Many languages are spoken in Taiwan (including Taiwanese, Hakka and Formosan languages). However most, if not all, the Formosan languages are facing extinction following the drastic linguistic policies carried out during the Japanese occupation (1895–1945) and the first fifty years of the Nationalist government (1949–1989). Among the sixteen officially recognised Indigenous languages, four can be characterised as vulnerable and twelve are currently severely or critically endangered (UNESCO, 2003).
While currently there is a decrease in competent speakers, a loss of language proficiency, the erosion of parts of the linguistic systems, and the overriding dominance of Mandarin Chinese, revitalisation awareness started three decades ago when the importance of Taiwan’s Indigenous languages started to be recognised. This was prompted by different social movements, including the ten-year “Indigenous Peoples’ Name Rectification movement” (1984–1994), which pushed the government to design linguistic policies and implement different linguistic programmes to slow down the rate of language obsolescence.
The purpose of this topical section of The International Journal of Taiwan Studies (IJTS) is to reflect on Taiwan’s Indigenous languages policies, with possible comparisons with other linguistic communities (for example, in Hawaii or in New Zealand). It will include a paper that will discuss the linguistic policies regarding the Formosan languages over the past hundred years, while focusing specifically on the recent past. This paper will provide a review of the institutions (Council of Indigenous Peoples, Ministry of Education) and the people (natives and linguists) involved, the current challenges, and the prospects for future development. It will review the different programmes in which linguists may have been involved over the past twenty years (e.g., editing of dictionaries, writing of sketch grammars and linguistic textbooks, supervision of annual and/or bi-annual language exams etc.) and reflect on their limitations. It will also analyse the possible reasons for the continuous loss of the Indigenous languages.
We hope that through this call for papers we will draw other submissions that will focus on Indigenous language education (including textbook development, e-learning, teachers’ training, Indigenous language teaching, learning at home and in Indigenous villages), the standardisation of Indigenous language testing, linguistic assessment of language vitality in general or in a particular community, reflections on the National Languages Development Law, alternative (and/or comparative) views on language revitalisation and any other topics related to linguistic policies.
To signal your intent to write an article in this topical section please email an abstract of no more than 2 pages of A4, including paper title, author(s)’s name(s) and references, by 31 July 2022 to the guest editor, Professor Elizabeth Zeitoun of Academia Sinica at email@example.com. Please send along a short biography describing each author(s)’s titles, institutional affiliations, and research interests.
By 31 July 2022: Submission of abstract
By 31 August 2022: Decision by guest editor on invitations for manuscript submission
By 30 April 2023: Submit full papers to Professor Elizabeth Zeitoun for the guest editor’s feedback
By 31 August 2023: Submit full papers to the IJTS via the journal’s portal for a double-blind peer review process