After the KMT blocked the 2007 National Languages Development Act, Aboriginal languages have continued to be sidelined for another 10 years.
This time around it was put into motion by DPP legislator Kuan Bi-ling, with slight modifications to the original 2007 version. The most significant one being in the original act, the date of enactment will be determined by the executive yuan. The new act becomes law the day it is passed.
The new act just passed the first round on May 10th. Now they just need to have every government document in all national languages, and have a translator at every government facility.
What’s the point of all these symbolic movements?
The order of importance will not be changed in Taiwan at least in this century.
How many people in this forum have been living on English only and not even bother learning some basic Mandarin even after getting APRC?
And they expect people to use or learn aboriginal languages?
Article 9 of the act made sure that the government should provide services for all national languages. So it’s hardly as a mere symbolic movement.
While Mandarin and in a much small capacity these days, Taigi, will continue to be lingua franca, with English being the most important language to master for higher achievements in certain sectors, the survival of aboriginal languages depend on government supported language education in schools.
Taiwan is only unique for having a diverse culture. The death of an native language is a loss of cultural diversity.
I think what should happen is that the government should terminate Mandarin dominance and instead give students the freedom to choose two national languages to study from.
Mandarin is to Taiwan ROC as Portuguese is to Brazil. It’s historical fact, and it’s bizarre for people to oppose it.
English native speakers from English-speaking countries are lucky that they don’t need to learn any other languages or stand in others’ shoes.
Even with Aboriginal languages being made official national languages, I’m extremely pessimistic about their chances for survival. Given how few native speakers there are of each language, as well as the strong pull of the dominant Mandarin-speaking culture, it seems hard to imagine they’ll survive much longer as living languages. Even Taiwanese and Hakka are struggling, losing large numbers of speakers with each generation.
At least making the Aboriginal languages official national languages will help record and preserve them, which is valuable in itself. When there are no native speakers left, the languages will provide a rich cultural record for historians, anthropologists, linguists, etc.
It’s hard to imagine it not passing. It’s not like it requires a lot of political capital. If anything, the DPP legislators will pass it because it’s a big middle finger to the KMT, who will hate it. But of course with Taiwan’s legislature, you never know.
Also more than twelve years ago, one of my elementary-school-age students told me that she was taking Hakka (some people call it Hakkanese) for one hour a week at school. Has the number of hours per week which is devoted to teaching local languages in the public schools changed since then? In any case, will this new law, if passed, provide adequate attention to hours per week and method(s) of instruction?
What my elementary-school-age student told me reminded me of my experiences in the fifth and sixth grades in Louisiana in the early 1960s. An outfit called CODOFIL (the Committee on the Development of French in Louisiana) provided our school with vinyl disks that purported to teach French.
We listened to these disks for, I think, one hour per week. Also, I think the school’s lunchroom menu board was in French and English, but I’m not sure if the menu was like that every day.
I remember a very small handful of phrases of French from that disk, and I remember making jokes about seeing the word “poisson” on the menu board. But that’s about it.
In my opinion, if folks really want kids to really learn these languages, they’ll probably either need to develop immersion programs, or they’ll need to get some person or persons like ironlady to design a comprehensible-input-type program (and supervise it to make sure the teachers don’t just end up reverting to older methods that they’re more comfortable with).
And I don’t think that one or two hours a week will be adequate.
No offense intended, and I don’t mean to be a killjoy. Just my opinion.
Anyway, it’s a step in the right direction. Jiāyóu! (加油!)
There are plenty of English reports on the bill passing the committee review, but I didn’t see any of them dig back to last April and explain that it was Kuan Bi-ling who re-proposed the bill and faced some criticism from the KMT.
As far as I can tell, the original poster in this thread is a native speaker of Mandarin:
[quote=“hansioux, post:1, topic:90110”] hansioux:
I’m saying this as a native Mandarin speaker by the way.
Another poster in this thread is almost certainly a native speaker of Mandarin:
[quote=“Gain, post:4, topic:88433”] Gain:
I’m Taiwanese. . . .
And as far as I can tell, the others, those who are not native Mandarin speakers, were just engaging in a friendly discussion about a news item with the OP and each other.
I’m a native speaker of English, and I’m not fluent in Mandarin, but all I’ve done in this thread, as far as I can tell, is to wish Taiwan good luck in the effort that the OP spoke of, if that’s what Taiwan wants to do, and to give an opinion about likely outcomes with regard to the amount of time devoted to learning a given language.
The general subject you touched upon (i.e., what right have we foreigners to talk about Taiwanese matters?) is a somewhat unpleasant one for me, but since it’s been brought up, I want to make things clear as to me: I don’t expect the Taiwanese people to do anything except exactly what they want to do. And that covers whether or not to teach other languages, whether or not to be annexed by the PRC, whether to make things easier or more difficult for foreigners, or just about anything else.