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Help with Taishanese
Thread poster: Tomasz Poplawski

Tomasz Poplawski  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:54
English to Polish
+ ...
Apr 12, 2013

My long-time client is looking for an English > Taishanese translator. I first thought it was a typo, plus the typical blissful US ignorance, and she meant the Chinese language as spoken in Taiwan - but no, she wants Taishanese.
Could you please let me know if you, or someone you know, translates into that language? How close is it to Cantonese?
The text is not too large (a 1,000 words or so), and the subject is labor relations.
Thanks in advance - and if you ever need to figure out a Polish dialect - I can help

[Edited at 2013-04-12 19:41 GMT]


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James_xia  Identity Verified
China
Member
English to Chinese
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different from Cantonese Apr 12, 2013

Tomasz Poplawski wrote:

My long-time client is looking for an English > Taishanese translator. I first thought it was a typo, plus the typical blissful US ignorance, and she meant the Chinese language as spoken in Taiwan - but no, she wants Taishanese.
Could you please let me know if you, or someone you know, translates into that language? How close is it to Cantonese?
The text is not too large (a 1,000 words or so), and the subject is labor relations.
Thanks in advance - and if you ever need to figure out a Polish dialect - I can help

[Edited at 2013-04-12 19:41 GMT]



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4kwadCilXI

Here is a video, in which we can see that Taishanese is spoken quite differently from Cantonese. I can speak some Cantonese, but simply not knowing what the hostess said without the subtitle.

Hi Nigerose, you should know more about the differences between them.

Anyone here who may help? Please also come along to give him a hand. Thanks in advance!


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nigerose  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:54
Chinese to English
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点名 Apr 13, 2013

James_xia wrote:

Tomasz Poplawski wrote:

My long-time client is looking for an English > Taishanese translator. I first thought it was a typo, plus the typical blissful US ignorance, and she meant the Chinese language as spoken in Taiwan - but no, she wants Taishanese.
Could you please let me know if you, or someone you know, translates into that language? How close is it to Cantonese?
The text is not too large (a 1,000 words or so), and the subject is labor relations.
Thanks in advance - and if you ever need to figure out a Polish dialect - I can help

[Edited at 2013-04-12 19:41 GMT]



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D4kwadCilXI

Here is a video, in which we can see that Taishanese is spoken quite differently from Cantonese. I can speak some Cantonese, but simply not knowing what the hostess said without the subtitle.

Hi Nigerose, you should know more about the differences between them.

Anyone here who may help? Please also come along to give him a hand. Thanks in advance!


呵呵,斑竹点名。
I can speak cantonese but don't know Taishanese variety.

The following links provide introduction to Taishanese:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taishanese
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taishanese_people

[修改时间: 2013-04-13 01:11 GMT]


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:54
Chinese to English
I still think your client might be mistaken... Apr 13, 2013

You mean she has a written document that she wants translating into "Taishanese"?

I think that's impossible. Most Chinese languages don't have a written version, so it's quite unlikely that "written Taishanese" even exists.

Furthermore, there are literally no literate speakers of Chinese languages in mainland China who cannot read Mandarin. If they've learned to read at all, they will be capable of reading standard Mandarin Chinese. So there would be very little benefit gained from producing a document written in Taishanese.

I suggest you recommend to your client that straightforward translation into Chinese is find for documents. If she needs a Taishanese interpreter for a visit, then she can find one there.

Update:
Nigerose's link confirms this:
Writing uses Chinese characters and Mandarin vocabulary and grammar, with many common words used in spoken Taishanese having no corresponding Chinese characters. No standard romanization system for Taishanese exists.


[Edited at 2013-04-13 06:00 GMT]


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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:54
Chinese to English
+ ...
Written Chinese Apr 13, 2013

Phil Hand wrote:

You mean she has a written document that she wants translating into "Taishanese"?

I think that's impossible. Most Chinese languages don't have a written version, so it's quite unlikely that "written Taishanese" even exists.

Furthermore, there are literally no literate speakers of Chinese languages in mainland China who cannot read Mandarin. If they've learned to read at all, they will be capable of reading standard Mandarin Chinese. So there would be very little benefit gained from producing a document written in Taishanese.

I suggest you recommend to your client that straightforward translation into Chinese is find for documents. If she needs a Taishanese interpreter for a visit, then she can find one there.

