Taiwan president backs restoration of aborigine place name

In 1957, Maya, a small town in Taiwan’s Gaoxiong (Kaohsiung) County, was assigned a new name: Sanmin Township (S?nmín Xi?ng, ???), after Sun Yat-sen’s S?nmínzh?yì (???? / Three Principles of the People). Although the residents of Maya — then, as now, predominantly members of the Bunun tribe — were likely not in favor of this change, Taiwan was then under an authoritarian regime with an assimilationist policy, so there’s little to nothing they could have done.

During KMT rule, when the change to Sanmin was made, a major point of government policy was stressing the Chineseness of Taiwan — even if, such as in this case, the links had to be manufactured. The Kuomintang (Guómínd?ng), after all, was and still officially is the Chinese Nationalist Party, as the Taipei Times likes to remind its readers.

Fortunately, Taiwan no longer has the same political situation as 50 years ago. Some activists are now trying to get the name of the town changed back to Maya. President Chen Shui-bian recently expressed his support for this, which is not surprising considering that the current administration prefers to stress Taiwan’s historical links with just about anyplace but China. In recent years Taiwan’s ties with Austronesia have been receiving increasing attention.

I’m still trying to find out if “Maya” represents the proper spelling or if it’s merely a romanization of a Mandarinized form of the Bunun name. In Chinese characters this place is written ??? (M?y? Xi?ng / Maya Township). The characters ?? are also used for the Maya people of southern Mexico and northern Central America.


further reading: Pinyin News on aborigine names

Truku dictionary released

What is reportedly Taiwan’s first dictionary of language of the Truku (Tàil?gé ???) 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.


Taiwan officially recognizes the Sakizaya as a tribe

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan will ratify the Sakizaya (???? / S?qíláiy?) as an indigenous tribe on January 17, raising the number of officially recognized tribes here to thirteen.

During Japan’s rule over Taiwan (1895-1945), Japanese ethnologists classified the Sakizaya as members of the Ami. Later scholars, however, have distinguished the two groups as a separate because of linguistic differences and the Sakizaya’s sense of their own identity.

Representatives of the Sakizaya applied in 2004 with the Council of Indigenous Peoples for official recognition.

The Sakizaya live mainly in Hualian City and Hualian County’s townships of Shoufeng, Ruisui, and Fengbin.

I hope to find more information about the tribe’s language, as well as the origins of the tribe’s name.


Taiwan aboriginal students can gain extra school-entrance points through language exam

To help ward off the extinction of the languages of Taiwan’s tribes, the Council of Indigenous Peoples is establishing examinations in these languages. Those young people who pass will be given a 10 percent increase on their exam scores toward entry into high schools and universities. This would be on top of the 25 percent increase aboriginal students already receive automatically.

The first of the examinations will be held in March. Each test will have two parts: listening and speaking.

The council hopes this will encourage young people to retain the languages of their ancestors.

Students can prepare for the tests by studying books issued by the Ministry of Education. Although the ministry’s books have nine levels, tests will be based on only the first three levels.


registration of aborigine names fails to reach target

Taiwan’s Cabinet-level Council of Indigenous Peoples (formerly the Council of Aboriginal Affairs) has been encouraging members of Taiwan’s tribes to officially register themselves under their “original names,” which are recorded in romanization. But the total of such registrations reached only about half of this year’s goal of 10,000, with the majority of those having been registered in earlier years.


Tao (Yami) language materials

Providence University of Taizhong County, Taiwan, has put online a site about the language of the Tao (Yami) people of Taiwan’s Orchid Island (Lanyu). It contains complete the text of a 690-page book on the language. It offers readings in Tao (romanized) with not only interlinear English and Chinese characters but also audio files.

The sample sentences range from the mundane to the unexpected, such as Ji na ni’oya o nitomolok sia ori, ta isáray na jia. (“He wasn’t angry at the person who poked his buttocks, but instead he thanked him.”)

