Preserving Taiwan’s indigenous languages and cultures

You can find the new on-line dictionary that is the subject of this story at


  • 表示    biÇŽo shì    to express; to show; to say; to state; to indicate; to mean
  • 原住民    yuán zhù mín    indigenous peoples; aborigine
  • 編纂    biān zuÇŽn    compile
  • 尤其是    yóu qí shì    especially; most of all; above all; in particular
    尤其    yóu qí    especially; particularly
  • 參考    cān kÇŽo    consultation; reference; to consult; to refer
    參    cān    take part in; participate; join; attend; to join; unequal; varied; irregular; to counsel; uneven; not uniform; abbr. for 參議院|参议院 Senate, Upper House
  • 恢復    huÄ« fù    to reinstate; to resume; to restore; to recover; to regain; to rehabilitate
  • 涵蓋    hán gài    to cover; to comprise; to include
  • 部落    bù luò    tribe
  • 平埔族    Píng pÇ” zú    Pingpu or Pepo indigenous people; ethnic group (Taiwan), “plain tribes”
  • 達悟族    Dá wù zú    Tao or Yami, one of the indigenous peoples of Taiwan
  • 令人    lìng rén    to cause sb (to do); to make one (feel sth); (used in constructing words for feelings such as anger, surprise, sympathy etc)
  • 大多數    dà duō shù    (great) majority

Taiwan News Online

e-dictionary preserves dying indigenous languages, cultures
原住民語言、文化瀕危 辭典E化好保存
By 中央社:編譯劉耀畬2010-06-02 00:00:00

An e-dictionary of the languages and cultures of Taiwan’s indigenous people has been compiled to help preserve indigenous mother tongues and collective memories that are quickly dying out, the Ministry of Education said Monday.

The MOE urged people, particularly Taiwan’s aborigines, to take advantage of the e-dictionary, which can be found on the Web site http: //

The ministry said the reference work would help users reinforce, learn or revive these dying languages and cultures before it is too late. It covers the mother tongues of 14 indigenous mountain tribes and the Pingpu plains (low-lying areas) aborigines.

The need for the e-dictionary on indigenous cultures was highlighted by the eye-opening visit to Taipei of a member of the Tao (Yami) tribe on Orchid Island.

The Tao man, known as Chou Lung-fa in Chinese, was in Taipei to collect his prize money after winning a contest to quit smoking. But what shocked people had nothing to do with giving up cigarettes.

Instead, in accepting the award, Chou spoke in the Tao language because he “didn’t know how to speak Mandarin Chinese,” a rare phenomenon at a time when most indigenous people in Taiwan, particularly younger generations, don’t speak their mother tongues.

Taiwan’s indigenous languages, however, are dying out because of cultural assimilation, according to National Dong Hwa University in Hualien, which was one of the compilers of the e-dictionary.

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