Thu, Dec 16, 2004 - Page 2 News List

Hakka council seeks to preserve dying dialects


The Council for Hakka Affairs is sponsoring the establishment of three language teaching centers around Taiwan in an effort to save the endangered dialects of the Hakka language.

Three of the five major Hakka dialects, namely the Rao-ping, Dah-pu and the Shao-an, are on the verge of dying out in Taiwan as few people speak them. Most of the Hakka in this country, numbering about 3 million, speak one of the two other major dialects, namely the Si-hsien or Hai-lu dialects.

Former council chairwoman Yeh Chu-lan (葉菊蘭) once said that the endangered Hakka dialects, particularly the Shao-an dialect, are like the endemic land-locked salmon, which face extinction if action is not taken.

The first of the three proposed Hakka dialect teaching centers was formally inaugurated at Tunghsing Elementary School in Lunpei Township, Yunlin County, yesterday in a ceremony presided over by council Vice Chairman Chuang Ching-hua (莊錦華).

Chuang said the tasks of the center will include teaching the Shao-an dialect, compiling a Shao-an dictionary, and setting up a cyber data bank and a teaching corner on Hakka language and culture in general, and the Shao-an dialect in particular.

The two other Hakka language teaching centers are expected to be inaugurated later this month in Hsinchu City and Taichung County, Chuang said.

Also speaking at the ceremony, Tunghsing Elementary School principal Chen Hsin-huang (陳鑫湟) said that the Shao-an dialect contains many words and pronunciations that are similar to languages that originated in central China, including the Hoklo dialect on which Taiwanese is based.

He said this proves that the Hakka people and the Taiwanese people have common ancestors who came from central China near the Yellow River.

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