Taiwan: Language Policy is important

Harold F. Schiffman haroldfs at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
Fri Jun 1 13:47:00 UTC 2007

Published on Taipei Times

Letters: Language policy is important

Thursday, May 31, 2007, Page 8

With the Cabinet's approval of a national languages development draft law,
language policy in Taiwan made a breakthrough in the law's twin goals of
"localization and internationalization," and the first has already been
achieved. Internationalization is the next step. Taiwan is an island with
multiple languages and cultures. After the Japanese era, Taiwanese, Hakka
and Aboriginal languages were suppressed by the powerful Chinese
authorities, and some nearly died out completely. The draft law can help
revive them. It's not related to independence; it's just sensible language
policy. With greater economic development, internationalization has become
the focus.

Many people study English because it is a global language. Chinese is now
gaining ground. The Taiwanese government should adjust its language
strategy with practical measures. English is a second language in Hong
Kong and Singapore, but people in both cities can still speak Chinese
well. They are good examples for Taiwan. The draft law is a great start to
the "localization" goal. But localization and internationalization are
both important. And the policy makers should seek correct language policy
instead of votes.

Henry Wu



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