Sunday, May 13, 2007

A need to prioritize

Facing relentless pressure from Beijing, many Taiwanese pundits have made the claim that Taiwan is making a mistake by teaching Chinese Mandarin, as the language could serve as some kind of Trojan Horse for Beijing. Instead, they claim, Taiwanese should teach themselves and expatriates indigenous languages like Hoklo as a first line of defense.

In an article titled "Language is never a first line of defense" published on May 12 in the Taipei Times, I draw a parallel between this strategy and the belief in Quebec that only independence can protect the French language. Furthermore, I argue that in both cases the proponents of a language-driven strategy are looking at the wrong aspects of the problem and wasting energy that had better been used elsewhere. Ultimately, their error stems from the belief that language and culture are coterminous.

Readers can access the full article by clicking here.

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