Sunday, May 27, 2007

the Ideological Language Policy in Taiwan by Richard Lin

Dear Editor,
I'd like to express my opinion about the Ideological Language Policy in Taiwan .
Thank you for the time.
Sincerely yours,
Richard Lin Ren-Jia
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Name: Lin Ren-Jia
No.147, Sec. 3, Baoda Rd., Gueiren Township, Tainan County 711, Taiwan (R.O.C.)
Phone No. (06) 2710766
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(responding to the article  Su wants action on language bill posted on March 21nd, 2007)
The Ideological Language Policy in Taiwan
Richard Lin
Language is usually regarded as a political topic in Taiwan . The fact is even more obvious when it comes to election in Taiwan . Many politicians try hard to learn as many local languages as possible to win their election. Some politicians also considered that they can build a good relationship with local residents or aboriginal tribes by learning local languages. Thus languages can be served as a kind of identity as well as nation's cultures. In the past, we were not allowed to speak our own mother tongues other than Mandarin Chinese under Chiang's ruling. Due to the fact that government compels all the citizens to use only one language, Mandarin Chinese, many languages including Taiwanese, Hakka or aboriginal languages were oppressed. It is this policy that makes us feel confused about the meaning between "national language" and "official language." Also, after the length of time these languages were being suppressed, many original languages in Taiwan nearly suffered from extinction. Especially in modern society, many Hakka speakers turned out that they cannot speak their mother tongue fluently. I believe that it is the wrong language policy made by former ruling party, KMT.
However, when DDP was in power during 2001, they started to promote Southern Min as Taiwan 's national languages, and intending to elevate Taiwanese dialect to the status of "national language." The DDP government also established a bill called the "national languages development draft law," which is aimed at protecting the equality and variety of languages used by different ethnic groups. Still, the attempt to make Hoklo, Hakka and Aboriginal languages become a course in elementary and junior high schools nationwide seems to arouse complains and critiques among KMT officials and parents. The revival of mother tongues has become such a controversial issue that many even doubt the policy is another political concern regarding de-Sinicize Taiwan, winning support of ethnic minorities, or getting rid of guo Yu. Yet, the most difficulty to impose the "national language courses" on school curriculum is lack of qualified teachers and the rooted idea that only those subjects for college entrance exam should be valued. 
The language policy in Taiwan suffers from political ideology seriously both under KMT or DDP's ruling. Either party has its own reasoning or persistence in what should be the language that best represents and symbolizes Taiwanese identity. Taiwan 's language policy is now falling apart. Thus, as a citizen on the island, we should trace back to the essence of our mother tongue. The continual arguments about which language is better are totally useless and may make the problem worse. Actually, language should not be treated or discussed from political point of view.

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