Sunday, July 24, 2011

An Urge to Write Hoklo Taiwanese Found Among Taiwan's Youth

Hoklo Taiwanese is having an impact in the younger generation.

Take a look at this fascinating article in the Taipei Times: Hoklo expands to new arenas — the Web and resumes

How will it all turn out? A root problem is that Hoklo has been treated by the educational establishment as a "dialect." If the Hoklo language had its own places for usage and the students learn to write it as a distinct language, then the youth would be less likely to feel like they need to mix it into Mandarin. Look to multilingual societies like Switzerland to see how that would work out.

They would have times when they used Mandarin to write in certain contexts and Hoklo Taiwanese in other contexts.

Hopefully, the powers that be will not conflate the slang found in the resumes with the legitimate writing of Hoklo Taiwanese.

Hoklo expands to new arenas — the Web and resumes

By Chen Yi-ching and Tseng Hung-ju / Staff Reporters

Sun, Jul 24, 2011

While “cyber-speak” might puzzle those who do not frequent online forums and chatrooms, the unique lingo has become even more of a riddle lately as Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) is gradually incorporated into popular usage.

For example, the term “older sister” would be written as “阿寄” (a-tsi), the term “eating rice” becomes “呷奔” (tsiah-png), “matter” becomes “代誌” (tai-tsi) and “interesting” becomes “促咪” (tshu-bi).

This year, more colloquial Hoklo terms have entered the lexicon of the nation’s netizens, including terms such as “安爪” (an-tsuann, meaning “what’s up” in Hoklo), “休跨” (sio-kua, meaning “a little” in Hoklo) and “啊嗯勾” (a-en-kou, meaning “but” in Hoklo).

However, the incorporation of Hoklo into cyber-speak is not a new phenomenon as in previous years other terms made their way into cyber-speak, such as “凍蒜” (tong-suan, meaning “get elected” in Hoklo) and “莊孝維” (tsong-hsiao-ui, meaning “playing dumb” in Hoklo).

According to writer and Internet celebrity Lucifer Chu (朱學恒), the unique culture of Taiwan’s cyber-speak also reflects the “gang effect,” referring to the trend that groups of friends constantly develop their own unique vocabulary and culture that is understood only be those who are in the same circle.

Chu said riddle-like terminology that requires a bit of guesswork and thought is more likely to become popular than lingo that is mundane.

Chu said the increasing incorporation of Hoklo into cyber-speak is fun for Taiwanese netizens and it helps increase their cultural recognition.

However, despite the creativity and fun of cyber-speak, Yes123, an online job bank, found that young job seekers may be too accustomed to Internet lingo as some of the terms are beginning to appear on resumes posted on the site.

Yes123 said some the resumes submitted by young job hunters were riddled with strangely written words that baffled their human resource directors.

For example, some resumes mixed Hoklo and Chinese, used emoticons or incorporated the zhuyin fuhao (bo po mo fo system), a phonetic system used in Taiwan, to substitute a Chinese character, such as using “ㄉ” for “的.”

Writing their resumes in a linear fashion without punctuation marks or misusing punctuation marks, such as using exclamation marks or tildes in place of periods, was also part of the informal style used by a number of young job hunters, the job bank added.

Yes123 Public Relations director Lin Ming-hui (林明慧) said that although creative resumes might get a potential employer’s attention, “it is not always a good idea and may be seen as an inability to express oneself articulately.”

Wang An-lun (王安倫), assistant vice president of ATEN International Co’s Human Resources Department, said there are many young people writing their resumes in lighthearted and witty ways, adding that about 10 percent of resumes submitted to ATEN used either the phonetic system, emoticons, Internet slang or Chinese-Hoklo terms such as ho-ka-tsai, (好家在, meaning “fortunately” in Hoklo).

“If it was an application for [the position of] sales [person], it may be interpreted as being creative, but it would not be appropriate for law or engineering-related jobs and would prompt a human resources director to worry about the potential negative effect to the company’s professional image and corporate culture,” Wang said.
Lion Travel vice president Chen Cheng-ta (陳正達) said out of 100 resumes submitted to the firm, 5 to 10 percent were found to contain inappropriate language.

“A resume is the first impression a company has of an applicant, and overt lightheartedness or wit has a detrimental effect because it gives off the impression of overt casualness. This makes hiring directors worry that the applicant may lack discipline which could have a negative impact in the future,” Chen said.


Published on Taipei Times :
Copyright © 1999-2011 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Taking action with a video camera.

Calling everyone with a video camera and a friend fluent in Taiwanese, Hakka, or one of the Austronesian languages in Taiwan.

Please make a video of the person speaking the language-- preferably reading something written, singing a song, etc. Ask the person to write down what was said. Post it on Youtube. And we can post it here.

Here is an example:

I found this video posted by blogger David on "浮雲過太虛"
You can find the words on

By individuals taking the time to video others speaking these languages, the person being filmed will realize the value of the language and perhaps start investigating more on how to read and write it. The increase of videos in these languages online and on Youtube will encourage others to learn the language and also the young folks to learn, preserve, and use the mother tongue of their grandparents' generation.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Alarming loss of language among Taiwan's younger generation.

On the Writing Taiwan's Languages blog, "Mr. Biko Lang" raised a concern about the loss of Taiwanese in the younger generation even in south Taiwan. Remember, this is Taiwanese, the strongest of the non-Mandarin languages. If this one is being gradually lost, all of the other languages -- Hakka, and the Austronesian languages are disappearing even faster.

Following is an excerpt of the comment and a response from Aì Tâi-oân.


Excerpts from blogger Dan's comments:

I am worried. I live in South Taiwan. ... But most of the daily speakers are people over the age of 40, and more like around age 50. Below this age, the popularity of speaking Taiwanese drops off precipitously.

The kids at elementary school, i sometimes visit the Taiwanese one hour a week classes with my friend Teacher Hung, the kids for the most part speak Chinese 24/7.......maybe just 10 percent of the kids age 5 - 15 can speak Taiwanese now although more can HEAR IT when their parents or grandparents speak it. However, from my viewpoint on the ground as a non-PHD, i see a dyying language, like Yiddish was for the Jews of Europe who immigrated to America in the 1920s....their grandkids cannot speak Yiddish anymore and almost nobody writes or reads Yiddish in the USA anymore or Europe. It is a dead language.

I worry this will happen to Taiwanese too..... only academics and PHDS will continue to write in hoklo and read it.....BUT Hoklo will live on as a popular langauge on TV shows and in daily life, but it will lost ALOT with each generation and by the year 2100, i worry that Taiwanese will also be a dead language. with just a few choice words used in daily like like BUSASA and AMAH and AKONG and ABEI and AUTOBAI and ASAN and JABA BUREAI and JABA and maybe just 100 words. I just worry. I hope i am wrong.

posted by Mr Biko Lang and thanks, LO LAT

Aì Tâi-oân said...
Here are some practical suggestions that can all play a part:

Begin studying and using the language: suggestion: Maryknoll Language Institute

Start posting updates on facebook, or other social media that have Taiwanese:

Other suggestions:


Friday, July 1, 2011

Mandarin infecting even cultures high in the mountains

Notice that though the Tayal language is used, the children are still being taught in Mandarin.

Children should be primarily taught in their mother tongue and secondarily taught in a foreign language used for commerce such as Mandarin.