Update:
Nigerose's link confirms this:
Writing uses Chinese characters and Mandarin vocabulary and grammar, with many common words used in spoken Taishanese having no corresponding Chinese characters. No standard romanization system for Taishanese exists.


Yes, I agree with Phil. There is one unified written language in Chinese. If the PM is looking to translate a text, any old qualified English to Chinese translator should do. This is different than an interpreting job that involves verbal communication, which may or may not require the interpreter understand the Taishan local dialect, and only to a certain extent.

Sure, there might be some odd characters that could optionally be used to mimic the sound of some regional dialects to cater to the locals; but that situation is extremely rare, especially when the documents are of a business or official nature, such as one related to labor relations.


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pkchan  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 00:54
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
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Some variations only Apr 13, 2013

I agree that the TEXT should be translated into written Chinese. For people with very low reading proficiency, even if the text is written in Chinese using some familiar Taishanese terms, the problem may still exist. Here are a few Taishanese examples﹕

English Taishanese Chinese

America/US 花旗 美國
tips 花利 小費
vacation 稍涼 渡假/放假
basement 土庫 地牢
no space 無處(音隨) 無地方/空間
where 嚀 那裡
here 該 這裡
umbrella 油紙/傘 雨傘
clothes 衫 衣服
tomorrow 天早 明天
go for a trip 撓 旅遊/遊玩


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Rita Pang  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:54
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
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Moderator of this forum
Right on Apr 13, 2013

pkchan wrote:

I agree that the TEXT should be translated into written Chinese. For people with very low reading proficiency, even if the text is written in Chinese using some familiar Taishanese terms, the problem may still exist. Here are a few Taishanese examples﹕

English Taishanese Chinese

America/US 花旗 美國
tips 花利 小費
vacation 稍涼 渡假/放假
basement 土庫 地牢
no space 無處(音隨) 無地方/空間
where 嚀 那裡
here 該 這裡
umbrella 油紙/傘 雨傘
clothes 衫 衣服
tomorrow 天早 明天
go for a trip 撓 旅遊/遊玩


PKChan is right. Technically no one translates INTO a dialect...they are spoken languages primarily. However I can see someone looking to localize it, for example incorporating certain commonly used terms. Unless this is for something like a poster etc...I can't see someone wanting to translate into "Cantonese" either. It's sort of considered as rather "uneducated" if you can't write in proper traditional chinese (used for a Hong Kong audience).

My mom speaks both Cantonese and Taishanese, but the only words I know are 舊金山 (San Francisco) and 阿姆 (older ladies- think colloquial for "auntie")


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Tomasz Poplawski  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:54
English to Polish
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TOPIC STARTER
An important detail Apr 13, 2013

Maybe I should have been more precise about the audience: this is for members of a labor union located in the US.
When I read the Wiki entry about Taishanese, the following caught my eye:

"In the mid to late 19th century, a significant number of Chinese emigrating to North America originated from this area, making Taishanese a dominant variety of the Chinese language spoken in North American Chinatowns. It was formerly the lingua franca of the overseas Chinese residing in the United States."

Would that change your recommendations?


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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:54
Chinese to English
+ ...
Dialect rarely heard spoken in public Apr 13, 2013

Tomasz Poplawski wrote:

Maybe I should have been more precise about the audience: this is for members of a labor union located in the US.
When I read the Wiki entry about Taishanese, the following caught my eye:

"In the mid to late 19th century, a significant number of Chinese emigrating to North America originated from this area, making Taishanese a dominant variety of the Chinese language spoken in North American Chinatowns. It was formerly the lingua franca of the overseas Chinese residing in the United States."

Would that change your recommendations?


From what I've seen at the entrances to Chinese supermarkets and restaurants where one could pick up free publications such as Chinese newspapers, magazines, and circulars, the language used in which are typically traditional Chinese.

I doubt if the descendants of 19th-century Taishan immigrants maintained the tradition of speaking the Taishan dialect. From what I understand, the major dialect spoken in North American Chinatowns is Cantonese. So your best bet is to look for a translator who lives in such a community. As pk and Rita mentioned, the Cantonese lingo has some isolated terms that are a little different than Mandarin.

