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 gooner » 10 May 2012, 13:51

The way I see it is if I insist on speaking Mandarin to someone who insists on speaking english to me, he's probably thinking the very same thing: "why is this foreigner speaking to me in chinese even though they know I speak good English". Does it really matter what language you use? I can see where the annoyance factor may come in, but if it is coming from a well intentioned place, big deal. If it is coming from a person who considers you as their own personal amusement, that's a different scenario.
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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, 14:37

headhonchoII wrote: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.


Taiwan Guoyu is different to a Tainan accent; Taiwan guoyu is a Hokkien accent. I can't really pinpoint the differences between a Tainan accent and a taipei one for you, sorry :S I'm always surprised that people can tell, because I have no idea. I can only tell when people are from Taidong.

Teddoman wrote: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.


I think it's more of changing what your brain recognises as 'correct'. I think accents tend to stick because we think it sounds weird when we pronounce things a different way, but with foreign languages the different way is normally more correct. Accents in a foreign language can be consciously changed, though you may have a few sounds which you can only make a close approximation of (v is my sticking point.)

I just remembered that one of the guards in my buildings always says 'hello' instead of 'ni hao' when I walk in an out. It used toa nnoy me but now I just say 'hello' when I see him there, because I know he likes it. He used to try and always talk to me in English too whenever he had something to tell me but I never understood him, then eventually every time I saw him he'd start off with 'OH YOUR Mandarin IS SO GOOD' and then eventually I realised that he couldn't tell me apart from the other foreigners living there O.o;


I think he knows who I am now though, because he tells me things in Mandarin now.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Deuce Dropper » 10 May 2012, 15:54

chupachups wrote:Hello.

I am European psychologist currently based at Taipei. I am doing research about social exclusion through language at Taiwan – that kind when people speak to you in English if you doesn’t look as Taiwanese for them even if they know you can speak Mandarin or Taiwanese. I don’t mean that kind of behavior, when people speak to you in English when they don’t know you (and they possibly turn into Mandarin/Taiwanese when they recognize you can speak them). I mean that behavior, when people continue to speak to you in English even if they know they could not and you are trying to continue in Mandarin/Taiwanese (and simultaneously they speak in Mandarin/Taiwanese to others but not to you).

I want to learn more about this behavior from people, who live at Taiwan longer than me and make some interviews with them.

If you live at Taiwan several years, you are visually distinguishable from Taiwan majority population, your Mandarin or Taiwanese speaking ability is enough to make a normal conversation (so you may have experience of that kind), you feel, that you have large experience with the behavior as described above, and you want to share your experience with me (maybe one hour interview in English, Mandarin or Korean), please contact me at:

chupachups567 (at) yahoo (dot) com

Thank you!


White people be doin that shit all the time.

Chinese guy is like: "Hello sir, how may I help you?" and Whitey is all like: "Woah yeow ee guh han-bow..."

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

Postby Teddoman » 11 May 2012, 09:56

Fyi, I'm splitting off the Taiwan Guoyu discussion tips to viewtopic.php?f=40&t=109836 since it's an interesting topic in its own right
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Teddoman » 11 May 2012, 10:15

Deuce Dropper wrote:White people be doin that shit all the time.

Chinese guy is like: "Hello sir, how may I help you?" and Whitey is all like: "Woah yeow ee guh han-bow..."

Sure, but you're in Taiwan, it's not wierd for the whitey to respond in the local language.

Local language being spoken locally by default. Isn't that more normal? The wierd part here is the Chinese guy initiating in English.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Deuce Dropper » 11 May 2012, 22:06

Teddoman wrote:
Deuce Dropper wrote:White people be doin that shit all the time.

Chinese guy is like: "Hello sir, how may I help you?" and Whitey is all like: "Woah yeow ee guh han-bow..."

Sure, but you're in Taiwan, it's not wierd for the whitey to respond in the local language.

Local language being spoken locally by default. Isn't that more normal? The wierd part here is the Chinese guy initiating in English.


English is the default international language, what is strange or rude or odd or whatever about a local speaking English (the default international language) to someone who is visibly foreign? Whitey is too easily bent out of shape these days, just looking for a reason to be offended.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Teddoman » 12 May 2012, 04:03

Deuce Dropper wrote:English is the default international language, what is strange or rude or odd or whatever about a local speaking English (the default international language) to someone who is visibly foreign? Whitey is too easily bent out of shape these days, just looking for a reason to be offended.

Maybe at a UN meeting. At a roadside tanzi, I think Mandarin or Taiwanese is the default.

And no one is complaining it's offensive per se, the OP was talking about a Taiwanese person continuing to speak in English (and probably bad English at that) AFTER the foreigner demonstrates a competency in Mandarin.

It's probably a micro aggression of some sort (in reference to that other thread), who knows. It's definitely just a bit wierd on some level.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby touduke » 12 May 2012, 08:50

It's probably a micro aggression of some sort (in reference to that other thread), who knows. It's definitely just a bit wierd on some level.


it definitly is micro aggression. We should try to find a better term for it though.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby ironlady » 12 May 2012, 11:53

Well, well-adjusted people would call it an "occasional minor irritation" if they even chose to dignify it with a name. But then again, they don't regard such things as crimes against entire races of people.
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Re: Taiwanese continuing speaking to you in English even if they know you speak good Mandarin/Taiwanese

Postby Deuce Dropper » 12 May 2012, 12:13

ironlady wrote:Well, well-adjusted people would call it an "occasional minor irritation" if they even chose to dignify it with a name. But then again, they don't regard such things as crimes against entire races of people.


LOL, I couldn't agree more.
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