What is reportedly Taiwan’s first dictionary of language of the Truku (Tàilǔgé 太魯閣) tribe was released yesterday. The Truku are also known as the Sediq. They live mainly in Xiulin, Hualian County, site of the Taroko Gorge, one of Taiwan’s most scenic areas, which takes its name from the tribe (or perhaps vice versa).
The work is based in part on a lexicon compiled in the 1950s, when a pastor at a local church began to translate the Bible into Truku. Six pastors at a local church have been working on the dictionary since 1999.
Words in Truku are created by adding prefix, postfix and midfix to root words. A root word can develop into as many as 40 words, Jiru [Haruq, one of the authors of the dictionary,] explained.
Midfix is added into the middle of a root word by separating the root word.
Taking an example from the dictionary, hakawis a root word meaning “bridge” in Truku, hmhakaw becomes “bridge-building”, mhakaw is a bridge builder, shakaw is the reason to build a bridge and hkagan is the location where the bridge is built.
“Verb tenses and different parts of speech are also constructed by adding prefixes, postfixes or midfixes to a rood word,” Iyuq [Ciyang, another of the authors of the dictionary,] said.
Until recently, the Truku were seen as being part of the Atayal tribe.
- Tàilǔgé zú — fābiǎo zú yǔ zìdiǎn jí tuīzhǎn bùluò chǎnyè (太魯閣族 發表族語字典及推展部落產業), CNA, April 11, 2007
- Truku dictionary meant to help preserve culture, Taipei Times, April 12, 2007
- Taroko, Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 15th ed., 2005