Thursday, December 29, 2011

Jerome Keating's complementary books, educating foreigners and locals on Taiwan

A Taiwan Tetralogy

Most works on Taiwan try to fit the many aspects of its diverse past under one roof, too often ending up belittling one, championing another and cheating a third in that effort. Even if they claim or pledge neutrality and a pervasive ambition to cover all, to a close reader their rhetoric eventually betrays them. This tetralogy presents four crucial perspectives needed in approaching and understanding Taiwan; it may raise more questions than it answers but in its effort, it points directly to areas that cannot be ignored. It comes not only from reading and research but from having lived for over two decades in Taiwan and simply yet constantly and critically watching and integrating how too often actions and results speak louder than words. This includes a look at those who hold wealth, position and power in Taiwan, how they got it, and why the playing field of Taiwan’s democracy is still not level.

Book I

Island in the Stream: a Quick Case Study of Taiwan’s Complex History

Island in the Stream (co-authored by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D. with April C. J. Lin Ph.D.) is a compact, concise history of Taiwan from 1500 to the present. Using Chinese, Japanese and western sources it gives a balanced presentation and is designed to be read and completed on a plane coming to Taiwan enabling any reader to be up to speed on Taiwan upon landing. Of course it can also be read by anyone on the ground. An added feature of this work is the list of provocative questions at the end of each chapter. These questions raise issues (often overlooked in other interpretations) that the reader will need to examine and answer if he/she wishes to grasp the complexity of Taiwan’s formative past. The first edition was published in 2000; subsequent editions were published in 2001, 2005, and 2008 making it one of the most current and up to date histories. The fourth edition (2008) is in its 2nd printing; a fifth edition is planned for 2012 after the results of the Presidential and Legislative Yuan elections.

Book II

Taiwan: the Struggles of a Democracy

This book examines the past, present and future of Taiwan’s long struggle for democracy. It uses the African proverb, “Until lions have historians, the tales of the hunt will always glorify the hunter,” as its guiding theme. Most past accounts or histories of Taiwan’s struggle for democracy have been told from the standpoint of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) which because of its long-standing martial law, White Terror, and one-party state rule fits the role of the hunter in the proverb. The voice of the Taiwanese (the lions) and their perspective and role in the struggle has long been ignored or overlooked. While post WWII Japan and Germany achieved democracy in less than a decade, Taiwan ironically took some four decades to reach such; the KMT hindered rather than helped the cause of democracy in Taiwan. (Publication 2006)

Book III

Taiwan: the Search for Identity

This is the most current and pressing issue that Taiwan faces and needs to resolve in order to determine its place and direction in the world. Despite the achievement of its full citizenry being able to democratically elect its Legislative Yuan (1992) and President (1996), Taiwan has still to work out its identity. Taiwan is made up of many waves of colonials and diaspora that interacted with its indigenous people. The indigenous people themselves were never united but only tribal in their outlook on life. Nonetheless, because of intermarriage and interaction with those that came to Taiwan, the various indigenous tribes have had their own influence that is an integral part of Taiwan’s identity. Too often this has been ignored, neglected and/or misunderstood. Further, the most recent diaspora to come, colonize and exploit Taiwan have been the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that lost China. Unfortunately some of them still hanker for a mythic return to the continent and/or are reluctant to accept the true dimensions of the role that democracy must play in Taiwan. This along with the contributions and role of the indigenous people and other colonizers remains the issue yet to be resolved in Taiwan achieving full identity. (Publication 2008)

Book IV

The Mapping of Taiwan: Desired Economies, Competing Monopolies -- New Perspectives on Cartography, Competing Monopolies, and the Destiny of Taiwan.

The Mapping of Taiwan steps back and places Taiwan within the shaping framework of world events and global economies. It is a Gestalt of Taiwan's history and of life, but from the crasser standpoint of trade, commodities, greed and monopolies. Such are all part and parcel of desired economies that often in turn lead to coveted geographies that must be mapped. This book (80 to 85 all color pages of maps and photographs that along with 50 pages of text/context) traces the historical mapping of Taiwan by numerous nations from the 1500s to the present. Included are developments in cartography, the various mapmaking houses and the artistry of maps.

