of 婚
m = somewhere between an 'm' and a 'b'

Umm umm umm... what else? The vowel sound in 'shi' ((pinyin) or similar) closer to an 'ee' sound. R's said as L's (cutting a fine line with D too, I think).

Drop the h's after any consonent. SH = S ZH = Z CH = C etc. J's are said somewhere inbetween J and (English) Z.

These should get you merrily on your way :bow:

And in order to write this, I had to actually go and find out what CSB sounded like when he spoke (to check which accent you meant). It took me around five minutes to find a clip that wasn't in Taiwanese, and now I can't get over how Taike he sounds in Mandarin O.o; (His Taiwanese sounds very cultured, though.)
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby shengou » 10 May 2012, 08:02

A couple more things for Taiwan Guoyu.

uo - change to ou
ian - change to en
the u sound in 女 - change to more of an i sound (this one is harder to explain)

So zuo bian de nv hai would be closer to zou ben de ni hai. Then throw in a couple hou's and voila, your Guoyu changes to Taiwan Gouyi.

Also, you need to have a choppy cadence.


As for the accent thing, I didn't want to bring it up myself, but yes, other foreigner's accents are not that great. My accent and tones only slip when I have to think hard about how to say something in Mandarin. But for everything else, it sounds close enough to a native speaker that Taiwanese won't think I'm a foreigner if they don't see my face, although my grammar's still not perfect.
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Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby headhonchoII » 10 May 2012, 08:22

You mean they never speak English to you in 711, McDonalds , restaurants delivery men etc etc. It doesn't matter about you have Chinese or not , they just want to practice the bits of English they have with the 'foreigner'.
Sure most people don't this, its a minority, but even on the road I live on the security guards constantly say good morning to me. Nice people, but a tad annoying even if meant in a friendly manner. A simple ni hao or zao an would do just fine. Not only that they say it to my Taiwanese kid too all the time, he gets about 10 hellos a day because he looks mixed. No other reason. It's all about looks and what they want to say, it's not about having a conversation.

Everything in Taiwan is pigeon holed. Stereotyped. Watch any show with foreigners on it and the German will represent all of Germany, the polish person all of Poland etc. Its always prefaced with 'you' and us with 'we'

And why should I need to speak excellent Taiwan Guoyu, not that I or every Taiwanese want to speak with a Tainan CSB accent either. My wife is hakka for instance , and constantly gets badgered for not speaking Taiwanese as if she is somebody from Taipei who is not a true 'Taiwanese'. You should see their red faces when she tells them she is Hakka, it slowly dawns on them how ignorant they have been. BTW this is exactly why the DPP aren't able to get enough votes.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Teddoman » 10 May 2012, 10:00

These are great tips for "Taiwan guoyu" (i.e. Mandarin spoken with a thick accent of someone who mainly speaks Taiwanese). When I watched clips myself, the f being pronounced as an h was the only thing I could really come up with myself. There used to be a lot of Taiwanese comedy shows (probably still are) that do the Taiwan guoyu shtick. But I just couldn't ever break down the accent into parts like this.

As for the accent component of treating foreigners differently, I think the "other" classification applies to pretty much anyone, even ABCs. It's not so much the look itself, as it is the belief about the person's native language which is often drawn from stereotypes. Being white automatically translates to a belief that you're foreign, even if you're a mixed kid who has never stepped foot outside of Taiwan. Having a slight accent or different cadence or slight errors in word choice or grammar will have the same result.

Anyway, it's pretty much impossible for most foreigners to develop native accents, so it's not worth worrying over. I think I read in a parenting book that a baby's ear for native language is developed in the first year of life. You could probably stretch that to about 5, from people I've met with native accents who moved early enough. After that, the clay hardens and you can kind of push it this way or that but those underlying sounds you're able to make are not going to change as much as it can for a toddler. Young people who have learned more languages may be a bit better at picking out new sounds and imitating them. However, Americans are mostly monolingual, so most Americans at least coming to Taiwan in their 20s are almost all at a disadvantage. You'd almost have to get professional speech therapy or something to really make any changes to one's accent in your late 20s or 30s and beyond.

