Aborigine legislators should use original names: activist

Aborigine politicians should use their original names, not Han Chinese names, or explain to their constituents why they don’t, the head of an aboriginal group called the Vine Cultural Association stated on Tuesday.

All eight of Taiwan’s legislators holding the seats reserved for Aborigines — Chen Ying, Liao Kuo-tung, Lin Cheng-er, Yang Jen-fu, Kao Chin Su-mei, Kung Wen-chi, Lin Chung-te, Tseng Hua-te — currently officially use “Chinese” names rather than Aborigine ones.

The head of Taiwan’s Council of Indigenous Peoples, however, does use his original name: Walis Pelin.

I’m waiting for someone to get on TV and talk about how few legislators who are Hoklo use Taiwanese rather than Mandarin forms for the romanizations of their names. (I could probably count them all on one hand, even though Taiwan has some 225 legislators.) Same thing for legislators who are Hakka but who don’t use the Hakka forms of their names in romanization.

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4 thoughts on “Aborigine legislators should use original names: activist

  1. Then there are those who mix languages and romanisations – like the DPP’s Taiwanese-American legislator Hsiao Bi-Khim (???; Xi?o M?iqín). In Mandarin using Wade-Giles she would be Hsiao Mei-Ch’in (or Hsiao Mei-Chin if we go for good old chàbudu? Taiwan W-G). In Taiwanese using POJ her name would be written Siau Bí-khîm. So cobbling the two together provides the name she uses in practice.

  2. Maoman: Good point. Of course, she didn’t even acknowledge that she was an Aborigine for years. Maybe there are other things she hasn’t told us about her background.

  3. Curious, isn’t it? The idea that one need not spell out one’s name in Mandarin and only Mandarin is simply something few people ever entertain. One barrier is that Mandarin has penetrated just about every social strata and, more importantly, has been accepted as an ideologically “neutral” platform, one that transcends the boundaries of ethnicity and class. Related to this is the discourse of “chauvinism” (a code word intended for Hoklo speakers). Add the general lack of education in romanization of any kind, and one could see why people would default to badly spelled Mandarin without being conscious that it is Mandarin and badly spelled. Politicans like Bi-Khim can get away with it, probably because most people have yet to realize she actually spells out her name differently (following the dying Presbyterian tradition). It might even be slightly hip for a pol of her age to have such an “eccentric” spelling. Should that ever become slightly fashionable among politicians (but why would it?), I’d expect a quick backlash, not only from Bluish media but shallow DPP pols frightened of being labeled chauvinists and whose supporters can’t care less either way.

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