Tuesday, July 11, 2017

2 Months in Taipei, Taiwan

Hello everyone! My name is Erin Mulhearn and I was fortunate enough to receive a grant to learn Mandarin in Taiwan this summer. Its been five weeks since I arrived in Taipei and I am absolutely loving it so far. I am studying at a small language school in the Zhongzheng district called Taiwan Mandarin Institute (TMI). The classes are very small, mine only has three including myself, so I feel like I am learning at a more intimate level. 

Before coming to Taiwan I had a very limited knowledge of the language, I only knew how to introduce myself and a few various words about food. One month into the program, I feel that my Mandarin has improved immensely. Firstly, I knew that Mandarin was a tonal language but I didn't realize the extent to which the tones matter. For example the pinyin for buy is mǎi with the third tone, however the pinyin for sell is also mài with the forth tone. Because English is not a tonal language learning the differences between the tones has been very difficult. 

Secondly, here in Taiwan the people use traditional writing instead of simplified that is used in mainland China. I already knew the writing was difficult but traditional writing is even harder than the simplified writing that I have seen before. However, this was one of the reasons why I chose to study in Taiwan over China, most of the meaning of the word is lost in the transition from traditional to simplified. For example the character for love in traditional is  with the character for heart () inside. This is much different from the simplified as the character for heart is removed an written as . In the transition from traditional to simplified the heart was removed from love which I think removes a lot of the meaning as well.

Practicing calligraphy (書法) at the school 

Being forced to actually speak the language to survive is making leaning the language even easier and its great practice. One of the things that I noticed right away is how nice the locals are here. Whenever I order food everyone asks where I am from, why I'm here in Taiwan, and if I mispronounce a tone they will correct it and have me repeat so I can learn. Taipei is a great city filled with history and culture but I've only experienced a fraction of what it has to offer so far. 

Chiang Kai Shek Memorial (中正紀念堂)
The view of Taipei 101 from Elephant Mountain (像山)
(慈祐宮) Ciyou Temple outside Raohe Night Market


No comments:

Post a Comment