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More Taiwanese Chinese

A while back I wrote about Chinese characters, or more precisely the Mandarin pronunciation thereof, being used to represent the Taiwanese language (台語). I recently discovered another interesting example of the reverse: the Taiwanese pronunciation of a character being used to represent a word in Mandarin. 

First, here's a brief language lesson. The word for internet cafe in Mandarin is 網咖 (wăngkā). The first character comes from the word for internet, while the second comes from the word for coffee. (As an aside this is the word used in Taiwan, while in China they use 網吧 (wăngbā) meaning internet bar.)

Wang ka sign using character for foot

The sign above is on an internet cafe. It uses the characters 網腳 which are pronounced as wăngjiăo in Mandarin. However, Zhuyin Fuhao (bo po mo fo) has been placed next the character 腳. The Zhuyin reads ㄎㄚ(ka). This is actually the Taiwanese pronunciation of 腳, which means foot. 

Net Foot sign on internet cafeHence the sign can still be read as wăngkā, even though the second character is somewhat different from the standard. The English name of the internet cafe is "Net Foot", a direct translation of the two Chinese characters. Hence the play on words extends to a third language. 


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Comment from Mark
Time 7 February 2007 at 2:08 pm

(As an aside this is the word used in Taiwan, while in China they use 網吧 (wăngbā) meaning internet bar.)

You nested parenthesis! Nice. You don’t happen to have a programming background, do you?

Comment from David Reid
Time 7 February 2007 at 6:17 pm

I have a degree in Applied Maths. Maybe that’s were I learnt it. Sadly, I never learnt much about computers or programming at university.

Comment from miao-ah
Time 8 February 2007 at 7:53 am

WangKa? I’m not sure I want “coffee” and “foot” in the same sentence! :P

Comment from Nathan Miller
Time 9 February 2007 at 11:01 am

great lesson…
I have done a couple lessons on Japanese over at my site…always a good post!

Comment from porkbarrel
Time 13 February 2007 at 4:49 am

That is way cool. Nicely observed and explained.

Comment from Alex
Time 16 February 2007 at 2:42 am

I wonder what happens when a user visit this blog without Chinese fonts installed in his computer? Are the Chinese characters displayed correctly?

Comment from David Reid
Time 16 February 2007 at 7:25 am

They will probably just see a bunch a little squares. It is still one of the technical problems that needs to be solved although the situation is much better than it was a few years ago.

This site uses unicode and I encourage everyone to adopt it as a standard. Many Taiwanese sites still use Big5. Sometimes visitors to a site can’t see the characters because they don’t have the encoding set correctly in their browser or the browser doesn’t detect the encoding.