President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Vice President William Lai (賴清德) and Legislative Speaker You Si-kun (游錫堃) yesterday encouraged Taiwanese to celebrate their languages and culture on International Mother Language Day.
The day is observed annually on Feb. 21, as designated by UNESCO.
“Taiwan’s various languages and cultures make Taiwan unique,” Tsai said in an interview on ICRT’s We Love Hakka program, the United Daily reported.
Photo: CNA
Tsai encouraged Taiwanese to communicate in their mother tongues and identify with their roots.
Promoting mother languages is not only a global trend, but a great way to understand Taiwan’s various cultures, which can unite Taiwanese and make them feel proud, the article cited the president as saying.
Tsai also talked about her experience in learning Hakka, praising it as an elegant language that has deep connections with Taiwan.
She said that she tries to speak it whenever she attends Hakka events.
“Mother languages are the most beautiful sounds of the era,” Lai wrote in a Facebook post.
He also wrote of the importance of passing down and promoting languages, as it helps people to respect and connect with each other, as well as appreciate the beauty of Taiwan and its culture.
“It has long been the government’s goal to make the world see Taiwan through mother languages,” Lai added.
The Development of National Languages Act (國家語言發展法), which requires elementary, junior-high and high-school students to learn mother languages, and other policies are intended to “show respect for the culture, beauty and stories of every language,” Lai wrote.
Lai urged people to learn multiple languages and start “speaking our tongues” to make Taiwan an eclectic place.
You also celebrated the occasion on Facebook, writing that Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) faces “genuine risks” and would disappear if no action is taken to save it.
While he was a member of the now-defunct Taiwan Provincial Consultative Council, You said he asked the government about mother language education six times during question-and-answer sessions, and after being elected as Yilan County commissioner, he initiated mother language education.
Then-minister of education Mao Kao-wen (毛高文) said that mother languages should be learned at home, and the Yilan County Council cut the budget for the education program, You said.
Fortunately, the government included mother languages in education programs nationwide a few years later, he added.
You said that the Legislative Yuan is testing simultaneous interpretation and other language services.
In addition, romanization and Chinese characters are included in the Legislative Yuan Gazette for legislators who speak indigenous languages, You said.
The legislature also co-organized a Hoklo poetry reading competition and established a Hoklo poetry reading club in an effort to preserve the language, You added.
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