Impressive speech in Taiwanese by Australian representative

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With subtitles in romanized Taiwanese and English translation.

Chau Wu tells me that he is impressed by her mastery of the tones.

Liberty Times Net article in Chinese


Selected readings


  1. Y said,

    July 6, 2023 @ 1:38 pm

    Her /e/ is diphthongized at times (e.g. 0:22 ê, 0:28 puê, 0:33 bē). Is that the usual native pronunciation?

  2. Jonathan Smith said,

    July 6, 2023 @ 5:49 pm

    @Y not in my semi-educated view — but I would state more precisely that Tw. (Tailo orthographical) "e", which I guess is canonically close to a monophthong /e/ (of maybe a titch lower than that representation tends to suggest) seems for bilingualk speakers of Tw./Mand. often to take the same phonetic value as Mand. (pinyin) "ei". So monophthongal-ish Mand. "ei" is a feature of a Taiwanese-type "accent" in Tw. Mandarin for example — thus visaversaish with esp. younger speakers of Tw. tending to use a more diphthongal value for "e" kinda like that heard in the video. (We could compare here Tailo orthographical "o" and Mand. pinyin rime "e", which seem quite different approached independently but appear often to be representationally the same (?) for bilinguals. All IMO

  3. Victor Mair said,

    July 7, 2023 @ 6:06 am

    From Sophie Ling-chia Wei:

    Her Taiwanese is really GOOD! Her tones and expressions in Taiwanese are exactly the ones we use in Taiwan. I am so impressed by her talk. I believe she might have a teacher teaching her Taiwanese regularly. I am so glad that a foreigner could carry this special language back to Australia and I truly hope she could keep practicing it.

  4. DS said,

    July 8, 2023 @ 1:03 pm

    Speaking of Taiwanese (vs or and Mandarin), I wonder if anyone in LL heard about 霹靂布袋戲 (Pili puppet show) from Taiwan — a combination of the traditional glove puppetry, masterful carpentry, and computer-generated-imagery technology (CGI, which was conducted entirely and exclusively in Taiwanese (with Hanzi subtitles though). The Pili puppet show season 1 began in 1986, and still, today in 2023, has not come to a stop! The story, based on traditional Chinese literature — and is heavily Buddhist in its theme and design — simply went on and on and on! Mesmerizing music, poetry, conversations, martial art presentation, and evening the names of every puppet role including the most minor one!

    I myself am a GIGANTIC fan of Pili Puppet show since 2005. I think I've almost watched every episode from season 1 to now. Because the whole thing is completely in Taiwanese, I learned a lot about the Taiwanese (at least the listening and vocabulary) via this puppet show. I was surprised to find that Pili puppet show has a large group of fans throughout Chinese mainland. They were all fervent about the show, thus delved themselves into Buddhology, classical Chinese literature (especially poetry), and Taiwanese learning. Many fans signed up for Taiwanese classes; others self-taught. Fans communicated in online forums via typing Taiwanese (in the same way how Cantonese is typed). It's truly an amazing platform for people in Taiwan and China mainland to mutually understand each other. — Who says that Chinese have not been fervent in learning Taiwanese and knowing about Taiwan and its rich culture? :)

    By watching the show every day I learned almost a hundred Taiwanese songs and could understand the conversation without looking at the subtitles. This Taiwanese learning experience also helped me greatly in the study of Chinese historical phonology.

    However, everything stopped (at least in China) since March 2020, when China censored and banned the Pili puppet show because a few of its staff "distributed Taiwan-independence ideology" on social platforms such as facebook. Of course for fans like myself, residing in the US (or any non-Chinese country), we still could watch Pili puppet show normally. But my poor fan friends in China have to either use VPN or regurgitate on the old seasons that they downloaded previously to maintain their love to Pili and Taiwanese. Certainly, there are also a major percentage of fans who "choose" to stop having anything to do with the show that they used to like, because they want to prioritize "the great patriotism" over "petty entertainment" and are proud of their boycott. Even I myself may be in trouble for lamenting the fall and decline of Pili puppet show in China — actually, on media like weibo, many Chinese fans who spoke for Pili already are.


  5. Jonathan Smith said,

    July 10, 2023 @ 9:17 am

    Interesting @DS; this show seems to use traditional Pòo-tē-hì 布袋戲-type language, which I haven't found specialized studies of. It has to be called "Taiwanese" of course but is so far from the colloquial that the two almost seem to constitute a diglossia…

  6. DS said,

    July 10, 2023 @ 4:41 pm

    @Jonathan Smith — I think the pootehi 布袋戲 language is a hybrid language combining the Classical Chinese syntax 文言 and Taiwanese local lexicon. Its entire script has a very heavy Classical Chinese undertone. I have several friends around me who became interested in Classical Chinese literature only because of the beauty of pootehi language. Communicating with fellow fans on online Pootehi forums using the Pootehi language — whether pretending to be a figure in the drama or using the same language to compose fan-fiction (as I often did) — seems to be a linguistic experience of applying Taiwanese vocabulary in the framework of late-imperial Classical Chinese syntactical structure. Besides acquiring Taiwanese as a second language, I would say it's also a nice practice of applying the learning of 文言 in real-life communication.

