Somebody suggested in an earlier post that Swiss German in Switzerland reminded them of the situation with Taiwanese. I’ve always used a different analogy, that I think fits a lot better. If anyone has been to both of these places, I’d like to see if I’m right:
I think the bilingual situation that bears most resemblance to Taiwan linguistically is the Ukraine. In both countries, there is a local population that has lived there for as long as they can remember. They occupy positions in all socioeconomic strata, but when it comes to the working class and the people of the land, they run almost the whole show. Nevertheless, they have strong local pride, and never let other peoples in their countries forget THEY are the natives, the real and original Taiwenese / Ukranians.
Then there is another group in both countries: the Waishengren / Russians. Each is a minority that has immigrated en masse, almost within living memory. They brought with them great political force, and therefore are still overrepresented in the upper strata of Taiwanese / Ukranian society. Originally hated by the natives they displaced, they are nowadays mostly tolerated with no problems. This power minority’s language is related to the language the natives speak, and has become the official language of communication in each place. But the local majority, if given the opportunity, prefer to use their original tongue among themselves, and on occasion find it a useful tool for excluding foreigners and fellow contrymen alike who don’t understand it.
For anyone who has been to or studied the Ukraine – does my analogy hold?