Friday, February 10, 2017

A map of Taiwan's living languages

Taiwan News, one of the country's three English-language newspapers, recently published a short article and map showing the dominant languages in various parts of Taiwan. By land area, the Formosan languages spoken by Taiwan's Austronesian indigenous minority are the most prevalent, but much of this area is barely-populated highlands. In the central west and southwest - and also most of Yilan County in the northeast - Taiwanese (which linguists consider a variety of Hokkien, a language widely used in China's Fujian province) is the leading language. Taiwanese is also known as Holo, Minnanhua, Minnanyu or Southern Min. Within this region there are efforts to revive Siraya, spoken by indigenous people in the Tainan area during the brief Dutch occupation in the 17th century, and used for the writing of land contracts well into the 19th century.

In the northwest, Mandarin is the most common language, while there are substantial pockets of Hakka speakers in the northern counties of Hsinchu and Miaoli, and in the southern interior, around places like Meinong

The map is an oversimplification in that Mandarin is generally the preferred language of younger people, whether they live in Tainan or an aboriginal village, as it remains the language which dominates the education system and the media. Few people under the age of 30 are as articulate in Taiwanese as they are in Mandarin, and several Formosan languages are on the verge of extinction.   

No comments:

Post a Comment