The native languages used by different ethnic groups in Taiwan have been a key element in the construct of Taiwan culture and an important driving factor in national development. However, this vital linguistic diversity now faces a crisis stemming from a longstanding, unequal distribution of resources.
To preserve endangered traditional languages, the Ministry of Culture aims to cultivate language equality through a multilingual environment by enacting The Development Act of National Languages (國家語言發展法).
The main points of the Act are:
1. Defining the legislative purpose of the Act;
2. Defining the terms used in the Act;
3. Prohibiting discrimination against or restricted usage of national languages;
4. Appointing the competent authorities and enforcement agencies regarding the development of national languages;
5. Planning and promoting the development of national languages with respect to tolerance and deference to linguistic diversity;
6. Outlining the government’s responsibilities in regards to language development, including preservation, education and research, rehabilitation, and the establishment of a linguistic database for all national languages facing a crisis of inheritance;
7. Defending the media’s right to use all national languages and rewarding those who produce and broadcast radio and television shows, publish materials, and stage performances in these languages;
8. Outlining the government’s responsibilities in providing educational opportunities for learning national languages, motivating academic institutions and pre-school educational facilities to offer related courses, creating a safe and friendly environment for learning, and encouraging higher-level institutes to establish related departments or research bodies on national languages that face a crisis in inheritance;
9. Meeting civic demand for services and public resources provided in all national languages and providing the necessary means for government agencies to effectively communicate in these languages;
10. Registering the implementation date of the Act.
The draft Development Act of National Languages, which will be submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review in June 2017, is available in Chinese at the Legislative Yuan’s website. For more updates, please follow the official Facebook page.