At a different level the book examines how the West came to Asia for the Spice Islands and how Taiwan was later drawn out of its isolation into a vortex of the desired economies and competing monopolies of various nations. Some nations eventually coveted it and colonized it. Taiwan had for a long time been mapped by outsiders, however it can now direct its own economy and map itself.
In a larger framework and larger vortex (a Gestalt of Life?) deconstructing the maps reveals hidden agendas and unsaid messages of people and nations following a variety of competing personal and national paradigms of religion, individualism, greed, power, patriotism, ideologies etc. etc. This book keeps its focus on the mapping of Taiwan, but it also points to these much wider dimensions of life. Maps convey information, yet what seems to be an event is really a construct of a specific quasi symbolic system conveying information. Visuals have their own message, but encoded in them also are multiple other messages to be deconstructed. Cartographers in turn have their own multiple motivations and constraints in making maps. A coffee table size book published in 2011.

- Jerome Keating, Ph.D.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Taiwan is an Exceedingly Beautiful Nation

Even in the crowded urban concrete, you see glimpses of it if you remember to look up and out at the mountains and ocean in the distance.

Teh Iōng Tâi-gí Hàn-jī

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Feeling good about Taiwan

Other than the curious English, it is great.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

non-Mandarin classroom

Tayal singer I Pay Buyci 伊拜維吉 uses a music video to model using the Tayal language in the elementary school classroom

Monday, October 3, 2011

Three BBC feature stories on Taiwanese people:

* Taiwan Austronesian Tsou Tea Farmer
* Entrepreneur building own brand instead of typical copy-cat activities of many businesses
* Hoklo Taiwanese -- democracy activist and civil engineering professor

Refreshingly, an Austronesian Taiwanese uses her real name in the Mandarin-speaking education system

Aboriginal student Malai-yitzu Temalalate shows her ID card with her transliterated Chinese name, which uses nine Chinese characters and a symbol to separate the names, on Sept. 10.
Photo: Lee Li-fa, Taipei Times

Article in Taipei Times:

Paiwan girl makes more friends with long Chinese name
名字超長 排灣姑娘人緣超好

Malai-yitzu Temalalate is a 20-year-old Paiwan woman. Her transliterated name in Chinese includes nine Chinese characters and a dot separating the two parts of her name. It had to be edited in a special way so that all the characters could fit in the space for names on the ID card. She said that because her name is so special, teachers often pay more attention to her during roll call. Many of her classmates want to get to know her because of her extremely long name, allowing her to make many new friends.

Temalalate studies at Tzu Chi College of Technology in Hualien. She is an only child, and both of her parents are also members of the Paiwan ethnolinguistic group. Her ancestors were chieftains, so she has always received a lot of attention since she was very little. Her father gave her the beautiful Paiwan name of Malai-yitzu, which refers to the beauty of a woman that even the blooming flowers and full moon cannot match. Temalalate identifies her as a member of a specific tribe.

She said she used to go by her Han Chinese name, Lee Nien-tzu, when she was a little girl, and that her elementary school classmates still call her by that name. She started using this significantly longer transliterated name when she started junior high school. At first she was not used to being called by the name at all, and it always takes a long time to write her entire name when she has to fill out forms or take exams. Since her classmates do not know what to call her, and in order to make things simpler when introducing herself, she tells them to call her Malai, which is a shorter version of her given name.

Malai said there are about a dozen classmates in her school with an Aboriginal background, but she is the only one who uses an ancestral tribal name. She says that because of the name teachers always enjoy calling her name during roll call. Although she feels the name is an inconvenience when she gets a chop engraved or fills out applications, she is happy that companies tend to hire her because they think her name is very attractive.



