President Tsai Ing-wen said Feb. 20 that the government is committed to revitalizing indigenous languages while fostering an environment conducive to learning and speaking tribal tongues.
Indigenous languages are an indispensable part of Taiwan and a key source of the country’s cultural vitality, Tsai said. Great strides have been made in creating an environment for the natural use of mother tongues since enactment of the National Languages Development Act in 2019 and the Indigenous Languages Development Act in 2017, she added.
Tsai made the remarks during the Indigenous Languages Revitalization Awards Ceremony and Development Conference. The events were staged on the eve of U.N. International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated Feb. 21 as part of the world body’s efforts to promote cultural and linguistic diversity, as well as multilingualism.
According to Tsai, central government funding for the protection and promotion of indigenous languages has increased fivefold in the past few years. Other complementary support measures include establishing tribal community-run organizations for encouraging related studies; initiating master-apprentice language learning programs; recruiting more full-time teachers and educational personnel for preschools and schools; creating additional positions for indigenous language-speaking staffers in local government and implementing fiscally responsible incentives tailored for tribal members, she said.
Tsai said she believes Taiwan’s indigenous language policies will have even greater effect going forward. The government is to continue partnering with stakeholders around the country to make tribal tongues a part of everyday life, and reinvigorate an important part of Taiwan’s cultural heritage.
Indigenous peoples have lived in Taiwan for millenniums. The latest statistics from the Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples reveal that the population of Taiwan’s tribal members stands at around 575,067, or 2.4 percent of the total 23.55 million. (YCH-E)
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