Written Taiwanese and Cantonese

With the mercury in Taipei rising incessantly (roads have started melting and all), it seemed as good a time as any to expand the horizons of Sinoglot’s coverage to the Pénghú 澎湖 archipelago, a group of islands in the Strait of Taiwan. Fishing and tourism are the mainstays of the economy on these islands, which are also known in Taiwan for their boisterous religious festivals and the well-preserved local culture.

So, with a little trepidation at flying in a little turboprop plane for the first time, your correspondent bravely went where no Sinoglot post had gone before. It soon turned out that the preservation of the islands’ local culture extends to its language: unlike in Taipei, Taiwanese (Mǐnnányǔ 閩南語 / Táiyǔ 台語) is still going strong on these islands – you hardly hear any Mandarin on the streets, even among the younger generations. I asked a few islanders and they all agreed that almost all kids are still learning how to speak Taiwanese and using it actively in everyday life, again unlike in Taipei.


An island on an island

Northeast China is hoary in winter (and the winter lasts at least ten months) and torrid in summer, which means that you have to have a lot of different kinds of clothes, not to mention that you have to wear many layers of them all throughout the winter, which makes it difficult to bathe frequently.

The predominant language there is the northeast topolect of Mandarin, 东北话 (dōngběihuà), and that has some interesting features, which I might from time to time continue to blog about.

But I got sick of having it be 12ºC indoors for five months (and the average outdoor temperature all year is less than 5ºC!) and moved south to an island on an island…. Continue…

When "Chinese" Doesn’t Mean Mandarin

The following is a guest post by Ty Lim, who served as president of Gaginang — a US-based nonprofit that promotes Teochew culture, language, and identity — from 2005 to 2009.

Outside of China proper, in cities around the world, what’s the lingua franca for communities of the Chinese diaspora? Your first instinct will be to say “Pshaw! In this globalized day and age, it certainly is Mandarin, 普通話, 國語, one people, one language bla bla bla.” This may be true for many cosmopolitan places such as Singapore, New York, and Paris but there are still many places where different dialects are the standard. Continue…