Saturday, August 27, 2011

Significant Increase in Americans self-identified as Taiwanese

In the most recent U.S. census there was a notable increase in the number of people who identify themselves as Taiwanese. Read the Taipei Times article: here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An Urge to Write Hoklo Taiwanese Found Among Taiwan's Youth

Hoklo Taiwanese is having an impact in the younger generation.

Take a look at this fascinating article in the Taipei Times: Hoklo expands to new arenas — the Web and resumes

How will it all turn out? A root problem is that Hoklo has been treated by the educational establishment as a "dialect." If the Hoklo language had its own places for usage and the students learn to write it as a distinct language, then the youth would be less likely to feel like they need to mix it into Mandarin. Look to multilingual societies like Switzerland to see how that would work out.

They would have times when they used Mandarin to write in certain contexts and Hoklo Taiwanese in other contexts.

Hopefully, the powers that be will not conflate the slang found in the resumes with the legitimate writing of Hoklo Taiwanese.

Hoklo expands to new arenas — the Web and resumes

By Chen Yi-ching and Tseng Hung-ju / Staff Reporters

Sun, Jul 24, 2011

While “cyber-speak” might puzzle those who do not frequent online forums and chatrooms, the unique lingo has become even more of a riddle lately as Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese) is gradually incorporated into popular usage.

For example, the term “older sister” would be written as “阿寄” (a-tsi), the term “eating rice” becomes “呷奔” (tsiah-png), “matter” becomes “代誌” (tai-tsi) and “interesting” becomes “促咪” (tshu-bi).

This year, more colloquial Hoklo terms have entered the lexicon of the nation’s netizens, including terms such as “安爪” (an-tsuann, meaning “what’s up” in Hoklo), “休跨” (sio-kua, meaning “a little” in Hoklo) and “啊嗯勾” (a-en-kou, meaning “but” in Hoklo).

However, the incorporation of Hoklo into cyber-speak is not a new phenomenon as in previous years other terms made their way into cyber-speak, such as “凍蒜” (tong-suan, meaning “get elected” in Hoklo) and “莊孝維” (tsong-hsiao-ui, meaning “playing dumb” in Hoklo).

According to writer and Internet celebrity Lucifer Chu (朱學恒), the unique culture of Taiwan’s cyber-speak also reflects the “gang effect,” referring to the trend that groups of friends constantly develop their own unique vocabulary and culture that is understood only be those who are in the same circle.

Chu said riddle-like terminology that requires a bit of guesswork and thought is more likely to become popular than lingo that is mundane.

Chu said the increasing incorporation of Hoklo into cyber-speak is fun for Taiwanese netizens and it helps increase their cultural recognition.

However, despite the creativity and fun of cyber-speak, Yes123, an online job bank, found that young job seekers may be too accustomed to Internet lingo as some of the terms are beginning to appear on resumes posted on the site.

Yes123 said some the resumes submitted by young job hunters were riddled with strangely written words that baffled their human resource directors.

For example, some resumes mixed Hoklo and Chinese, used emoticons or incorporated the zhuyin fuhao (bo po mo fo system), a phonetic system used in Taiwan, to substitute a Chinese character, such as using “ㄉ” for “的.”

Writing their resumes in a linear fashion without punctuation marks or misusing punctuation marks, such as using exclamation marks or tildes in place of periods, was also part of the informal style used by a number of young job hunters, the job bank added.

Yes123 Public Relations director Lin Ming-hui (林明慧) said that although creative resumes might get a potential employer’s attention, “it is not always a good idea and may be seen as an inability to express oneself articulately.”

Wang An-lun (王安倫), assistant vice president of ATEN International Co’s Human Resources Department, said there are many young people writing their resumes in lighthearted and witty ways, adding that about 10 percent of resumes submitted to ATEN used either the phonetic system, emoticons, Internet slang or Chinese-Hoklo terms such as ho-ka-tsai, (好家在, meaning “fortunately” in Hoklo).

