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.

  • 2
    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
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 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
    Commented Dec 27, 2016 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
    Commented Dec 28, 2016 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


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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