[EDLING:111] Taiwan: Language is never a first line of defense

Francis M. Hult fmhult at DOLPHIN.UPENN.EDU
Sun May 13 13:32:17 UTC 2007

Taipei Times

Language is never a first line of defense

As frictions in the Taiwan Strait continue without apparent sign of a 
resolution, some Taiwanese have reached the conclusion that language is another 
tool the nation should use for its defense. 

Many commentators have claimed that teaching Mandarin in Taiwan only plays into 
Beijing's hands and brings Taiwan ever closer to unification. Instead, those 
pundits contend, Taiwan should redouble its efforts to teach Taiwanese and 
expatriates not Mandarin, but Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) or other 
local languages.

The problem with this vision is that it is predicated on the false, albeit not 
uncommon, belief that language is the same thing as culture.

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