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Cabinet approves draft bill to preserve indigenous languages

2016/12/08 17:12:56

Taipei, Dec. 8 (CNA) Taiwan's Cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft act that was put forward by the Council of Indigenous Peoples (CIP) to preserve and revive endangered languages of the country's aboriginal peoples.

According to the draft bill, a four-pronged revitalization policy will be implemented in a bid preserve indigenous languages in Taiwan, giving priority to five languages listed by UNESCO as critically endangered.

The four main areas are conservation, inheritance and education, usage, and research of the indigenous languages, said Icyang Parod (夷將拔路兒), head of the Cabinet-level CIP.

The bill now has to be submitted to the Legislature and if it is passed it will allow the local governments in 55 aboriginal townships, cities and districts around Taiwan to publish documents in indigenous languages, not just the country's official language of Mandarin, Icyang said.

For example, official documents would be published in both Mandarin and Yami in the offshore township of Lanyu, also known as Orchid Island, which is home to the Tao people, he said.

The bill also has the potential to bring other benefits, such as higher income for people who teach indigenous languages, as they will have an opportunity to gain full-time employment with full benefits, Icyang said.

Currently, such teachers are employed part time and are paid on an hourly basis, he said.

The Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger, published by UNESCO, lists five aboriginal languages in Taiwan as "critically endangered" and another nine as "vulnerable."

(By Tai Ya-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)
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