Taiwanese - Survival Phrases for the First-Time Traveller

May 22, 2013 · 2 min

Taiwanese is not Mandarin, so if you’re travelling to Taiwan you’ll need some basic Taiwanese phrases to get by.

Because Taiwanese is not Mandarin – it’s a dialect known as Hokkien, and it’s quite different and also quite common in the everyday lives of the Taiwan people. So, if you want to be able to act like a local as you have your Taiwan adventure, here’s some of the phrases you’ll need.

Taiwanese: Basic Survival

Let’s start at the very beginning: Hello. You can greet the Taiwanese like a local by saying lí-hó (for one person) or lín-hó for more than one. Obviously, these are “westernised” phonetic renderings, nothing like the way these words are actually written!

A very common greeting you’ll encounter when entering people’s homes is lí chia̍h pá bōe, which translates to have you eaten? It’s not always meant literally; it’s really a general inquiry to your health and wellbeing. Unless you know what you’re doing, stay with the polite response I am full, chia̍h pá ah.

It’s always polite, in any culture, to ask someone’s name: chhiáⁿ-mn̄g, lí kùi-sèⁿ? If someone asks your name, you can reply with góa kiò ________.

Variously, though the day, you can maintain your reputation as a polite and thoughtful tourist by memorising the various appropriate greetings: Good morning (gâu-chá), Good afternoon (gō-an), Good evening (àm-an), Good night            (àm-an), and of course a simple Goodbye (chài-kiàn).

Taiwanese: A Bit More Advanced

The phrase I don’t understand (góa thiaⁿ-bô) will serve you well throughout your travels. There are three ways people will say Thank you: to-siā, kám-siā, or ló làt. In response, you should say bián kheh-khì, which is just a polite acknowledgement. Also vital to staying on everyone’s good side is knowing how to say please – truly a universal sentiment in most languages – which is chhiáⁿ in Taiwanese.

When shopping, you can ask how much is this with lōa-chōe/chē chîⁿ (and then nod wisely and pretend you understood the response!). If you’re lucky enough to have a sponsor (or are optimistic you’ll meet one there) you can practice saying this gentlemen/lady will pay for everything, which is chit-ūi sian-seⁿ/sian- siⁿ/sian-sé beh/boeh chhiáⁿ lì. Good luck with that one!

Taiwanese: Emergencies

If you get into trouble while touring Taiwan, you can call for help by shouting kiù-miā! And you can ask someone to call the police by saying kiò kéng-chhat. And of course, the most drastic emergency of them all: Where is the toilet?, which you can ask by saying piān-so tī tó-ūi?

You might also like:

Oct 3, 2016 · 3 min

The translation industry is a relatively small one but it’s also a highly competitive one. Basically, do your research on a translation agency prior to making initial contact and it will certainly pay off; perhaps not immediately because there may not be any work available at the time, so just be patient. Your application must stand out above the rest, and by following these simple steps you should have no problem whatsoever in achieving your translation goals.