Amendments to the Constitution would be necessary if the government were to designate Mandarin or any other language spoken locally as an official language, the Executive Yuan said yesterday.
"Since the Constitution doesn't specify any particular language as the nation's official language, a constitutional amendment would be necessary to make Mandarin or English or any other languages as the nation's official language despite the fact that Mandarin is the most commonly spoken language here," Cabinet Spokesman Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) told reporters yesterday.
Until then, the Cabinet's language policy remains unchanged, Lin said.
"In other words, we recognize that Mandarin is the nation's most commonly used language, but also that the nation doesn't have any particular official language mandated by the Constitution or any existing law," Lin said.
Lin made the remarks yesterday afternoon in response to the controversy over the government's language policy.
The Council for Cultural Affairs, which has taken over the drafting of the language law from the Mandarin Promotion Council under the Ministry of Education since March, approved on Monday the draft bill of the national languages development law (
Accenting that all of the nation's ethnic languages should be treated equally, Lin said that the government will make efforts to safeguard and preserve all languages, especially those in immediate danger.
"We have no intention to make only Mandarin the nation's official language nor do we plan to make all of the nation's 15 different ethnic languages official languages," Lin said.
The 15 national languages are Mandarin, Hokkien, Hakka and 12 different indigenous tongues.
As the process of language development is gradual, Lin said, the government will not use any political power to manipulate the process but will instead respect its natural development.
"Languages and culture are two very important assets of a nation," Lin said. "Their individual existence shouldn't be treated as a zero-sum game nor should they compete with each other for existence."