With a record number of people — Hakka and non-Hakka alike — taking and passing the beginner’s level Hakka proficiency test, Council for Hakka Affairs Minister Huang Yu-chen (黃玉振) yesterday said the results showed that the Hakka language is gradually being revived.
“This is the sixth time the council has held beginner’s level Hakka proficiency tests and we’ve got some very exciting numbers this time that I’d like to share with you,” Huang told a press conference in Taipei.
“First of all, a total of 15,646 people signed up for the test, which is 135 percent higher than last year’s 6,662, and the highest number of test takers ever,” he said. “Among the 8,564 people who passed the test, 4,801 are in elementary school or high school. The large number at such a young age shows that the Hakka language is gradually being revived.”
In the past, many linguists and Hakka activists worried about the future of the Hakka language, since, according to some estimates, as many as 60 percent of Hakkas under the age of 30 are not fluent in the language.
Besides an increased number of youngs students, Huang also said that many people who are not Hakka, including some foreign residents, took the test.
Chiu Kun-yu (邱坤玉), one of the administrators of the test, said more than 1,300 Hoklo speakers took the test and 41 percent passed.
“In addition, nine foreign residents took the test, with five of them passing,” Chiu said.
He said that since the council had introduced a NT$1,000 cash award for each person under the age of 18 who passes the test, many more students were signing up.
“Since many students are learning to speak Hakka to take the test, their teachers are also taking time to learn the language and sign up for the test. As their children are learning the language, many non-Hakka parents have also signed up,” Chiu said. “So this year, we have had a lot of teachers and families signing up together to take the test.”
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