Emphasizing the importance of maintaining the nation’s cultural and linguistic diversity, Taiwan Statebuilding Party (TSP) officials yesterday said that the government’s plan to turn Taiwan into a fully bilingual Mandarin and English nation must not be made at the expense of other bentu (本土, “local”) languages.
To achieve the aims of the government’s “2030 Bilingual Nation Plan,” the government must give equal weight to promoting foreign and local languages to counter Chinese imperialism, TSP executive Chang Po-yang (張博洋) told a news conference in Taipei.
“The government has launched the 2030 Bilingual National Plan, but Taiwan must not discard its cultural diversity and multilingual heritage, or our own languages might get obliterated in favor of Mandarin and English only,” he said.
“For Taiwanese to assert their own separate and distinct identity from Chinese, and transform into an independent and sovereign nation, we have to link up with the world, but must also get to know our own people and roots better,” he added. “Taiwan already has an excellent DNA and immunity system, which is a whole set of bentu languages, including Taiwanese [also known as Hoklo], Hakka and Formosan languages, the mother tongues of Austronesian-related Aboriginal peoples.”
Mandarin became the dominant language in Taiwan because of the policies imposed by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) dictatorship during four decades of martial law, as the regime tried to eradicate all of Taiwan’s local languages, TSP officials said.
As Mandarin is the dominant language in government and society, people can become highly susceptible to China’s “united front” propaganda through TikTok and other Chinese media platforms, as well as Chinese videos and television shows, that work to erode Taiwan’s multiculture, they said.
It is thus vital that young people learn and speak bentu languages to preserve their mother tongues, and to resist China, they said.
TSP Tainan branch executive Liu Heng-wei (劉恆溦) called for establishing user-friendly bentu language learning environments for children, saying that the main obstacles today are a lack of learning facilities and teaching materials, and discrimination in society against people speaking Taiwanese, Hakka or an Aboriginal language.
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