Feb. 21 may feel like just an ordinary day to you, but from the viewpoint of promoting awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism, it is a special day: International Mother Language Day, launched by the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
In order to join the international celebrations of the day, the National Museum of Taiwan Literature — located in Tainan, the cradle of Taiwan’s cultural development — set up the five-year “Permanent Exhibition of Taiwan’s Literature in Mother Languages” in 2010 — which will run through April, 2015. In response to today’s universal use of the Internet, the museum’s researchers have digitized the exhibition, and beginning on International Mother Language Day last Thursday, the museum has accommodated people’s busy schedules by offering the option of viewing the exhibition from the comfort of their homes with just a click-of-the-mouse.
The exhibition is divided into three themes: Aboriginal, Hakka and Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese) literature. After entering the museum’s official Web site at www.nmtl.gov.tw, click on “online exhibition” under the “exhibition” dropdown list. There, a seahorse nicknamed “A-hai,” the little host of the virtual exhibition, will take visitors on a trip through the digital world of mother language literatures. The museum reminds readers to turn on their loudspeakers while taking the online exhibition tour, a feast for the eyes and ears that allows visitors to experience the tenderness and brilliance of Taiwan’s mother language literatures.
“Multilingualism is a source of strength and opportunity for humanity. It embodies our cultural diversity and encourages the exchange of views, the renewal of ideas and the broadening of our capacity to imagine,” according to UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova. The late Taiwanese writer Yeh Shih-tao once said that, “It is appropriate to write literature in one’s mother language; in other words, an ethnic group should create in its own mother language.”
The online exhibition allows visitors to appreciate the abundance and insights of Taiwan’s diverse literary landscape, including the Aboriginal, Hakka, and Hoklo literatures. There is also a hope that it will make people understand the ethos and value of mother language literatures in Taiwan’s literary context.
(Lin Ya-ti, Taipei Times)