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French priest honored for compiling Amis dictionary

2015/12/08 17:06:22

Father Maurice Poinsot. Photo courtesy of Wang Chu-lan.

Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) A Catholic priest from France who spent more than 40 years compiling an Amis-French dictionary has been selected as a winner of an award for outstanding contribution in promoting native languages, the Ministry of Education announced Tuesday.

Father Maurice Poinsot, 83, began doing missionary work in Yuli in the eastern county of Hualien when he was 27 years old. He worked hard to learn different local languages, including Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, and the language of the indigenous Amis tribe, to assimilate into local society.

To help other priests learn the Amis language, Poinsot and now-deceased father Louis Pourrias began to compile an Amis-French dictionary, getting into Amis tribal villages to collect vocabularies from elders.

The dictionary, which mainly records the Amis dialect in central Hualien and along Taiwan's east coast, remains an important reference book for studying the Amis language.

Poinsot was one of eight individuals and two organizations that were selected as winners of the 2016 outstanding contribution awards in promoting native languages.

Besides Poinsot, Huang Meei-jin (黃美金), a professor at the Department of Applied Foreign Languages of Shih Chien University, was also recognized for her efforts in preserving indigenous languages.

(By Chen Chih-chung and Y.F. Low)
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