“If it was an application for [the position of] sales [person], it may be interpreted as being creative, but it would not be appropriate for law or engineering-related jobs and would prompt a human resources director to worry about the potential negative effect to the company’s professional image and corporate culture,” Wang said.
Lion Travel vice president Chen Cheng-ta (陳正達) said out of 100 resumes submitted to the firm, 5 to 10 percent were found to contain inappropriate language.

“A resume is the first impression a company has of an applicant, and overt lightheartedness or wit has a detrimental effect because it gives off the impression of overt casualness. This makes hiring directors worry that the applicant may lack discipline which could have a negative impact in the future,” Chen said.


Published on Taipei Times :
Copyright © 1999-2011 The Taipei Times. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Taking action with a video camera.

Calling everyone with a video camera and a friend fluent in Taiwanese, Hakka, or one of the Austronesian languages in Taiwan.

Please make a video of the person speaking the language-- preferably reading something written, singing a song, etc. Ask the person to write down what was said. Post it on Youtube. And we can post it here.

Here is an example:

I found this video posted by blogger David on "浮雲過太虛"
You can find the words on

By individuals taking the time to video others speaking these languages, the person being filmed will realize the value of the language and perhaps start investigating more on how to read and write it. The increase of videos in these languages online and on Youtube will encourage others to learn the language and also the young folks to learn, preserve, and use the mother tongue of their grandparents' generation.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Alarming loss of language among Taiwan's younger generation.

On the Writing Taiwan's Languages blog, "Mr. Biko Lang" raised a concern about the loss of Taiwanese in the younger generation even in south Taiwan. Remember, this is Taiwanese, the strongest of the non-Mandarin languages. If this one is being gradually lost, all of the other languages -- Hakka, and the Austronesian languages are disappearing even faster.

Following is an excerpt of the comment and a response from Aì Tâi-oân.


Excerpts from blogger Dan's comments:

I am worried. I live in South Taiwan. ... But most of the daily speakers are people over the age of 40, and more like around age 50. Below this age, the popularity of speaking Taiwanese drops off precipitously.

The kids at elementary school, i sometimes visit the Taiwanese one hour a week classes with my friend Teacher Hung, the kids for the most part speak Chinese 24/7.......maybe just 10 percent of the kids age 5 - 15 can speak Taiwanese now although more can HEAR IT when their parents or grandparents speak it. However, from my viewpoint on the ground as a non-PHD, i see a dyying language, like Yiddish was for the Jews of Europe who immigrated to America in the 1920s....their grandkids cannot speak Yiddish anymore and almost nobody writes or reads Yiddish in the USA anymore or Europe. It is a dead language.

I worry this will happen to Taiwanese too..... only academics and PHDS will continue to write in hoklo and read it.....BUT Hoklo will live on as a popular langauge on TV shows and in daily life, but it will lost ALOT with each generation and by the year 2100, i worry that Taiwanese will also be a dead language. with just a few choice words used in daily like like BUSASA and AMAH and AKONG and ABEI and AUTOBAI and ASAN and JABA BUREAI and JABA and maybe just 100 words. I just worry. I hope i am wrong.

posted by Mr Biko Lang and thanks, LO LAT

Aì Tâi-oân said...
Here are some practical suggestions that can all play a part:

Begin studying and using the language: suggestion: Maryknoll Language Institute

Start posting updates on facebook, or other social media that have Taiwanese:

Other suggestions:


Friday, July 1, 2011

Mandarin infecting even cultures high in the mountains

Notice that though the Tayal language is used, the children are still being taught in Mandarin.

