Low rate of registration of aborigines’ ‘original names’ prompts gov’t to ease process

As of January 2007, only 6,613 of Taiwan’s 470,000 Aborigines had officially registered to use their original names (i.e., those in the languages of their tribes, rather than the Sinicized forms that were forced upon Taiwan’s aboriginal population until relatively recently). This low rate, combined with the realization that the procedure was inconvenient for those who had moved away from their home towns, prompted the government to simplify the registration procedure by allowing people to register their names at any household registration office, not just the one for their officially listed household. This has been effect since April 1.

Names may be registered in a variety of forms: with Chinese characters, romanization, or a combination of both.

Yuánzhùmín shēnqǐng huífù chuántǒng míngzi de shǒuxù, jírì qǐ kěyǐ gèng fāngbiàn, cóng jīnnián 4 yuè 1 rì qǐ, bùzài yìngxìng guīdìng zhǐnéng huídào hùjí de bànlǐ gēngmíng shǒuxù, chūwài qiúxué jiùyè de yuánzhùmín zài rènhé yī ge hùzhèng shìwùsuǒ dōu kěyǐ bànlǐ gēngmíng.

Gēnjù Yuánmínhuì [Yuánzhùmín Zú Wěiyuánhuì] de tǒngjì: zhì 96 [i.e., 2007] nián 1 yuè zhǐ, yǐjing huífù chuántǒng míngzi de yuánzhùmín jǐnyǒu 6,613 rén, yǔ yuánzhùmín zǒngrénkǒu shù 47 wàn duō rén xiāngjiào, bùdào bǎi fēnzhī yīdiǎn wǔ, bǐlì fēicháng dī. Hěn yǒu kěnéng shì wèile jiùyè, jiùxué huò qítā yuányīn, líxiāngbèijǐng dào dūhuìqū dǎ pīn de yuánzhùmín yùláiyù duō, ér jiù guīdìng shēnqǐng huífù chuántǒng míngzi, yīdìng yào huídào hùjí suǒzàidì de hùzhèng shìwùsuǒ bànlǐ, ràng bùshǎo yuánzhùmín dǎ tuìtánggǔ. Xīn guīdìng xiūzhèng hòu, yuánzhùmín shēnqǐng gēngmíng zài gèng de dōu kěyǐ bànlǐ.

Gēnjù xiūzhèng xìngmíng tiáolì guīdìng, mùqián yuánzhùmín de chuántǒng míngzi yě kěyǐ yǒu sān zhǒng dēngjì fāngshì:

  1. chuántǒng míngzi yǐ Hànzì dēngjì, lìrú Xíngzhèngyuàn Yuánmínhuì zhǔrèn wěiyuán de míngzi: 瓦歷斯‧貝林 [Wǎlìsī Bèilín]
  2. chuántǒng míngzi yǐ Hànzì dēngjì, bìngliè chuántǒng míngzi zhī Luómǎ pīnyīn, lìrú Xíngzhèngyuàn Yuánmínhuì zhèngwù fùzhǔrèn wěiyuán de míngzi: 夷將‧拔路兒 Icyang Parod [Webmaster’s note: 夷將‧拔路兒 = Yíjiāng Bálùr in Hanyu Pinyin]
  3. Hànrén xìngmíng bìngliè chuántǒng míngzi zhī Luómǎ pīnyīn, lìrú Xíngzhèngyuàn Yuánmínhuì chángwù fùzhǔrèn wěiyuán de míngzi: 鄭天財 [Zhèng Tiāncái] Sra Kacaw

source: Yuánzhùmín shēnqǐng huífù chuántǒng míngzi jírì qǐ gè dì kěyǐ shēnbàn (原住民申請回復傳統名字即日起各地可申辦), Chinatimes, April 5, 2007

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 (Sānmín Xiāng, 三民鄉), after Sun Yat-sen’s Sānmínzhǔyì (三民主義 / 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 (Guómíndǎng), 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 瑪雅鄉 (Mǎyǎ Xiāng / Maya Township). The characters 瑪雅 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 (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.


