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There has been severe loss of aboriginal (indigenous) languages in the process of Taiwan’s social transition. According to an UNESCO report, there are five indigenous languages listed as critically endangered, nine as vulnerable and 16 at the brink of extinction. Aiming to preserve endangered aboriginal languages, the Executive Yuan passed the draft of the “Aboriginal Language Development Act” to tackle the situation through language renaissance policies.

CNA reports, currently the indigenous languages of the Sakizaya, Kebalan (Kavalan), Thao, Hla’alua, and Kanakanavu are listed as critically endangered; the three dialects of the SaiSiyat and Drekay (Rukai) hold the status severely endangered; while the Pinuyumayan, Bunun, Pangcah (Amis), Cou (Tsou), Drekay (Rukai), Tao (Yami), Payuan (Paiwan), Tayal (Atayal) and Truku (Taroko) are listed under the category, “vulnerable.” The Council of Indigenous People states that aboriginal languages are vital to the Taiwanese culture, but numerous have disappeared in the tides of sociocultural change.

Apple Daily reports, according to the draft of the “Aboriginal Language Development Act,” the authorities ought to call for meetings for the inspection or consultation of aboriginal language development policies, formulate graphic symbols and preserve the indigenous corpus. Moreover, the government should hold language investigations periodically to determine its usage and proficiency, and prioritize sponsorships and support for endangered languages.

The draft also includes regulating public transportation, stations and other similar locations to make announcements in the language of aboriginal areas. In addition, government establishments, public enterprises along with public facilities ought to put up signs written in indigenous languages in these areas as well.

Liberty Times reports, education authorities are obliged to provide incentive for academic research of indigenous languages, and encourage higher educational units along with the 12-Year Public Education Program to establish faculties or offer courses teaching aboriginal languages. Moreover, the central government should conduct certifying examinations for aboriginal languages, cultivate teachers in the field, collect data and provide the necessary teaching material. Last but not least, the authorities should arrange financial aid for the publications, preservation and development of indigenous languages.

UDN reports, the draft also regulates the government to accept indigenous people using their mother tongue upon correlating affairs with a translator present in certain governmental occasions. Moreover, the Council of Indigenous People should reference the “Native Americans Languages Act” of the US and request local authorities to offer indigenous language classes for interested citizens to take and trigger the revival of indigenous languages.

Translated by Wade Cheng
Edited by Olivia Yang