Children should be primarily taught in their mother tongue and secondarily taught in a foreign language used for commerce such as Mandarin.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Freddy Lim on Hoklo Taiwanese Language


Freddy. 2011/05/27







Sunday, May 29, 2011


台灣時報 2011/5/29

頭家心聲 : 族群母語vs外來國語  鄭兒玉

 族群母語 vs 外來國語   ◆鄭兒玉




 受國民黨完整的中文教育之學者、作家,自然慣勢用中國話思考書寫,就對母語誤覺無文化價值,沒認同其存在的必要。台灣若有人認同蔣介石所強迫的語言做唯一之「國語」, 參與中國人建設大中華文化,這是個人自由。總是伊(in)無理由參與加害者,幫助中國國民黨政權圖消滅台灣大小族群的象徵-母語。這不只是人權問題,寧可是違反人道。

 聯合國文教組織: 因語言為人類創出無價的各樣文化資產出來,聯合國文教組0織(UNESCO)不但要保存所有語言,由二○○○年起特設「世界母語日」(World Mother Tongue Day)來支持弱勢族群母語創作文化貢獻。這暗示天下無人能講,何種語言沒能力發展文化出來。總是弱勢母語若不由自己族人,特別是經其知識人士來維護,其發展只有靠文教組織是不可能的。


SRC: Taiwan Times

Friday, March 18, 2011

Bunun Indigenous Writing System

David on Formosa has a good blog post on his visit to the Bunun community of Kalibuan (Wangxiang, 望鄉部落). In it he mentions that the Bunun had developed their own writing system. You can see an example of this writing system by clicking on the link to a good PDF document on the Bunun. However it seems that the Bunun did not write down their entire language but rather devised a notation system to mark their lunar calendar.

(Does anyone have pictures of original documents or artifacts or stone carvings with this calendar? We'd like to get a copy rather than only have the above reproduced versions.)

Development of indigenous writing systems can be very important for national identity. The Koreans developed Hangul. The Vietnamese specifically chose to use a Latin script instead of Chinese characters in order to keep a distinction between Vietnam and China. China has coveted this land to the south but lost a war with the Vietnamese and so China was not able to annex Vietnam.

The Manchu peoples had their own writing system, traces of which can be found in carved inscriptions of west Taiwan from the time of Manchu empire outposts on Taiwan. However, as the Manchu people began shifting to Chinese characters, they lost a key cultural distinction and have not been separate from China since then.

Many factors contribute to a distinct identity. Language is one. Written script can be another. For Taiwan to free itself from the vise grip of its covetous neighbor and her tentacles already extended into Taiwan society, we must employ every means possible.

Elevating all the languages of Taiwan to a level of national respect, using them in schools, and adopting a romanized or indigenous scripts in the place of Chinese characters can all help to remove traces of the neo-colonialist/imperialist impositions of Chiang Kai-shek and his followers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A new Paiwan musical theater:

米靈岸全球首演 Miling'an's World Premiere

Introductory Video米靈岸預告

Get your tickets online here.

Here is some information from the artistic director:

Ticketing Contact票務聯絡人:Kay余筱蓉小姐 電話(02)2910-2305 傳真(02)2916-0049 信箱 0930-047-609

親愛的朋友,我是米靈岸音樂劇場的藝術總監 胡健。









Dear Friends:

This is Allia Hu, the producer and artistic director of Miling’an Musical Theater( ).

Miling’an is a Grand National Musical Theatre work supported by the National and Culture Art Foundation ( ) of Taiwan. The world premiere will be done on April 15~17, 2011 at Huashan Creative Park in Tapei.

Milingan is a brilliant work combining the very ceremonial energy from a living ancient civilization call PAIWAN and the various non-proscenium creative ideas. We are especially seeking for exciting natural environment like forest, ruins…etc, where we can have very strong and close interaction with both the participants (audience) and the domestic civilization.

The above are some links to the website and preview of the production :

Your sincerely,

胡健 (Allia Hu)

米靈岸音樂劇場(Miling'an) 藝術總監 (Artistic Director)

Cell: 886-933236035 / Tel: 886-2-29102305

Friday, February 4, 2011

Taiwanese ambassadors to pop culture

Americans trying to sing Hoklo Taiwanese language.