Fostering Taiwan’s Indigenous Languages

 The Executive Yuan, the executive branch of the Government of the Republic of China, approved a bill to foster the development of indigenous languages in Taiwan, introducing accreditation tests for aboriginal language proficiency and public signage in indigenous languages. Of Taiwan’s 42 languages and dialects, nine are considered vulnerable (Amis, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Taroko, Tayal, Tsou, and Yami), five are critically endangered (Kanakanavu, Kavalan, Saaroa, Saisiyat and Thao), and Siraya is severely endangered.

The Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP, 原住民族委員會) said that Taiwan’s indigenous languages are important cultural assets and that indigenous languages are gradually dying out amid socio-cultural changes.The indigenous language development bill states that the CIP should work out a system for writing the languages, complete the compilation of teaching materials of the languages and formulate policies for their preservation. The CIP would also hold the accreditation tests, develop a plan to train indigenous language teachers, develop materials and offer subsidies. The bill will be further deliberated by the Legislative Yuan at a later date.

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