The Hakka language is at risk of extinction in Hsinchu County if the county government fails to halt its decline, Hakka language conservation groups said on Friday.
Hsieh Szu-lung (謝賜龍) of the Hsinchu Association of Hakka Interpreters and Chuang Wan-kuei (莊萬貴) of the Hsinchu Hailu Hakka Language Association were among the advocates who presented a petition to Hsinchu County Commissioner Yang Wen-ke (楊文科).
Although the county is home to one of the largest Hakka populations in the nation, fluency in the language is disappearing quickly and could be completely gone in one or two decades, the groups said.
Over the past 17 years, the county has promoted Mandarin over Hakka, a policy that the government implemented to promote ethnic harmony, but which has disrupted Hakka learning and use, they added.
Every county and city with a significant Hakka population has established a Hakka affairs agency, except for Hsinchu, they said.
The county government should establish an affairs bureau, or advocates would not rule out staging protests, the groups said.
In response, Yang said that the county’s Bureau of Civil Affairs plans to build up its International Hakka Affairs Division to also handle issues concerning Hakka language and culture.
The county’s organizational structure would be adjusted to accommodate the group, he said.
In a later news release, the county government said that Yang pledged to make Hakka language courses available to county employees, prioritizing those in supervisory positions.
The county government would give prominence to the Hakka language at Hakka community events and use it as the official language in future deliberations, it added.
Kindergartens and elementary schools would provide Hakka-language instruction, and hold recitations and speech contests, while the county’s Bureau of Education has instructed to join with advocate groups in organizing events featuring Hakka-language poetry, speaking and singing for the general public, it said.
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