The funny thing is that Mandarin learned in Taiwan really is a very southern style. I've met a lot of mainlanders in the US with accents from all over the board (and a pain to understand). So even if you consider your Mandarin to be heavily accented with an American accent, mainlanders may still be able to pick up on the fact that you learned it in Taiwan.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby chupachups » 10 May 2012, 11:07

Teddoman wrote:chupachups what's your end game on this? Co-write a paper with ironlady? Treat lots of expats complaining about this problem?



:-) Maybe I will write some paper. However, first I should understand better the phenomenon - how it occurs and to whom - and that is why I should speak with some more experienced people.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby shengou » 10 May 2012, 11:58

Headhoncho you seem to be overly sensitive. This thread is about people who continue to speak to you in English even after they know you speak Mandarin. It's not about people who don't know and they start speaking to you in English. I don't even know why that's a big deal. The majority of foreigners in Taiwan, or at least western foreigners, don't speak Mandarin. Even so, I only rarely get someone who starts speaking in English at Mcdonalds or 7-11. Once in a blue moon. Usually I can tell if they will, because as I'm walking up to the counter they start looking really nervous. Then they'll say a few things in English, I'll reply in Mandarin, and they'll be instantly relieved, because they know that they can communicate with me. It's more an issue of communication, I would say.

The Taiwan Guoyu tips are only because someone asked how to imitate a Taiwan Guoyu accent. I didn't say that you have to speak Taiwan Guoyu to get them to speak to you in Mandarin. The only time I ever do is when I'm joking around.

I agree 100% about the TV shows, though. They piss me off too.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby shengou » 10 May 2012, 12:05

Teddoman wrote:These are great tips for "Taiwan guoyu" (i.e. Mandarin spoken with a thick accent of someone who mainly speaks Taiwanese). When I watched clips myself, the f being pronounced as an h was the only thing I could really come up with myself. There used to be a lot of Taiwanese comedy shows (probably still are) that do the Taiwan guoyu shtick. But I just couldn't ever break down the accent into parts like this.


I thought of a couple others. chi fan would be cu huan. But I don't know what the rule is for that. I've only ever noticed the "ir" sound in chi changing. I can't remember if they do it for other "ir" sounds like "shi" or "zhi". Maybe they do. So maybe zhi dao changes to zu dao. Also, the w sound in wo is very slight. It's close to just being an o.

Xie xie changes to seh seh.
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Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby headhonchoII » 10 May 2012, 12:51

Teddoman my accent in English has changed enormously from living in Taiwan. My original accent was hardly comprehensible to the locals who are used to American English, I also had to slow down and simplify my speech. Simple things like pronouncing vowels through my nose more were crucial, seriously it's the key to Americanising my accent slightly and being understood. When I go back to my home country people can definitely pick up I have not lived there in a long time. I've seen this happen with many people who have lived in Asia a long time, even older people.
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Chasin' down a hoodoo there.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Omniloquacious » 10 May 2012, 13:19

headhonchoII wrote:There is a competitive instinct at work. They see you, a foreigner, speak their language , and it rankles them and seems to remind them that they 'should' be speaking English too.


And I suspect there's an element of face involved.

To some people, it might represent a loss of face to concede that a foreigner speak's one's language better than one speaks the foreigner language (English).

headhonchoII wrote: my accent in English has changed enormously from living in Taiwan. ... When I go back to my home country people can definitely pick up I have not lived there in a long time. I've seen this happen with many people who have lived in Asia a long time, even older people.


I'm sure my accent has changed out of all recognition, and has all but completely lost its former RP plumminess. I hardly ever get to speak to fellow Brits. I'm quite sure I haven't exchanged a single word with anyone from the old country for at least 18 months, and I haven't been back to the UK in more than a decade. I sometimes wonder how quickly I'd regain the old accent if I did go back, or if I'd ever regain it at all.
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