Tuesday's Taiwan-ism {pinyin & bepe mefe}










I'm not crazy & those aren't misspellings in the title...I swear!

Chinese is a crazy language! I thought I knew that before coming here, but seriously folks! Whoever started the rumor that English is the hardest language to learn has clearly never spent much time in Asia trying their hand at this crazy Chinese stuff! {ok disclaimer here...although it makes my brain hurt like never before, I do get a secret thrill at being able to read some of their funky squiggle marks the longer I live here!}

When I moved to Taiwan, naive little Tracy thought she could start taking a Chinese class or 2 and learn some of the basics....no one ever warned me ((please take this as your friendly warning!)) that Chinese is technically not the only language that you need to know to successfully live here.

Cue in...Pinyin & Bepe Mefe  (I'm not going to lie I'm not 100% on how to spell this but please forgive me as you find out why!) I'm not sure where to start so please bear with me!

Pinyin (though not technically used by native speakers, it is essential for my living here) is basically taking the sounds from spoken Chinese and transcribing it into the Latin alphabet. Instead of telling you I live in 新竹 and you thinking I'm crazy, I can type it in Pinyin: Hsinchu. 


An example of pinyin over top of the Chinese characters.

This doesn't sound too terrible until you move here and actually have to read this for your daily survival! For instance; I live and work in a town called Hsinfong, or Hsinfeng, or Sinfong, or Sinfeng, or Xinfeng, or Xinfong...seriously, I've seen them ALL used...read them out loud to yourself though and they all sound strangely similar. So, long story short depending if it was Wang, Wong, or Ling that wrote the word...they may each choose a new way to spell it...not helpful Taiwan...not helpful!

That brings me to Bepe Mefe {pronounced more like Bu-pu Mu-Fu...again thanks pinyin!} which I am in no way shape or form attempting to learn. This is what the kindergarten through 1st or 2nd graders here in Taiwan learn and what adults use when typing in Chinese. Essentially it boils down to splitting characters up into their strokes, and using these  individual strokes separately (as opposed to together making a complete character) to form words. 
  
Keyboard with Chinese characters (bepe mefe) at school