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I've just spent two months travelling around mainland China and I've just arrived in Taiwan to travel for a month here.

My hobbies are travelling and languages so I'm interested in all aspects of the Chinese language here in Taiwan, including the local variety of Mandarin, the traditional characters, IME usage, zhuyin/bopomofo, and the other Sinitic languages used here such as Hokkien.

So I'm wondering how to tag my questions about:

  • Mandarin as used in Taiwan
  • Other Sinitic languages used in Taiwan

There is a tag but that seems very ambiguous because it could refer to Min-Nan or Hokkien or Taiwanese Mandarin, etc.

I think it would be better to have a tag or maybe or like we have american-english and british-english over on English Language & Usage.

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  • From the looks of it, there are only two questions with the taiwanese tag. I think using two tags taiwanese + mandarin would suffice at the current stage as we do not have many such questions. If I am not wrong, tags that are created but did not meet a certain usage requirement will be removed by the system. – 杨以轩 Jan 27 '14 at 7:17
  • Since this topic got ignored in the beginning and I had some more questions about Taiwan that were not about "Taiwanese" I went ahead and created a "Taiwan" tag and retagged some older questions. But for planning the future of a site, looking at how many questions are tagged which way in the early days is not usually the best method. The system will only automatically remove unused tags. So if we were to say switch every "Taiwanese" tag to "Taiwan" then after a period of time the "Taiwanese" tag would go away, but not otherwise. – hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 7:21
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    But why would you want to eliminate Taiwanese just because it is ambiguous? I mean one tag does not need to say everything about a question. That is why we are allowed to use up to 5 tags. – 杨以轩 Jan 27 '14 at 7:24
  • @QuestionOverflow: I'm just bringing the topic to discussion, not saying it should be eliminated. That's for the community to decide. But generally ambiguous tags make poor tags. There's surely some discussion of good/bad/ambiguous tags on Meta Stack Overflow or in the Stack Exchange blog somewhere. – hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 7:27
  • Some questions meta topics from a much more mature Stack Exchange site which can provide some insight about ambiguous tags: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. – hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 7:31
  • Oh I just found there's even a meta tag specifically for the ambiguous tags problem! It's description reads "Tags whose meaning or purpose may be, or has already been, interpreted inconsistently by users of the site it exists on. Use this tag if your question relates to tags which are are being used inconsistently or are likely to cause confusion.". – hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 7:32
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    If that is the case, then I think Taiwanese-Mandarin would be ok. Taiwan tag pertains more to the location itself. And there is no such thing as Britain-English to warrant a Taiwan-Mandarin. – 杨以轩 Jan 27 '14 at 7:48
  • There is such a thing as "New Zealand English" though. "Taiwan Mandarin" gets tens of thousands of Google hits so it's actually used. But "Taiwanese Mandarin" gets hundreds of thousands so seems better. But that's something else up to the whole community to decide. I'm hardly an expert. – hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 7:53
  • @hippietrail - Just thinking out loud... Is it worthwhile to create a tag for each dialect if we are only going to get a handful of questions (see taiwanese tag for example)? If so how many tags would be useful? We already have a mandarin tag and a taiwanese tag, do we need a taiwanese mandarin tag? Happy for any feedback. – going Feb 5 '14 at 5:16
  • What I don't think is worthwhile is trying to make accurate pessimistic predictions about types of questions. Tags cost nothing and are useful for spotting the questions a user is interested in, even for niche interests. Compared to a big SE site we only have a handful of questions full stop. There are some SE blog posts by Jeff and Joel on how to tag well, and more on meta.SO / meta.SE (they're splitting any time now). – hippietrail Feb 5 '14 at 5:26
  • But yes the thing to avoid is messy tags. Mandarin is a good tag because it's clear and combines well with other tags. Taiwan also works well because there are Taiwan-specific language topics besides Taiwanese Mandarin and Taiwanese Hokkien, such as words used for Taiwanese food independent of which language, or when the asker doesn't know which language a character seen in Taiwan is for, etc. So personally I think "Taiwan" makes a better tag than "Taiwanese". Then we wouldn't need the "Taiwanese Mandarin" tag. Having lots of tags is OK. Having little-used tags is OK. Having messy tags isn't. – hippietrail Feb 5 '14 at 5:31
  • @xiaohouzi79: Also these topics are very well suited to the chat room. I don't think it's been used much thus far for chinese.SE – hippietrail Feb 5 '14 at 5:32
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From a Taiwan perspective, 'Taiwanese' is not ambiguous at all, because it corresponds to 台語 as opposed to 國語 (Mandarin), 客家話 (Hakka) and any of the other major varieties of Chinese you would want to discuss. On a Chinese language site as opposed to one devoted to linguistics, I think it's fine.

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    Yes but Taiwanese also corresponds to the adjective meaning "from Taiwan". So "Taiwanese food", "Taiwanese city", "Taiwanese accent", "Taiwanese dialect", "Taiwanese language", "Taiwanese Mandarin". You can see the items at the start of this list are not confusing but the items at the end of the list can be. You have only shown that those Chinese terms are not ambiguous. 'Taiwanese' also corresponds to '台的', '台人', '台人的', so in English it is ambiguous. Just look at the Wikipedia page for Taiwanese. – hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 7:02
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My two cents.

The 'taiwan' tag is off-topic as it is a location.

'taiwanese' is indeed ambiguous and many times redundant.

'taiwanese-mandarin' is a clear indication of wanting to know how Taiwanese speak Mandarin (no matter if they are actually in Taiwan or not) including idioms, usage and pronunciation particular to Taiwanese people.

'hokkien' is sufficient for both Taiwanese(dialect) and Min-Nan dialect as they are mutually intelligible and there is not enough interest on this SE to warrant splitting them up.

In a post recently tagged "taiwanese" the question is not so much about how Taiwanese (people) speak Mandarin as it is about whether to learn Mandarin(Standard) or Taiwanese(Hokkein). In this case "Taiwanese" becomes redundant. The taiwan tag is also redundant and off-topic because as mentioned above it is a place. 'mandarin', 'hokkien' and 'learning' are sufficient.

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    "The 'taiwan' tag is off-topic as it is a location." This is a non sequitur. It's like saying the "IME" tag is off-topic because it's a computer program. Taiwan is a major place of speaking several Chinese languages with unique aspects not the same as in other Chinese speaking locations. Locations where varieties of Chinese are spoken cannot be off-topic. Locations with plenty of their own specific issues for Chinese language absolutely warrant a tag. – hippietrail Jan 27 '14 at 15:30

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