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2016 Nov News
Tunes and Tacts of Chinese Music

Many foreigners hold a certain image of Chinese traditions and, consequently, also of Chinese music. A reason for this could be that they have never been to China or Taiwan and therefore, the perceived elements of Chinese culture may have been be restricted to experiences made in Chinese restaurants or to watching films. To make things worse, normally there is no broadcasting of Chinese songs by mass media like, for example, on the radio - at least, this applies to Germany. The consequence is that the perception and understanding of what is called “Chinese music” by the Germans in general is mostly limited to a certain knowledge of traditional Chinese instrumental music. However, in modern Taiwan, besides traditional instrumental music, there are of course many different music genres like pop, metal, rap etc. We have asked a German exchange student about what she thinks about Chinese music.

1.- Do you like Chinese music?
-Yes, of course.

2.-What do you understand by “Chinese music”?
-Mostly traditional instrumental music, but also pop music.

3.-What songs do you like, and why?
-I like Jolin Tsais song “Fantasy” because the song text is really interesting (it is about homosexuality) and the music style is also enjoyable. Most important to me is that I can dance to this song. Besides, the song doesn`t just sound really nice, it also helps me to learn Chinese. And it lets me get to know the music culture of Taiwan.

4.-Where did you listen to this song for the first time?
-In Germany, during a Chinese class. The teacher of this class recommended the song to me.

5.-What do you think about Chinese music in general?
-I think traditional Chinese songs are really sentimental and calm. When I listen to these kinds of songs, I feel happy. Because of this music I feel like exploring and getting to know Taiwan even better.

6.-What is so special about Chinese music? For example, what are the differences between Chinese and German music?
-In my opinion, Taiwanese songs are really catchy, lively and full of emotion. On the contrary, German songs are more severe and monotonous.

7.-Your conclusion?
--I think Taiwanese songs are really lively, interesting, and colourful, but my knowledge of the Chinese language is yet not sufficient enough to understand most of the song texts. Because of this, I want to go ahead and improve my Chinese proficiency, in order to be able to fully appreciate the songs.

“Dinner is served“ – Table Manners Matter

In today‘s globalised world, contacts between Europe and Taiwan are increasing, so taking a closer look at possible similarities and differences of both cultures and learning about their do’s and don‘ts can be key to a better mutual understanding. In this regard, probably one of the most important aspects is dining: for example, Europeans will start the menu with a soup. But in Taiwan, people have the soup served as the last dish, and in Chinese they say: “drink soup“.

Taiwans cuisine is influenced by those of Japan and Southern China. Rice and varieties of warm dishes constitute the main course; most popular and widely spread are “three cups chicken“, “chicken in kumquat sauce“ or grilled beef. But in some places in Europe, like Germany, people mostly consume meat with potatoes and vegetables. Other fancied choices can be cold, simple snacks like potato salad, meat loafs, noodle salad, or slices of bread with spread liver sausage.

Now – which Taiwanese delicacies may appear unusual to the European palate? And – vice versa – what kind of European food will be regarded as too exotic to the Taiwanese? Many Europeans might be scared away from nibbling on cold, cooked chicken feet and probably find it quite unappealing to be looked at by a chicken head from a pot of hot soup. In contrast, the majority of the Taiwanese will feel sick by just even thinking about trying cheese: which is, from their perspective, not more than expired, rotten milk, impossible to be swallowed. Apart from these examples of different taste, certain table manners also deserve attention when it comes to dining out in restaurants, even though you may know the saying „good manners makes the man (but you’ll be more successful without“)!

Here we go and give some insight: In Europe, if you are dining with a group of other people, it is impolite to start eating as soon as your portion arrives at the table. You should wait until everybody at the table has been served. This is different in Taiwan, where most restaurants do not bring all the food and drinks at once. In Europe, do not talk while chewing, or open the mouth when you’re still eating; and don’t munch or burp. Be also aware that in Europe, a glass of red wine will never be drunk in one go.

Table manners in the East include that the younger generation must wait until the elderly ones will have started; or you need to wait for the professionally higher ranking person to begin. You should also avoid talking in a loud voice or making noise while enjoying your meal. Ask your neighbor to pass on something to you instead of leaning across the table aiming to pick something. Besides – avoid putting more on your plate than you will be able to consume, because leftovers can mean that you did not like the food.

In conclusion, it should be mentioned that although there are differences between the cultures of the East and West, in the end, each trans-cultural encounter can be beneficial for both sides as it bears the chance to learn from each other. And though trans-cultural understanding is made up by many steps, in our opinion, talking and dining constitute a good basis for getting to know each other from different perspectives. Therefore, a restaurant seems to be the perfect place for starting a chat, and enjoying something delicious. Finally, being aware of some details regarding table manners might be important to make a difference.

“Fresh Meat” and “Eating Soil”: Taiwanese Slang

Language is an important part of communication. When we start learning a foreign language, we will first need to understand the standard language; and then may proceed to the local slang. This will help us to grasp the specifics of everyday life. So it is with learning Chinese, and here we like to give you some examples of present-day Taiwanese slang!

小鮮肉 “fresh meat” - pretty boy
Meaning: young, attractive man with well-proportioned body
A: Did you see this swimming contest?
B: Yeah of course! There were many 小鮮肉!

“sweet” - cute
Meaning: describes your dearest people and things
A: Have you already seen Amy`s baby?
B: Yes! Her baby is really 萌!

閃光 get - to catch oneself a boyfriend/ girlfriend
Meaning: someone has a girlfriend/ boyfriend
A: Actually, I’ve fancied Tom for a long time.
B: Really? I can teach you how to 閃光get.

魯蛇 Looser
Meaning: someone has no girl- / boyfriend
A: I am already 20 but have no girl-/boyfriend...
B: Haha you are such a 魯蛇

Meaning: talking nonsense
A: I can trink 50 bottles of beer in 3 minutes.
B: 唬爛 -!

吃土 “Eating soil” - to be broke
Meaning: to have no money
A: Let`s go shopping!
B: No sorry, I 吃土.

讚讚讚super, fantastic, amazing
Meaning: to really agree with something, to express total support
A: Hell, Yeah! I passed the C1 exam!
B: Really? 讚讚讚!

媽寶 mama`s boy
Meaning: a man obeys everything his mother tells him
A: Why do you wear the same clothes like yesterday?
B: Because my mum hasn`t washed my clothes yet.
A: You are such a 媽寶!

邊緣人 outcast
Meaning: Person without friends
A: Do you already have friends at the new university?
B: Not yet. I hope I won`t turn into a 邊緣人.

When you read the Taiwanese slang words, can you quickly grasp their meaning? Do you think they are interesting? Maybe they give you a feeling of becoming closer involved in local daily life, and they do add some color into learning the language. However, here we regret having to point out that although slang words appear to be pretty interesting, you will still need to use standard Mandarin first while in class or at official occasions.

Would you like to know more about Taiwanese culture? Then you can check out these websites:

TGOP 這群人