This site, which has interfaces in both English and Mandarin, is a terrific resource. Check it out.

source: Women compile dictionary and grammar text for Yami language, Taipei Times, October 23, 2006

a shameless proposal

A Taipei city councilor with the KMT on Tuesday launched an attack on President Chen Shui-bian disguised as a signage proposal. His idea: Change the name of Ketagalan Boulevard (?????? K?idágélán Dàdào), the street leading to the Presidential Office.

The city councilor, Yang Shi-qiu (???, Yang Shih-chiu), called for a change to L?-yì-lián Dàdào, which is literally Propriety, Righteousness, [and] Honesty Boulevard. While that might sound nice, it’s actually a disguised insult.

John DeFrancis was all over this word play a long time ago in “The Singlish Affair,” the biting satire that leads off his essential book The Chinese Language: Fact and Fantasy. DeFrancis explains assigning the name Li Yilian to a person in his story:

The most complex is the name L? Yìlián. Those who know Chinese may get the point if it is written in characters: ??? or, in simplified characters, ???. The three characters mean respectively “propriety, morality, modesty” and form part of a four-character phrase listing a number of Confucian virtues of which the fourth is ? (ch? “a sense of shame”). The omission of the fourth character is part of a Chinese word game in which the reader is supposed to guess the last item when it is omitted — much as if we had to tell what is lacking in the list of the three Christian virtues of “Faith, Hope, and ______.” The omission of the fourth character is expressed as ?? or ?? (wúch? “lacking a sense of shame”). In short, calling someone Mr. L? Yìlián seems to praise him as Mr. Propriety, Morality, and Modesty but actually insults him as Mr. Shameless.

By renaming the street “people will know that the person who works at the Presidential Office at the end of the boulevard has no sense of chi [?, shame],” Yang said.

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou, who also serves as chairman of the KMT, didn’t care for the idea of his city having a L?-yì-lián Dàdào or Wúch? Dàdào (both of which could be translated as “Shameless Boulevard” — the first figuratively, the second literally) but said that the name L?-yì-lián-ch? Dàdào (“Propriety, Righteousness, Honesty, and a Sense of Shame Boulevard”) could be discussed.

The name of Ketagalan Boulevard is especially interesting from a number of standpoints.

  • Since the street is named after a tribe that lived long ago in what is now Taipei, Ketagalan Boulevard is one of the only road names in all of the capital of Taiwan that has much of anything to do specifically with Taiwan, as opposed to China. (Jilong/Keelung Road is the only other one that springs to mind at the moment.)
  • It is one of the only Taipei street names that isn’t bisyllabic.
  • The street itself is not really independent as much as an extention of Ren’ai Road. (Don’t forget that apostrophe.)
  • The name has been changed before. As Mark Caltonhill notes in What’s in changing a name?, “the vast majority of the island’s streets and even many towns were simply renamed by the KMT regime”. But in this case I’m referring to a relatively recent renaming. In 1996, Chen Shui-bian, who was then mayor of Taipei, oversaw the renaming of the street from Jieshou Road (??, Jièshòu Lù, i.e., “Long Live Chiang Kai-shek Road”).
  • Chinese characters aren’t a good fit for “Ketagalan,” which comes out ???? (K?idágélán).

Here’s a Mandarin-language story on this:

Miànduì dào Chén Shu?-bi?n huódòng bùduàn, Táib?i Shìyìyuán Yáng Shí-qi? j?nti?n bi?oshì, t? y? zh?nk?i lián sh?, tí’àn b? Ketagalan Dàdào g?ngmíng wéi L?-yì-lián Dàdào; Táib?i shìzh?ng M? Y?ngji? su? rènwéi y?u chuàngyì, dànshì y?u màrén “wúch?” zh? xián, t? bù zànchéng.

