I recently got into learning mandarin, mainly because I recently travelled to Taiwan and really enjoyed their version of it. Now I want to learn mandarin, possibly with a Taiwanese accent but I haven't found any helpful resources (like Taiwanese mandarin podcasts) or websites that comprehensively explaining the differences. To sum up what I've read so far:

  1. ㄓ、ㄔ、ㄕ are pronounced as ㄗ、ㄘ、ㄙ
  2. The ㄦ˙ Sound is generally avoided
  3. There are tonal differences as well as differences in vocabulary like 小姐

Especially troubling for me are the pronunciation of the Zhuyin/Pinyin characters compared to the standard mandarin accent, as well as tonal differences. Can anyone recommend me some resources that could help me out in my quest to learn Taiwanese mandarin?

also keep in mind that I am an absolute beginner so please correct any mistakes or misconceptions of mine, and also point out any differences I may have missed

Many thanks

Edit: Maybe I should mention that I'm currently using the Practical Audio-Visual Chinese textbook for my studies, however for some reason the audio files were recorded in Beijing accent, so that doesn't help me with pronunciation either.

  • 1
    IMHO, it's hard for you to learn the "accent" unless you live there for a long time. People from different regions have different accents when they speak Mandarin, and their native dialect affects their accent. Actually the standard accent of Mandarin is based on Beijing accent. For me, I can tell the Beijing accent, Taiwan accent and etc., but I cannot speak in these accents. – Huang Dec 27 '16 at 23:23
  • @Huang thanks for your insight, I am very well aware of the fact that studying an accent from outside the country is rather difficult, however that doesn't make it an impossible task, after all it worked for me with English and Japanese. What's holding me back when it comes to Taiwanese mandarin is that I just can't find any proper resources to study with, hence this thread. – BluNova897 Dec 27 '16 at 23:48
  • It may also be worth asking how acrolectal vs basilectal you want your Taiwanese-accented Mandarin to be. At the basilectal level, you will need to pin down a locality: the street Taipei accent is very different to the Kaohsiung accent which is again different to Kinmen and Matsu vs Taitung. – Michaelyus Dec 28 '16 at 14:41

I have watched a few clips of "Practical Audio-Visual Chinese" on YouTube. They did use the Taiwanese accent.

You thought it's in Beijing accent because:
1. They are not professional actors and actresses.
2. They intentionally speak slowly.
3. As you said "ㄓ、ㄔ、ㄕ are pronounced as ㄗ、ㄘ、ㄙ", they just try to emphasize these 捲舌音.

TV, radio and your Taiwanese friends are always good resources.

The most basic one: 注音(Zhuyin)符號發音.

萌典 is a great site. It's not only a dictionary, but it can also read some of the contents. It provides 國語, 閩南語 and 客家語. It's also available for smart phones.


advanced lectures: 中文口語語法與教學

You can search 兩岸用詞差異 for the differences of some phrases between Taiwan and China. Some links are listed below.


(The following information is left here, in case somebody is interested in 台語. Anyone can delete it if you don't like it. I don't care.)

There are many 台語 in Taiwan, such as 閩南語, 客家話 and 原住民語. I guess you are talking about the most popular one, 閩南語.

This page lists lots of resources. (too many to list here)

This pdf file also lists many resources.

There are six volumes of e-textbooks in this page.

You can find many more resources if you google 學閩南語. (Choose "Taiwan" in the "advanced search - region")

  • Thanks for your answer, I think I haven't made myself clear enough. I do not want to learn 台語/Hokkien, I want to learn mandarin with a Taiwanese accent, thus I'm looking for resources on the Taiwanese pronunciation of mandarin, not resources on 台語! Do you happen to be able to recommend any resources for that too? – BluNova897 Dec 27 '16 at 21:36

There actually is a course that distinguishes Taiwan Mandarin from Mainland Chinese Mandarin: Glossika has both split into different courses, much as European and Brazilian Portuguese are distinguished as standard in most courses.

One of the most salient basic phonological differences in standard Taiwan Mandarin 國語 vs standard PRC Mandarin 普通话 is ㄩㄥ vs yong. In Taiwan standard Mandarin it's yu- and -(e)ng, whilst in PRC standard Mandarin it's yi- plus -ong. However there's been some rapprochement happening between the two.

Another ㄥ related pronunciation issue relates to the quality of the vowel of after the labial consonants b-, p-, f-, m-: whereas PRC Mandarin uses a mid-back but relatively unrounded vowel [ɤ], whereas Taiwan Mandarin generally uses a slightly more closed but more rounded vowel [ʊ~u].

The Wikipedia article on Taiwanese Mandarin gives a quick run down. The merging of retroflex into alveolar is mentioned, as is the lack of erhua; additionally in Taiwanese Mandarin there is:

  • greater syllable-timed isochrony; syllables are regularly spaced, with much less difference between stressed and non-stressed syllables
  • as a corollary to the above, much less use of neutral tone

Then there are more basilectal forms of Taiwanese Mandarin, where the accent is strongly influenced by either Taiwanese Hokkien (Min Nan) or Taiwanese Hakka. This (the Hokkien version at least) is what is generally parodied as ㄉㄞˇ ㄨㄢ ㄍㄛˊ ㄧˇ (Dǎiwān góyǐ). You can see some of the phonological changes there: specific lexical interference from Hokkien on 臺, lack of certain glides, and the absence of the ㄩ phoneme (converting it consistently to ㄧ).

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