Taiwan is an island of languages. Its indigenous peoples, especially, speak a wealth of languages, members of the larger Austronesian family spoken from Madagascar to Easter Island. But while some Austronesian languages like Malay and Tagalog are among the most widely spoken in the world, their Taiwanese relatives face a difficult future.
The erosion caused by government policy and economic forces over the years has weakened the links that maintain indigenous language communities, and it is only relatively recently that work to repair the damage has begun. But there has been progress, and it’s not too late to make Taiwan’s first languages thrive again. The National Taitung Living Art Center is celebrating achievements in the revival of these languages through a new exhibit opened in December. Here to tell us about the success stories highlighted in the exhibit is the museum’s Tsai Nien-ju.