Taiwanese Chinese

Guoyu Ribao headline wo xuetong JIN lihai

In my Chinese class I have been regularly reading articles from the Guoyu Ribao (國語日報). I have always thought of the Guoyu Ribao as a somewhat anachronistic institution, dedicated to preserving Mandarin Chinese in a form that was spoken in China in the 1930s. This was reinforced during the time I was studying Qibai Zi Gushi (published by the Guoyu Ribao). My teacher would often comment that various words and phrases were only used in China and some of them would even be considered quite old fashioned there. 

I was surprised to discover that some of the Guoyu Ribao articles use some words and characters that are unique to Taiwan and show the influence of Taiwanese (台語) on the Mandarin used in Taiwan. 

The headline in the article* above is a classical example. It is also a play on words. It reads 我學童金厲害 (Wŏ xuétóng jīn lìhài). Literally this translates as "My students golden amazing". The "golden" makes this sound a little strange. However, when you take the sound of 金 (jīn) in Taiwanese it means "truly" (written as 真 (zhēn) in standard Chinese). Hence the meaning of the headline is "My students are truly amazing". It is also a play on words because the article is about students competing in a World Robot Building Championship where they won gold medals. Hence the 金 (jīn) in the headline can also refer to 金牌 (jīnpái): gold medals. 

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A few more examples of "Taiwanese Chinese" my teacher taught me are:

系金ㄟ  pronounced as si jin e in Taiwanese or xī jīn ēi in Mandarin meaning 是真的 (shì zhēnde)  or in English "It's true!" (系 was written as 口 + 系 but I don't know how to type this character)

好呷 pronounced as ho jia in Taiwanese meaning 好吃 (hăochī) in Mandarin or delicious in English. 

* The full text of the article can be viewed here.

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