A retired teacher in Pingtung County has published teaching material for the Rukai Aboriginal language, hoping to save her community’s language, which is spoken by only about 500 people.
Tu Fu-chu (杜富菊), a former elementary-school teacher based in Wutai Township’s (霧台) Dawu Community (大武部落), said the book is aimed at preschoolers, regular students and adult beginners.
Seeing the language spoken by ever fewer people as many community elders pass away, Tu on Saturday said that she hoped to preserve the language by turning her decade-long research on the language into teaching material.
Photo: Luo Hsin-chen, Taipei Times
The book contains instructions on vocabulary, pronunciation, sentence formulation and culture combined with an interesting presentation to appeal to beginners, she said.
Compiling the book was a race against time, she said, thanking community elders for sharing valuable knowledge and her husband, Liang Ming-hui (梁明輝), mayor of the county’s Majia Township (瑪家), for his support.
“It will not be my last publication. I will keep going,” she said, hoping to do as much as she can for the community in her lifetime.
The Rukai language can be divided into six vernacular branches that are spoken by people in the Dawu Community; elsewhere in Wutai Township; Kaohsiung’s Maolin District (茂林); the district’s Wanshan (萬山) and Duona (多納) boroughs; and a branch known as eastern Rukai spoken by people in Taitung County’s Taromak (達魯瑪克) and Danan (大南) communities.
As there are only about 500 people who speak the Dawu vernacular, most schools that teach Rukai opt for the Wutai vernacular.
Without the book, the Dawu vernacular might disappear in two or three decades, Liang said.
Wutai Township Mayor Tu Cheng-chi (杜正吉) thanked Tu Fu-chu for laying the foundation to pass on the cultural legacy of their community.
The book is a rich compilation of language and cultural knowledge, Aboriginal Language Research and Development Foundation executive director Lowking Nowbucyang said.
Tu Fu-chu also expressed the hope that her book would encourage more community members to create similar language teaching materials.
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