Shared but Particular: A Proposal to Pitch Taiwan Research in Sinology and beyond

Written by Josie-Marie Perkuhn and Hung-yi Chien. Therefore, we call for a more comprehensive cross-perspective and interdisciplinary academic dialogue to encounter the current segregations and broaden the community by strengthening the interconnectivity. Although some topics, such as identity politics and the cross-strait tension, have caught particular attention in recent years, Taiwan studies still lack some ‘infrastructure’ that helps new students of Taiwan to grow upon it. With this sort of infrastructure, even if Taiwan lose its existence as an independent entity in the future, the shared discipline of sinology researching Taiwan, in particular, will last, and Sinitic knowledge will become the common heritage of human beings.

Matsu Language: A Language Too Unique To Forget

Written by Kai-Yang Huang. In 2019, President Tsai Ing-wen signed the National Language Development Act and announced its implementation. For a long time, pragmatism has had a significant impact on Taiwan. People believe that by promoting the use of English to become a “bilingual country,” Taiwan will be able to keep up with the rest of the world. Little do they know that what distinguishes Taiwan in the international community is the very distinctiveness of Taiwanese cultures. As a result, the primary principle of promoting natural language as a national language is to re-inherit a local worldview that has been around for a long time. This will strengthen the worldwide competitiveness of Taiwanese college students. 

How a Discursive Shift Signals the Presence of a New Liberal, Progressive Taiwan in British Foreign Policy Conceptions

Written by Max Dixon. A debate in the House of Commons on February the 10th saw the emergence of a qualitatively divergent discourse on Taiwan within British politics. The motion, which all parties support, saw Alicia Kearns MP calling for tangible action from the government on UK-Taiwan relations. However, more important than the specific requests made was the nature of the debate and the language used within it to address Taiwan’s relationship to the UK and China.

In Memoriam: Robert Blust, 1940-2022

Written by Victoria Chen. Robert A. Blust, the leading scholar in Austronesian linguistics, passed away on January 5, 2022, at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. This loss has saddened linguists, archaeologists and anthropologists worldwide, along with researchers on Taiwan Studies who have benefited from his work over the past five decades.

Unrecognised Indigenous Groups of Taiwan and their Struggle for Language Revival

Written by Barnaby Yeh. Nearly all Plains Indigenous language advocates emphasize the importance of recognition from the national government. As summarized by Kaisanan Ahuan, a Taokas activist from Puli, lack of government recognition is the primary obstacle to a full-fledged revival. “Because Plains Indigenous are not nationally recognized as Indigenous people, their languages are not national languages. Therefore, we cannot teach our mother tongues under the national education framework.

A Bilingual Nation? What are the Efforts from Southern Taiwan Stakeholders?

Written by Brian Doce. In 2018, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen announced the government’s objective to transform Taiwanese society into a bilingual nation to elevate the English fluency of the Taiwanese people and upgrade the country’s national competitiveness. Looking at the current blueprint published by the National Development Council, the plan’s enumerated key performance indicators (KPI) show a government-centric outlook by emphasising the simultaneous use of Mandarin and English by government agencies for respective services.

The Global, the Local and Intercultural Communicative Competence in Taiwan

Written by Jenna Lynn Cody. Since its inception, the “Bilingual by 2030” initiative has drawn widespread criticism, primarily focused on a single titular keyword: bilingual. Social media posts citing “Mandarin” and “English” as the target languages of “Bilingual by 2030” by Vice President William Ching-te Lai certainly didn’t help. An initial focus on the possibility of making English a “second official language” in Taiwan and a failure to assuage worries that everyone would be forced to learn English made matters worse.

The Problem of Naming the Most Popular Non-Mandarin Language Used in Taiwan

Written by Hung-yi Chien. There seems to be no problem with saying “Taiwanese” or “Taigi” in English. People know Taiwanese is the most spoken non-Mandarin language in Taiwan, and Taigi (Tai[wan] language) is how the language calls itself. However, these names give a false impression that Taiwanese is the only language that genuinely belongs to Taiwan and neglects the existence of Hakka and indigenous languages in this culturally and ethnically diverse country. Hakka activists have complained about the name Taigi for decades. They urge to use other names to call this language and reserve Taiwanese/Taigi for all languages spoken in Taiwan. The Taiwanese/Taigi fellows do not welcome this proposal because there is no agreement on how to call this language if Taiwanese/Taigi is not an option. Up until today, the name of the most spoken non-Mandarin language in Taiwan is still in dispute.

Taiwan on the eve of the International Decade of Indigenous Languages: a comparative perspective

Written by Brett Todd. Amidst the upheavals of this pandemic period, few would recall that 2019 was the International Year of Indigenous Languages, and fewer still realise that the International Decade of Indigenous Languages 2022-2032 is about to commence. Both were declared by the UN General Assembly, a space in which Taiwanese voices are not heard. However, Taiwanese Indigenous representatives have participated in the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues (UNPFII), which joined UNESCO in calling for urgent action to arrest the declining use of native tongues worldwide.

Freedom Where? The Theme of ‘Escape’ in the Novels of Diasporic Taiwanese Writer Hualing Nieh

Written by Fang Tang. In the early 1920s, many writers from mainland China migrated to Taiwan because of socio-political upheavals, thus began their unending diasporic ‘escape’ journey. One of these authors, Hualing Nieh, expresses the thoughts of a generation of diasporic writers, illustrating in her work with particular emphasis the theme of ‘escape.’ Born in 1925 in Wuhan, Hubei, China, Nieh experienced the Sino-Japanese War and the Chinese Civil War.

Eggplantegg: Taiyu Language Proliferation and Linguistic Diversity in Taiwan’s Popular Music Scene

Written by Max Lembke-Soh. EggPlantEgg 茄子蛋 has fast become a significant player. Rocketing to popularity in 2017, EggPlantEgg received multiple Golden Melody Awards and nominations recognising their distinctly Taiwanese vibes, making full use of Taiyu’s broad intonation range to melodise lyrics across a variety of sounds. The band has no shortage of commentators lauding their style, highlighting their passionate use of Taiyu to express everything from love and yearning to relationships and loss.

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