Taiwan officially recognizes the Sakizaya as a tribe

Taiwan’s Executive Yuan will ratify the Sakizaya (撒奇萊雅 / Sāqíláiyǎ) 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 (凱達格蘭大道 Kǎidágélán Dàdào), the street leading to the Presidential Office.

The city councilor, Yang Shi-qiu (楊實秋, Yang Shih-chiu), called for a change to Lǐ-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 Lǐ Yìlián. Those who know Chinese may get the point if it is written in characters: 禮義廉 or, in simplified characters, 礼义廉. 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 恥 (chǐ “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 無恥 or 无耻 (wúchǐ “lacking a sense of shame”). In short, calling someone Mr. Lǐ 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 [恥, 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 Lǐ-yì-lián Dàdào or Wúchǐ Dàdào (both of which could be translated as “Shameless Boulevard” — the first figuratively, the second literally) but said that the name Lǐ-yì-lián-chǐ 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 (介壽, Jièshòu Lù, i.e., “Long Live Chiang Kai-shek Road”).
  • Chinese characters aren’t a good fit for “Ketagalan,” which comes out 凱達格蘭 (Kǎidágélán).

Here’s a Mandarin-language story on this:

Miànduì dào Chén Shuǐ-biǎn huódòng bùduàn, Táiběi Shìyìyuán Yáng Shí-qiū jīntiān biǎoshì, tā yǐ zhǎnkāi lián shǔ, tí’àn bǎ Ketagalan Dàdào gēngmíng wéi Lǐ-yì-lián Dàdào; Táiběi shìzhǎng Mǎ Yīngjiǔ suī rènwéi yǒu chuàngyì, dànshì yǒu màrén “wúchǐ” zhī xián, tā bù zànchéng.

Táiběi Shìyìhuì xiàwǔ jǔxíng shìzhèng zǒng zhìxún shí, Yáng Shí-qiū zhìxún biǎoshì, Chén Shuǐ-biǎn zǒngtǒng zài Táiběi shìzhǎng rènnèi zài wèijīng mínyì zhēngxún xià, jiù bǎ jièshòu lù gǎimíng wéi Ketagalan Dàdào, rìqián yòu làngfèi Xīn Táibì shàng yì yuán, bǎ Zhōngzhèng Guójì Jīchǎng gēngmíng wéi Táiwān Táoyuán Jīchǎng. Yáng Shí-qiū yě lián shǔ tí’àn, yāoqiú shì-fǔ jiāng Ketagalan Dàdào gēngmíng wéi “Lǐ-yì-lián Dàdào”.

Mǎ Yīngjiǔ huídá shuō, dàolù yǐ zhèngmiàn mìngmíng wèi yuánzé, ér bù shì fùmiàn mìngmíng, yìyuán de yòngyì yǒu chuàngyì, dànshì kèyì shěnglüè jiùshì màrén “wúchǐ” zhī xián. Yáng Shí-qiū huíyìng shuō, ruò shì-fǔ yǒu yílǜ, Ketagalan Dàdào kě gǎiwéi “Lǐ-yì-lián-chǐ Dàdào”.

Mǎ Yīngjiǔ huíyìng shuō, tā bù zànchéng Ketagalan Dàdào gǎiwéi “Lǐ-yì-lián Dàdào”, zhèyàng huì biànchéng “Wúchǐ Dàdào”, dànshì ruòshì “Lǐ-yì-lián-chǐ Dàdào”, zhè kěyǐ tǎolùn.

Yìyuán Jiǎng Nǎi-xīn suíhòu qiángdiào, Yáng Shí-qiū de tí’àn jiùshì tíxǐng wéizhèng zhě bùkě wúchǐ, ruò Mǎ Yīngjiǔ dānxīn bèi rén zhǐwéi yǒu màrén wúchǐ de yìsi, tā jiànyì gǎiwéi “Bùkě Wúchǐ Dàdào”. Mǎ Yīngjiǔ xiào shuō, zhèige jiànyì gèng yǒu chuàngyì, dànshì xū jīngguò shì-fǔ nèibù tǎolùn.