Táib?i Shìyìhuì xiàw? j?xíng shìzhèng z?ng zhìxún shí, Yáng Shí-qi? zhìxún bi?oshì, Chén Shu?-bi?n z?ngt?ng zài Táib?i shìzh?ng rènnèi zài wèij?ng mínyì zh?ngxún xià, jiù b? jièshòu lù g?imíng wéi Ketagalan Dàdào, rìqián yòu làngfèi X?n Táibì shàng yì yuán, b? Zh?ngzhèng Guójì J?ch?ng g?ngmíng wéi Táiw?n Táoyuán J?ch?ng. Yáng Shí-qi? y? lián sh? tí’àn, y?oqiú shì-f? ji?ng Ketagalan Dàdào g?ngmíng wéi “L?-yì-lián Dàdào”.

M? Y?ngji? huídá shu?, dàolù y? zhèngmiàn mìngmíng wèi yuánzé, ér bù shì fùmiàn mìngmíng, yìyuán de yòngyì y?u chuàngyì, dànshì kèyì sh?nglüè jiùshì màrén “wúch?” zh? xián. Yáng Shí-qi? huíyìng shu?, ruò shì-f? y?u yíl?, Ketagalan Dàdào k? g?iwéi “L?-yì-lián-ch? Dàdào”.

M? Y?ngji? huíyìng shu?, t? bù zànchéng Ketagalan Dàdào g?iwéi “L?-yì-lián Dàdào”, zhèyàng huì biànchéng “Wúch? Dàdào”, dànshì ruòshì “L?-yì-lián-ch? Dàdào”, zhè k?y? t?olùn.

Yìyuán Ji?ng N?i-x?n suíhòu qiángdiào, Yáng Shí-qi? de tí’àn jiùshì tíx?ng wéizhèng zh? bùk? wúch?, ruò M? Y?ngji? d?nx?n bèi rén zh?wéi y?u màrén wúch? de yìsi, t? jiànyì g?iwéi “Bùk? Wúch? Dàdào”. M? Y?ngji? xiào shu?, zhèige jiànyì gèng y?u chuàngyì, dànshì x? j?ngguò shì-f? nèibù t?olùn.


official advocates Aborigines reclaim original names

The head of the Gaoxiong County Government’s Indigenous Peoples Bureau announced on Monday that henceforth he would like to be known by his original name, Alang Manglavan, rather than the Sinitic name Du Shi-luan (???), and that he had completed the forms for official recognition of this.

As of the end of last year, Gaoxiong County had some 15,700 members of indigenous tribes. Only about 5 percent of these, however, had applied for an official change of name, Manglavan reported. He encouraged others to apply for the change.

Here’s one story:

G?oxióng Xiànzhèngf? Yuánzhùmín Júzh?ng Dù Shí-luán, y?j?ng* sh?nq?ng zhèngmíng wéi “Alang Manglavan” (??????), j?nti?n g?lì xiàn nèi yuánzhùmín k? y?f? huífù chuánt?ng xìngmíng, y? xi?nxiàn yuánzhùmín chuánt?ng yuánmào.

Dù Shí-luán bi?oshì, wèi xi?ngyìng tu?dòng huífù yuánzhùmín chuánt?ng míngzi cuòsh?, t? j? wánchéng zhèngmíng, shì c?ixíng chuánt?ng míngzi Hànzì zhùjì hé bìngliè Luóm? p?ny?n.

“Alang” shì míngzi, “Manglavan” shì xìng, shì “duànyá” de yìsi, Dù Shí-luán ji?shì shu?, y?nwèi z?xi?n zhù zài duànyá pángbi?n, su?y? y?c? wéi xìng. X?wàng dàji? y?hòu yào jiào t? “?làng”, bùzài xìng “Dù” le.

Dù Shí-luán g?lì yuánzhùmín b?wò j?huì, du? g?lì ji?rén, péngyou qiánw?ng hùzhèng shìwùsu? bànl? huífù chuánt?ng xìngmíng zhù jì.

* The original version in characters has a mistake: ? instead of ?[?]. A Wubi-based typo?