Taiwanese vs Mainland Chinese

May 21, 2011, 01:26 PM posted in I Have a Question

Dear awesome chinesepod!! I am hoping to head over to Taiwan in about 1 year, for a year to study. And I think it'd be wise to get a more detailed input on the differences between Mainland Chinese and Taiwanese. (Accents, characters, tones, vocab, grammar... everything...) How far apart are the two?

I can't wait for a reply!!! =D

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May 22, 2011, 02:04 AM

I learn nearly all my Chinese from Chinesepod and people in Taiwan say I sound more like a mainlander, although I'd argue that I sound more English than anything else.

People in Taiwan speak very clearly and reasonably slowly.  In terms of accent, you just need to tune in that there is often almost no distinction between 's' and 'sh' sounds, or 'l' and 'n'.  The same thing can be said of HK people too.

The best thing is to just go there and figure it out.  You'll find that Taiwanese say 業務 instead of 銷售, 計程車 instead of 出租車 and they don't use 刻 when telling the time.  The list goes on and on, but it all makes sense anyway and you'll have a lot of fun finding out.

You'll find that many of the traditions which have disappeared in PRC over the past 60 years are still alive and well in Taiwan (and HK) and the food is arguably the best in Greater China.


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May 22, 2011, 11:35 AM

Here is a relevent article I came across today...




By the way, I live in Taiwan now and can tell you that you have a lot to look forward to. It is a great place to live, work and/or study. 


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Great article Hamshank! I'm looking forward to that dictionary coming out.

I also live in Taiwan and will second Hamshank....it really is a great place to live, work, and study, as well as a great place if you love to travel (Taiwan or other places in Asia).

Haimian, just keep studying Chinese (on Cpod and/or elsewhere) and you'll be fine by the time you get here, no worries. I studied on Cpod for exactly a year before I moved here and it helped immensely. You'll pick up the little differences when you live here, so I would say don't worry about that at all. If you learn Chinese for a year before getting here, you'll be 10 times more prepared than 90% of the foreigners here.

Out of curiosity, where will you be studying? I've studied at NTNU (師大 Shida) and I would highly recommend it.

Anyway, good luck and let us know when you get here....in the meantime, if you need any additional info about Taiwan or whatever, feel free to PM me.

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I agree with calkins...thanks for the great article hamshank. Very interesting. This dictionary sounds cool and free to boot.

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May 23, 2011, 02:41 AM

Ever since I started thinking about moving to Taiwan, I've been curious about all the differences myself. I had heard about the major ones from Taiwanese friends over the years, but I was looking for something that tried to cover them all. I haven't done too much looking, but I did find this list of different terms: 台灣-大陸用語對照


which seems pretty comprehensive!

Either way, I'm looking forward to exploring all the differences when I get there. :)

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June 12, 2011, 05:12 PM

The major difference between Mainland Chinese are the characters, accents and slangs&terms used in our daily lives.


Chinese accent: varies from place to place, but in general, most Chinese accents are known for rich retroflexes.

Taiwanese accent: the tones tend to be flatter than Chinese accent, we often leave out retroflexes in speech.

Grammar: the same.

Word choice: there's a big difference in terms of slangs and informal idioms, for example, Mainlanders'd say 土豆 while Taiwanese would say 花生. 

One of the most interesting examples are the diversity of Chinese movie names, usually when a Hollywood movie is brought to the big screen in China and Taiwan, the chances are you would see two or three versions of a movie name.(China, Hong Kong and Taiwan)

Ch name of "Top gun" here in Taiwan is 捍衛戰士, while it's called "好大一支槍" in Mainland China.

Lord of the Rings: China--指環王  Taiwan--魔戒.

To find more examples, please check out this link:



       Jerry(I'm a university student in Taiwan)