– Representing Chinese Dialects
Spoken in Taiwan with
- to minimize foreign readers’ confusion by
minimizing the alienation of language
As a creative writer writing in a second
language: - to create a rhetorical
heterotopia for readers to be aware of and
to contemplate on the different accents
and dialects of a language
Dialect is posited as the language of difference, in
direct opposition to the homogeneity of the
language of T.V. news, and therefore offers a
greater potential for individual creativity.
The strength of dialect lies in its essential
"otherness", in its position of eccentricity with
respect to the official/native language, functioning
as an alternative, a non-normative deviation from
To demonstrate a manner of representing various
Chinese dialects spoken in Taiwan :
Standard Official Mandarin (Taipei accent)
- represented with standard British English
- represented with compounded vernacular English
Taiwanese (mostly slangs)
- represented with its direct English translation
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you, Mister.
Are you alright?” Noticing he’s a bit
intimidated, she breaks the silence, lightly
waving the stem of her rose.
“A… a’m a… alrigh’… are y… yo alrigh’,
M… Miss? A… a saw yo w… walkin’ l…
like a p… pendulum…” He’s obviously
very nervous, though he intends to be
humorous in front of the young lady.
“Aey, don’ yo worry aboyt me. A
always walk loike dat. Very wobbly,
a’know, some bars wouldn’ le’me in
‘cause dey tought a’was too tipsy
already… hohohohoo…” On hearing
his accent, she alters hers and laughs
vigorously, trying to be disarming and
“D… Do A know yo, Miss?” Lao-
Wu’s loosened up a bit, knowing this
young lady is not like many other
Taipeians who often over-esteem the
“proper” Mandarin and try too hard
concealing their Taiwanese mother
“Nop, an’ I don’ know yo, eitha.
Bu’, aey, why don’ we make
friends? Yo see, we wouldn’ both
‘ave a tornless red rose fer nu
reason. Dere must be some sort’av
divine providence dat’s puttin’ us
together, don’ you tink?”
“Sorry a’m late again, brotha. Wuh? Yo
‘ave a wee lassie friend ‘ere? Wa-li-le,
Lao-Wu ah, Yo old bull eatin’ new grass
huh?” She eyes the young lady up and down
 Wa-li-le: Taiwanese slang, meaning “I
can’t believe it” or “you must be kidding me”;
when used in the beginning of a sentence, it
doesn’t have a specific meaning but functions
The cross-eyed guy is a bit carried away
by the bikini girls on TV, and the buck-
toothed one tells the tattooed one in an
acrid tone, “A-Pia, don’ vaste yer breath,
dis twat vill need te vork fer eight lives te
earn twenty million. Time is money la.
Let’s just bring de birds te Big Brotha;
he’d loike dat.”
A rhetorical heterotopia is created to bring out
the multiplicity of meaning,
the unrepresentability of cultures,
and the changeability of language.
The writer becomes the host rather than the
recipient of the transformed language.
Within the narrative space, the writer creates
a political as well as cultural identity with the
language of her choice.
Something always gets lost in translation.
Many things can always be gained in
Thanks for your attention.