If I learn to talk like my co-worker from Taipei, is that likely to make things difficult for me on the mainland (whether by impeding understanding or by arousing suspicions)?

I have no idea if and when I'll visit either China, but I've been considering it.

  • Yeah, you’ll be made fun of - esp. for 翘舌音 problems.
    – Mou某
    Oct 13, 2017 at 15:07
  • 1. most mainlanders have an accent. Fujian‘s is similar to some on Taiwan. 2.there are innumerable resources from which to learn the mainlanders’ reference accent. 3. if you can speak like your coworker, you will be understood. 4. if you speak with him every week you can still practice a different accent. Vocabulary differences may be more tenacious. I have been in the situation, albeit after brief exposure to standard pronunciation. That being said, it is good to listen to the reference accent a lot, because as a foreigner it helps you to differentiate at least some of the many homophones.
    – Ludi
    Oct 13, 2017 at 17:38
  • 1
    Mainland China is pretty big and the accent is quite different even within each region!
    – Blaszard
    Oct 13, 2017 at 18:06
  • No matter what type of mandarin you would learn. I suggest sticking to that type first till you master it and then you study other types. I also suggest you learn the standard pronunciation from the official media, like CCTV in mainland (not sure what's in TWN). Personally I stick to American English. I learn the pronunciation from the American Medias, like CNN, NPR, etc. The problem to learn various types of accents at the same time is you would finally get a wired accent which is hard to be understood. This is why we created so-called Chinglish that is hard to understand by English natives.
    – dan
    Oct 14, 2017 at 0:55

5 Answers 5


below is based on my experience only, read it with caution :) btw, the sampling size is 100,000+, over recent decades.

personally, i think that people from taipei have the highest marks in comparison.

taipei - 100

pronunciation is crisp, clear, amongst all generations. people are civilised, polite and tolerance to mistakes.

rest of taiwan - 97

with accent, very slightly, others are same as above.

i can guess the origins from hearing their mandarin.

native of peking - 95

pronunciation is clear, just the para-language aspects are inferior to taiwanese.

residents of peking have a mixed result, from average to good.

foreigners learning mandarin in peking; errr, they're too feminine. i suspect that the teaching is deliberate, trying to "internalise" a coordinate attitude into the language for foreigners.

shanghai - 90

with accent, still easy to comprehend, again, the para-language aspects are, aiii, you guess it :(

again, foreigners learning mandarin in shanghai, too feminine in expression.

people from hunan, sichuan and fujian, their mandarin are quite difficult to understand.

the rest, the young generation (20 - 40) are good, older one are poor to average.

if you can learn mandarin from a taiwanese colleague, don't miss the chance; you made good karma in the past :)

btw, may i ask, who choose the chinese name for you? it's a very good one for foreigner  😼

  • This is kind of amusing -- from a mainlander's perspective (especially a northerner's), Taiwan's accent is too feminine! Generally, 儿话 and retroflex realizations of zhi/chi/shi are coded as being masculine. Oct 13, 2017 at 20:06
  • i would emphasise the sampling size is several lakh. when foreigner (aka non native chinese) talks in mandarin, i can guess where did they learn; and confirmed in conversation. the taiwan "accent", we would describe it as gentle (溫柔), it's difference from feminine, that foreigners are conditioned to speak with a subversive role, attitude and manner. Oct 14, 2017 at 3:49
  • My unofficially-adopted-sister was raised in Beijing. My given name is Wesley, so I asked her if 衛斯理 (from the Wikipedia page on John Wesley) would be good. She said that 伟思礼 is better. I like the fact that if I put it in western order 思礼伟, I can make a pun about being the guy on the Silly Way.
    – 伟思礼
    May 13, 2018 at 14:36
  • oh là là, a very good pun :) May 13, 2018 at 15:45

It is not "bad" at all.

People speak mandarin in Mainland China and Taiwan can understand each other without difficulty.

There are some word usages differences though, but usually it is not a problem.

  • “Bad” is in quote marks because I put the real question below where there was more room.
    – 伟思礼
    Oct 13, 2017 at 12:56

Taiwanese accent are totally OK, easier to understand than half of mainland accents.

In fact, Taiwanese accent is the only accent that others can understand beyond the sourth of Yellow River. Thank Chiang.


taiwanese Chinese sounds pretty lovely just like a lolita pestering her dad to buy some candy.


This would be the equivalent of asking which English accent is the best, or if one is better than the other.

My Mandarin is from northern Taiwan, and my Cantonese is from Hong Kong, with a bit of Hakka tossed in. I've been told my speaking voice and mannerism is far more 溫柔 in both Cantonese and Mandarin, compared to my English. I guess it's because I use Chinese at home and English everywhere else. Not having to conduct business meetings in Mandarin makes me much more pleasant to converse with, I'm sure.

In my experience with the Taiwanese Mandarin, there is less distinction between 紙 and 子, 詩 and 思, no added 兒, and minimal distinction between 分 and 風. So if I'm speaking to someone from China, I do my best to enunciate, because I naturally don't stress the differences. Some Northerners will laugh at me, while others tell me my Mandarin is easy on the ears, and feminine.

Most native North American speakers would agree that the generic British English accent is lovely to hear. I've been told my Canadian English accent is charming, but to me, it's just English.

I really enjoy listening to Mark Rowswell's (aka Dashan) Mandarin. I'd like to have the equivalent of that, in my French, one day when I'm ready to pick it up again.

So is it "bad" to learn Mandarin from a native Taiwanese Mandarin speaker? If you find her speech and mannerisms to be pleasant, it's not "bad".

  • No, it isn't equivalent. I did not ask which is the best. I asked whether mainlanders would have an attitude problem toward someone who sounds Taiwanese.
    – 伟思礼
    May 13, 2018 at 14:24
  • I saw a video of someone impressed with Dashan's Chinese proficiency. Then she asked him if he had heard of Dashan. Instead of identifying himself, he said, "I have heard of him." Then she said, "Your Chinese is almost as good as his."
    – 伟思礼
    May 13, 2018 at 14:26

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