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.

On the Many Reasons People Study Endangered Languages

Written by P. Kerim Friedman. We often assume that all language learning serves the same purpose: communicating with native speakers of the target language. The truth is that this is not always the case. There are many other reasons people might decide to learn a language: It might be a requirement for school, work, or citizenship. A philosopher might want to read German, and a linguist might only desire to learn enough Japanese to analyse the language’s grammatical or phonetic structure. Many people worldwide learn Hebrew, Latin, or Arabic as part of their religious training and only use those languages in that limited context.

The Status of Taiwan Sign Language in Current Taiwanese Language Policies

Written By Jane Tsay. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in January 2020, Taiwan’s Central Disease Control Centre has been calling press conferences almost every day. However, TV viewers’ main focus during the latest pandemic news from Chen Shih-Chung seems to be on the CDC director and Minister of Health and Welfare. Because of this, many people’s attention has also been drawn to the Taiwan Sign Language interpreter standing next to him.

‘Why Wasn’t She Nominated?!’ The Disillusion of an Immigrant Leader in the Electoral Politics of Taiwan

Written by Isabelle Cheng. For most Taiwan election observers, mid-November 2019 was full of high drama and factional struggle as the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) adjusted their nominations of non-constituency legislators (bufenqu daibiao, 不分區代表) on party representative lists. It was probably less likely, though, that observer attention would be drawn to how immigrant candidates featured on the list. However, for immigrant leaders, such as the one who rang me at 2:20am on Monday 18 November 2019, the two parties’ nominations caused a strong sense of disillusionment.