Language Primer: Mandarin

Mandarin Chinese is the official language of Taiwan and is otherwise known as Guoyu.

Taiwan’s version offers only negligible or technical differences to the version employed in Mainland China following Mandarin’s official adoption in the 1950s; such is the language’s reach, it crops up in places with ethnic Chinese communities: Malaysia, Singapore and so forth.

Read more: Heading to Malaysia? Perhaps knowing a little Malay will help.

As is the way with EITM’s language primers, it would be remiss to consider this guide as definitive. It’s not; it’s barely even correct, and the [redacted] cannot, in good conscience, condone its usage in the real world. Far be it from us to suggest adding a touch of chaos by disregarding such advice, of course. This material was gleaned from exploring Taipei and, as such, should be viewed through the prism of jetlag, neon lights, unending rainfall and the associated discombobulation arising therefrom. Where possible, the words are phonetic, which will no doubt contribute to their inaccuracy.



Excuse me – Quing wen (getting attention) /  Dar-ow yixyah (begging pardon)

Hello – Nee how

How are you? – Nee how ma?

Fine, thank you – Hen how, shieh shieh

Thank you – Shieh shieh

Please – Qǐng

You’re welcome – Boo kuhchi 

I don’t understand – Wuh boo dong

YesShay da

No – Boo 

Good – Howder

Bad – Hwayder

Goodbye – Zhai jian

Good morning – Zhowshung how

Good afternoon – Ziaow wuhow

Good evening – Wanshung how

Good night – Wah nan

What’s your name? – Nee jiow shenmuh ningzuh?

My name is (Thomm) – Woh de mingzuh shuh (Thomm)mu

I come from (Dili) – Woh laiza (Dili)

Where is (the temple)? – (Simiyow) zay nahlee?

Temple – Simiyow

Over there – Zay nah bien

Airport – Fayjee chung

Hotel – Chojien

Restaurant – Tanching

Bar – Teobah

Very beautiful – Hen peow-liung

How much? – Duwuh shauw

Too expensive – Tie gway luh

Make it cheaper – Pian yee yee dian

Check please – My dahn

I want (beer) – Woh yow peejeeoh

Beer – Peejeeoh

Water – Shway

Cigarettes – Sheeung yen 

A room – Fung cheeyen

A ticket – Pyee ow

Food – Shay woo

Drink – Her

Chicken – Jyee

Fish – Yuh

Rice – Bai fahn

Noodles – Meeyen tee-ow 

Delicious – Meiwei duh

What’s the score? – Fenshoo shih duashow?

I like your nose – Woh sheehwun nee duh bizza


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