Family education is the most significant factor in promoting and preserving mother languages in Taiwan, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday on International Mother Language Day.
“It is regrettable that some parents have not tried to teach their children how to speak their mother language,” Su said at a press conference organized by the Taiwan Mother Tongue Alliance to promote native languages, including Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), Hakka and other Aboriginal languages.
The alliance launched an annual event two years ago in which consumers who speak native languages at select businesses receive a discount. More than 100 clinics, restaurants and stores across the country are supporting the campaign this year.
People cannot abandon their mother tongue, which is the root of any culture, Su said. The respect of mother languages is the respect for the cultures of all ethnic groups.
The government’s policy on mother language and culture is crucial in preserving native languages as well, Su said, citing the example of the Japanization movement initiated by the government during the Japanese colonial period and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government’s banning of native languages after it fled to Taiwan in 1949.
“Mother languages will not be preserved unless the nation’s leader has the right attitude toward linguistic heritage and true respect for cultural diversity,” Su said.
Chinese was the only language used on public address systems for a long time until the Taiwan Provincial Assembly demanded the government add Hoklo and Hakka to the service when Su served as a provincial councilor in the 1980s, he said.
The event, which runs from yesterday to Monday, aims to encourage people to speak native languages and pass on diverse cultures, as well as to promote equal status for all languages in Taiwan, alliance chairman Li Khin-huann (李勤岸) said.