Two Aboriginal languages — Atayal and Sediq — have been added to the languages in which information is available on Wikipedia, the Ministry of Education said on Thursday.
The languages, which Wikipedia lists as Tayal and Sediq Taroko, were recognized by the online encyclopedia and granted their own language option on March 16, the ministry said.
There were 2,400 Wikipedia entries in Atayal and 1,037 in Sediq, the ministry said.
The two became the second and third languages of Taiwan-based Aborigines on Wikipedia, following the Sakizaya language, which was added in November 2019, it said.
Before recognizing a language and allowing it its own section, the Wikimedia Foundation assesses how many active users have contributed to entries in the language over a period.
Amis might also receive its own Wikipedia option soon, the foundation said.
The ministry, in collaboration with National Chengchi University (NCCU), launched a Wikipedia project six years ago with the goal of promoting writing in Aboriginal languages and encouraging the languages’ use among young people, Deputy Minister of Education Lin Teng-chiao (林騰蛟) said.
However, while spoken Aboriginal languages in Taiwan have been used and passed on, their writing systems are far more recent, mainly based on the Latin alphabet.
They were not officially recognized until 2005.
A 2016 report commissioned by the Council of Indigenous Peoples evaluated native language proficiency among Aborigines through tests given to more than 20,000 people in 16 languages.
The report showed that only 27.6 percent of Sediq were able to read the newly developed script, while less than 12 percent knew how to write it.
Only 20.6 percent of Atayal were capable of reading the script, while less than 5 percent could write it, the report said.
When it comes to preserving languages, speaking and writing are both important, Lin said, adding that through the project, young Aborigines obtain knowledge in their mother tongue under the guidance of their elders.
NCCU professor Lim Siu-theh (林修澈), who presides over the project, said that in addition to documenting the written language, the group also “reinvents” words so they can be used in a modern context.
Hitay-Payan, a leader of the editing team for Atayal entries on Wikipedia, said that there were challenges creating entries in his native tongue.
The team began by translating introductory texts on well-known people, he said.
Lituk Teymu, who leads the Sediq editing team, said that she was pleased to see the language of her ancestors being given a global stage.
The team would continue to promote the Sediq language, she said.
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