Sign Up
Differences Between Mainland Mandarin and Taiwanese Mandarin

YANGYANG CHENG

In our Youtube Live hangout, we answered a very popular question we often get from our students: What are the major differences between Mainland Mandarin and Taiwanese Mandarin?



Script Differences: 


Mainland Mandarin is written with simplified characters, whereas Taiwanese Mandarin uses traditional characters. Sentences follow the same grammartical structure, but some words are written with different characters.  They can look very different, for example:




However, they share about 75% of the same characters! :)


Accent Differences:


In Mainland Mandarin, you'll hear:

  • zhi
  • chi
  • shi
  • 垃圾 (lā jī)
  • + 儿 (er) 'erhua' accent/retroflex
  • More neutral tones: 先生 (xiān sheng),漂亮 (piào liang),东西 (dōng xi)

In Taiwanese Mandarin, you'll hear:

  • zi
  • ci
  • si
  • 垃圾 (lè sè)
  • no retroflex
  • Neutral tones are not always used: 先生 (xiān shēng),漂亮 (piào liàng),东西 (dōng xī)

Vocab Differences (Two Kinds)


Completely different words for the same terms:


English: Mainland: Taiwanese:
Potato 土豆 (tǔ dòu) 马铃薯 (mǎ líng shǔ)
Pineapple 菠萝 (bō luó) 凤梨 (fèng lí)
Bicycle 自行车 (zì xíng chē) 脚踏车(jiǎo tà chē)
Taxi 出租车(chū zū chē) 计程车 (jì chéng chē)
Subway 地铁 (dì tiě)  捷运 (jié yùn)
Boxed meal 盒饭 (hé fàn) 便当 (biàn dāng)
Tomato 西红柿 (xī hóng shì) 番茄 (fān qié)

Words are understandable but used in different ways:


English: Mainland: Taiwanese:
You're welcome/no need to thank me 不用谢 (bú yòng xiè) 不会 (bú huì)
Service person / Miss /Mister 服务员 (fù wù yuán)

小姐/ (xiǎo jiě) /

先生 (xiān shēng)

People of other nationalities

老外 (lǎo wài)

外国人 (wài guó rén)
Understand 明白 (míng bái) 了解 (liǎo jiě)
Girl / Boy 女孩儿/男孩儿 (nǚ hái (r) / nán hái (r)) 女生/男生 (nǚ shēng / nán shēng)

What do you think are the biggest differences in Mainland Mandarin and Taiwanese Mandarin? Share with us in the comments below! :)

Take 1 Month's Worth of Lessons Free

Beginner

Chinese

Intermediate

Sign up for free

No credit card needed Takes 30 seconds

YANGYANG CHENG is the founder of Yoyo Chinese and a TV personality. She taught Chinese to MBA students at Pepperdine University. Before that, Yangyang was the host of the popular entertainment TV show "Hello Hollywood!, bringing Western culture to tens of millions of viewers in China. Currently, she teaches Mandarin through video lessons on Yoyo Chinese, and can also be found hosting educational shows on popular channels like the Discovery Channel.

Fri, 20 Jan 2017 03:15:00 GMT

Sign Up and Start Learning Now

Beginner
Conversational
Chinese Character
Intermediate
Conversational

Sign up for free

No credit card needed.
Takes 30 seconds.