    A small experiment, perhaps: Try replacing a few full words / content words (實詞) of a Ming or Qing Classical Chinese sentence with Taiwanese lexicon ;) and you'll find how much it resembles the pootehi language style!

  7. Jason said,

    July 10, 2023 @ 10:53 pm

    I do not speak any Chinese language — is the "Taiwanese" referred to Hokkien or the Taiwanese dialect of Mandarin?

  8. Jonathan Smith said,

    July 12, 2023 @ 3:40 pm

    @DS I see what you mean in part — but both lexically and grammatically, what is in the videos seems less (pseudo-)classical and more simply heavily Mandarin-influenced: in just a minute or so of dialogue, I hear "Taiwanese" versions of particles 嗎 吧 etc., helping verbs 要 能 etc., preposition 讓 etc., which are not part of spoken Taiwanese at all but rather either just don't exist (e.g. the two sentence-final particles) or have totally different colloquial equivalents (要 often = ài; 能 often = ē-tàng, 讓 often = hōo, etc.). Neither are such words at all classical of course (quite the contrary)… the classical stuff we do hear seems to be "khí-iú-chhú-lí 豈有此理" type classicisms… expressions that are doubly striking in the Tw. context since they are not part of everyday speech to begin with.

    @Jason "Taiwanese Hokkien" a.k.a. "Taiwanese Minnan" to be specific

  9. Chau said,

    July 12, 2023 @ 10:22 pm

    @ Joathan Smith: I agree with you on “讓 often = hōo”

    There is an article in the Open Forum (自由廣場) of the Liberty Times Net, commenting on the Australian Ambassador's speech:

    Written by Professor H.P. Chang, former President of Chang-Hua Normal University, the text of the commentary is in Mandarin, but the title is in Taiwanese which reads as follows:
    Lōo Tin-î hōo lâng o-ló kah ōe tak-chíh
    "Jenny Bloomfield is praised by people so much so that their tongues may stumble."

    Brief explanation of the vernacular Taiwanese usages in the title:

    讓 hōo ‘by’ is a preposition used for passive voice, as in this case “is praised by people”. Here, 讓 is borrowed for its meaning (‘by’) but read with Taiwanese sounds (in kun’yomi style).
    呵咾 o-ló 'praise' has no cognate in Mandarin, but it finds correspondence to Old Norse (and Icelandic) orð-lof 'praise' (Cleasby, Vigfusson, and Craigie, An Icelandic-English Dictionary, Oxford, p. 467; Zoëga, A Concise Dictionary of Old Icelandic, Oxford, p. 322).
    甲 kah is an adverbial particle, meaning 'to the extent, so much so, oh-so-much'.
    會 ōe is the same as MSM 會 'to be able to, can, may, will, get, etc.'
    觸舌 tak-chíh means 'the tongue trips and stumbles’.

  10. KIRINPUTRA said,

    July 13, 2023 @ 11:52 pm

    Great speech! She must have learned the language to an impressive degree.

    Agree with @Jonathan Smith's characterisation of the "Pili" 霹靂 dialogues as largely Mandarin-based. (I'm not sure to what extent this is characteristic of the genre. You often hear or read elusive, fleeting comments — "non-fighting" words — on how the language used by "Pili" doesn't do the genre justice.)

    Now one central idea of Chinese nationalism is that the modern “Standard Chinese” has inherited the throne of the old koine and is meant to be voiced “in” the various dialects; this would arguably be the chief modern purpose of the Sinograph readings built in to each “topolect”. This idea is counter to full-blown Formosan nationalism (i.e. incl. “cultural” nationalism), which is not mainstream; but not to “(merely) political” Formosan nationalism, which is, kind of. And the audience & makers of shows like “Pili” would tend to be Formosan nationalist politically but culturally Chinese nationalist.

    All this is old hat, but I want to highlight that it might make sense to concretely acknowledge the existence of these dynamic, “run-time” interlanguages composed of (bookish, written) Mandarin & “dialect” phonology. Otherwise we get these ongoing death struggles between the interlanguages & the corresponding vernaculars. The vernaculars are (typically) so different from Mandarin & from each other that it’s “silly” to think of them as being the same language, while the interlanguages are so systematically similar to Mandarin & to each other that they seem to prove the “silliness” of treating all the vernaculars as bona fide languages. I guess the interlanguages seem kind of frivolous from a certain angle, but they concretely exist, and in the current twilight they seem to be slowly choking the vernaculars that they grow on, partly by usurping the names of the vernaculars; maybe some kind of explicit win-win (or live-live) solution is called for….

    As for diglossia, there are three tiers — the vernacular, the National(istic) Language, & the interlanguage. "Triglossic" doesn't seem to be the right word, but I wonder how best to characterise the situation.

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