A heated argument recently erupted between National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) assistant professor Taiffalo Chiung (蔣為文) and writer Huang Chun-ming (黃春明) over whether it was appropriate to write in Hoklo (otherwise known as Taiwanese).
Huang, who does not agree with writing in Hoklo, on Tuesday gave a lecture on the subject entitled “Discussion on the Writing and Teaching of the Hoklo Language” at the National Museum of Taiwan Literature.
Chiung felt the title of Huang’s lecture was provocative, saying Huang is not an expert on the Hoklo language, so he took a large sign to the lecture written both in Chinese and Romanized Hoklo that read “Shame on Taiwanese writers who don’t write in Taiwanese but use [Mandarin] Chinese.”
Chiung raised the sign in protest during Huang’s lecture.
Huang was so emotionally stirred that he jumped off the stage and challenged Chiung by asking what right he had to disrupt his lecture.
Museum personnel tried to calm Chiung and Huang down out of concern that the nearly 80-year-old Huang may not be able to take the excitement.
Reached for comment on Wednesday, Chiung said Huang should understand the current situation of the Hoklo language and the ideals motivating those that promote it before making any criticism.
Chiung cited the example of late writer Yeh Shih-tao (葉石濤), saying that even Yeh in his later years had expressed regret that he had only been able to write in Chinese and Japanese, and that he was unable to write in his native tongue.
Huang, meanwhile, responded through his assistant, saying reporting on his shouting match with Chiung was meaningless as the main point of the lecture was a discussion on writing in Hoklo.
Translated by Jake Chung, staff writer