Soochow University professor Lin Mao-sung (林茂松) unwittingly exemplifies the confusion over the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) new slogan, Taiwan NEXT (“‘Taiwan NEXT’ raises eyebrows,” Aug. 24, page 3).
Every slogan needs to be instantly understandable; a few choice words to sum up the brand, the product or — as in this case — the political position.
Lin cites the British Council’s 2006 book English Next as a precedent, claiming that the title is to be understood in terms of global English usage as a linguistic “future trend” driven by globalization.
Simply reading the title of the book does not make that clear at all, but it is not meant to be a slogan, and personally I would not say it was a good book title, either.
However, the subtitle — “why global English may mean the end of English as a Foreign Language” — clarifies the otherwise cryptic title and the author’s main contention: It is the end of the traditional paradigm of seeing English-learning as foreign-language learning in the manner of other languages, brought about by the status of English as a global language.
This is not merely a -linguistic “trend,” but a distinctive change from one state of affairs to another, bringing with it new challenges that, among other things, the book contends, will increase the need for language skills other than English, especially for monolingual native English speakers.
Book titles are not slogans. And as for the DPP, it remains unclear, to me at least, what “Taiwan NEXT” could mean — a critical failure of any slogan.
Stand tall and be brave
I write this letter in very strong support of Yang Liu Hsiu-hwa (楊劉秀華), chairman of the International Cultural Foundation (“Taiwanese now need to walk tall,” Aug. 24, page 8).
Yang states: “We [Taiwanese] should be brave and stand up and shout loudly, so the whole world can hear the voice of Taiwanese. Hooray and come on, professor Chiang. Let us Taiwanese work together.”
Only in unity is there strength, as the Bible says in Matthew 12:25: “Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them: ‘Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand.’”
As long as Taiwanese stand tall, united and proud, no one will be able to ride on their backs. A person can ride on my back only if my back is bent!
People of Taiwan, your only hope is to stand side by side with Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson and presidential candidate Tsai Ying-wen (蔡英文). She is Taiwan’s only hope of ever becoming a “normal country.”
In many inspirational ways, Tsai is the spiritual heir to former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝). They are cut from the same cloth in that they share the same integrity, courage and moral vision, and above all a deep, abiding love for Taiwan.
However, I fear Taiwan will be more or less left on its own.
Taiwan should not view Western democracy as some sort of deus ex machina or Grand Messiah that will come to the miraculous aid of the nation with legions of angels blaring their trumpets.
Quite a few years ago, the Russian dissident Alexander Solzhenitsyn remarked on the spiritual rot that infects the West: “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage, both as a whole and separately, in each country, in each government, in each political party, and, of course, in the United Nations. Such a decline in courage is particularly noticeable among the ruling and intellectual elites, causing an impression of a loss of courage by the entire society.”