Today's literate Chinese can all read standard Mandarin. So you're really going the extra mile even looking for a translator that uses authentic Cantonese jargon in his translation. It really doesn't make the translation better, just more folksy to the reader. Sometimes it might not even be appreciated if you ask me.

Here's an old post that touches on the Taishan dialect somewhat. I personally know nothing about the dialect; but the blogger from Vancouver made the observation that it is mostly an obsolete dialect not spoken in public anymore.

http://www.proz.com/post/1588754#1588754

http://btr.michaelkwan.com/2009/07/31/a-brief-history-of-chinese-vancouver/



However, in the coastal county-level city called Toi San, my ancestors had a slightly different mother tongue. Some people refer to Taishanese as a dialect of Cantonese, but I almost feel that it is a different language altogether. It’s a little more crude and has an air of “village speak” for some people. In general, Toi San people can understand Guangdong Cantonese but usually not the other way around. Whatever the case, Toi San was the Chinese that I knew. In fact, that’s probably the Chinese that most people knew in North America up until the late 1980s.

According to Wikipedia, “as late as 1988, those with ancestry from Taishan accounted for 70% of Chinese Americans.” Aside from the people who were brought here to build the railroads, the Taishanese represented the first major wave of Chinese immigrants into North America. Mostly poor and outcast by Western European Canadians, these Taishanese immigrants formed Vancouver’s Chinatown in Canada’s poorest postal code. These days, it’s rare to hear anyone speak Toi San in public. Since my grandparents passed away, I haven’t spoken much of it either.



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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:54
Chinese to English
Not Taishanese, but American Chinese Apr 14, 2013

The answer remains the same: there is no such thing as written Taishanese. If these Chinese-Americans can read Chinese at all, then they read standard Chinese.

Your explanation does make clear, though, that you want a Chinese-American translator, not a Chinese translator. The language used by Chinese immigrants to the USA will have been affected by their environment, and terms for legal things (names of laws, concepts like HSE) will likely be different from the terms used in China.

There's no such thing as a translator into Taishanese, but you should make sure you get a translator experienced in producing documents for Chinese-speaking Americans.


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nigerose  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:54
Chinese to English
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Hoisanese-English Dictionary in Print and sold in Hong Kong Apr 14, 2013

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sze_Yup_dialects
http://asianworld.pftq.com/forum/index.php?topic=23.0
Topic: Hoisanese-English Dictionary in Print and sold in Hong Kong


[修改时间: 2013-04-14 07:23 GMT]


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wherestip  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 23:54
Chinese to English
+ ...
Target Audience Apr 14, 2013

We're basically talking about ethnic Chinese living in North America who don't understand English. In my opinion, by and large these are not the descendants of 19th-century immigrants, who instead have long assimilated into American society. Even if there are some stragglers living in Chinatown who never step foot outside the circle where they live, they are so advanced in age that labor relations are no longer an issue that concerns them.

IMO, your readership is mainly new adult immigrants who don't understand much English. These folks mainly speak Cantonese and Mandarin. And they can all read either HK Cantonese or standard Chinese.


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nigerose  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 13:54
Chinese to English
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Taishanese Apr 15, 2013

Hoisanva (Taishanese) 台山話 – Lesson 13

http://legacy1.net/category/general/taishanese/


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Rita Pang  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 00:54
Member (2011)
Chinese to English
+ ...

Moderator of this forum
Again right on! Apr 16, 2013

wherestip wrote:

We're basically talking about ethnic Chinese living in North America who don't understand English. In my opinion, by and large these are not the descendants of 19th-century immigrants, who instead have long assimilated into American society. Even if there are some stragglers living in Chinatown who never step foot outside the circle where they live, they are so advanced in age that labor relations are no longer an issue that concerns them.

IMO, your readership is mainly new adult immigrants who don't understand much English. These folks mainly speak Cantonese and Mandarin. And they can all read either HK Cantonese or standard Chinese.


I rarely hear Taishan dialect being spoken in public these days. Even my grandmother whose native tongue is that language have now assimilated to 90% cantonese with the occasional odd insertion of words specific to the dialect.

Depending on where they are from or how long they've been around the States, chances are I think a lot of them will prefer reading Traditional Chinese. Just a guess.


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i can help u Apr 26, 2013

any questions u can ask me,it is my pleasure.

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