The diverse range of languages used by the people of Taiwan are an important factor in shaping our nation’s subjectivity and culture. Long-term insufficient distribution of resources coupled with a one-language policy, however, have brought some of these languages to the brink of extinction. To reverse this trend, the Ministry of Culture has held public hearings on the draft Development Act of National Languages (國家語言發展法) to pursue the twin goals of realizing equal cultural rights and resurrecting lingual diversity.
It is the government’s responsibility to assist each and every group of its people with their native language inheritance (or restoration). Equal opportunities and protection will be encoded in law through the Development Act of National Languages, which shall expand the definition of “national language” to encompass all languages used by groups intrinsic to Taiwan, including Taiwanese sign language, for visual communication is equally valued as spoken exchanges.
Once enacted, the Development Act of National Languages shall implement policy measures giving priority and legal protection to the restoration and development of languages that face a crisis of inheritance. All national languages shall be incorporated with Taiwan’s education curriculum, teacher training, writing/input systems, as well as public resources and services.
The Ministry of Culture has also set aside a special budget for promoting national languages through mass media, including the proposed establishment of a Taiwanese-language broadcasting channel. Such measures will be included in the upcoming revision of the Public Television Act.
The final hearing – the eighth of a series of hearings that began in March – took place in Taipei on July 23, in which participants voiced and signaled their opinions using native languages like Hakka and Taiwanese sign language.
The draft Development Act of National Languages will be revised to incorporate the feedback solicited from the eight hearings and submitted to the Legislative Yuan for review. The goal is to create a sustainable environment conducive to the development and revitalization of all national languages, and usher forth a new chapter in Taiwan that is grounded in respect and appreciation for heritage and diversity.
Read the draft Act here: 公告「國家語言發展法」草案
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