Maryknoll Taiwanese-English dictionary data available

Maryknoll have just updated their dictionary page with an Excel-format spreadsheet of the content of their Taiwanese-English dictionary. The spreadsheet consists of 55,903 entries, with four columns for each entry (sort, romanization, Mandarin in characters, and English). Here’s a quick sample:

hoan tian 01 hoan-tian 不正常 ,反常 abnormal
hoan tian 01a ::la7u hoan-tian 罵老人記性差 old person forgetful because of age
hoan tiau ho2an-tia7u 反調 sing off key, disagree with one’s companions
hoan tin ho7an-ti5n (ji5n-kan) 凡塵 world of people (Buddhist term commonly used for the world that belongs to people)
hoan tioh ho7an-tio8h 犯著 to violate (the law), to do something that makes someone unhappy

Father Clarence Engler, leader of the dictionary team at Maryknoll, has informed me that there is no electronic file of the other dictionary they publish, the English-Amoy dictionary (the manuscript was produced in the days before personal computers). However, with this Taiwanese-English data now available, it will make a superb base for an online dictionary project (of which more in the coming days and weeks).

EDIT: Father Engler has just emailed to say that the spreadsheet has not been fully proof-read, and likely contains errors, especially in the Chinese characters. Caveat emptor!

4 Responses to “Maryknoll Taiwanese-English dictionary data available”

  1. Jason McDowell says:

    Yes! This is great!

    I went to their website just a few days ago and I don’t think the excel file was up yet. I was very surprised to see the PDF files, since they were not there the last time I visited the Maryknoll language service center site several months ago.

    I’m going to Taiwan for vacation in September and I’m planning to try to obtain copies of some of their Taiwanese-English study books. I hope they have copies available in their Taipei branch, because we aren’t planning to visit Taichung.

    Thanks for the dictionary, Maryknoll!

  2. David L Chen says:

    This dictionary is good, but chinese characters are not necessarily how you would literally write the taiwanese.

    This is only true if the nouns or verbage are the same in BOTH Taiwanese AND Mandarin.

    Two examples that is the same in both Taiwanese and Mandarin is

    can-jia (Mandarin)or chham-ka (Taiwanese) are BOTH written as 參加, meaning “to attend”.

    wo (Mandarin) or goa (Taiwanese) are BOTH written as 我 meaning “myself”.

    Two examples where Taiwanese and Mandarin are written differently are:

    Uncle (mother’s brother):

    In Maryknoll, A-ku (Taiwanese) is suppose to be written as 阿舅,but instead is written in the Mandarin equivalent of Jiu-fu (Mandarin) as 舅父 instead.


    In Maryknoll, “moon” in Taiwanese is “goeh-niu” is suppose to be written as 月娘,but instead is written as 月亮, which is pronounced “yue liang” in Mandarin.

    If you want to learn the Taiwanese…great, look at the romanized pehoeji spellings…that will give you the Taiwanese. BUT, do not look at the written chinese characters assuming that this is exactly how you write using chinese characters. The expression is different.

  3. admin says:

    Hi David, thanks for your comment!

    You are quite correct, the Chinese characters in the Maryknoll dictionary are in Mandarin, not Taiwanese. However, this is intentional on the part of the authors. The idea is that the dictionary contains Taiwanese (romanization only), Mandarin (characters only), and English.

  4. David L Chen says:

    I just wanted to make it clear.

    I am learning Taiwanese at Taiwan Center in Rosemead, CA…where we are learning taiwanese tongyong pinyin and the chinese characters as they literally are written.

    I just wanted to inform people about how to use Maryknoll because many overseas Taiwanese cannot read chinese characters…and probably didn’t see those differences.

    I think the chinese characters will help reinforce that Taiwanese has a written language.

    The fact that Taiwanese is often perceived as a language passed on orally from family and lacks a written form is often why Taiwanese doesn’t get taught to next kin overseas.

    I met people who don’t learn Taiwanese for this reason.

    Hong Kong already has several books on learning to speak, read, and write Cantonese.

    I don’t know why Taiwan should be different. These resources should be more easily available.

    Often I hear from other parents and relatives that chose not to teach the Taiwanese based on lack of written form, meaning written form in chinese characters.

    So as much as possible, resources that show the romanized Taiwanese in direct correlation with the chinese characters as much as possible to reinforce that there is a written form.

    I came across a Taiwanese Tongyong Pinyin Dictionary that may be available to purchase overseas. If so, I will fill you in.

    FYI. I took 4 years of Saturday Mandarin and 2 quarters of 1st year Mandarin, and am fairly comfortable in writing chinese characters and know both mandarin zhuyin and pinyin.

    I can understand Taiwanese better than I can speak it…but confess there is a lot of vocabulary that I am unsure of despite hearing it frequently. A written form in chinese characters is good, and sometimes more helpful…when we are less familiar with the romanization spellings. I have found a lot more Taiwanese resources such as music and youtube videos and searches…using chinese characters.

    The familiarity of chinese characters REALLY helps when looking for Taiwanese stuff these days. It should be no surprise though since Taiwanese is linguistically in the Chinese language family.

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