Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Now Online: The Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and the Advocacy of Local Autonomy, by Christine Louise Lin

Mark from Pinyin News writes to tell me that he has put online Christine Lin's 100 page magnum opus on the Presbyterian Church in Taiwan and the independence and democracy movement originally published in Sino-Platonic Papers. The file is 8.44 mb, so give it some time. Lots of fascinating detail on language, politics, and culture:
By the end of World War II, Japanese was the primary means of written communication among the educated. However, churchgoers who did not know how to write in Japanese continued to use romanized Taiwanese to communicate with each other. The romanized Taiwanese vernacular was mostly used by Taiwanese Christians and was not a widely used means of mass communication outside of the Presbyterian Church. Although romanization was an easier system for people to learn, the government prohibited non-church publications from using it, and the knowledge of Taiwanese romanization was regarded as a symbol of being Christian. Tainan Theological College promoted literacy in Taiwanese by using romanization for the register used for teaching classes. The College also used romanized Taiwanese script for drafting sermons, reading the Bible, and singing hymns.
In 1974, copies of a Taiwanese-English dictionary, compiled by a Canadian Presbyterian missionary, Bernard L. M. Embree, under the auspices of the Taipei Language Institute were smuggled into Taiwan after the Nationalist government had banned their circulation on the island. The Nationalists banned the dictionary because it contained romanized Taiwanese. A government official said, "We have no objection to the dictionary being used by foreigners. They could use it in mimeographed form. But we don't want it published as a book and sold publicly because of the Romanization it contains. Chinese should not be learning Chinese through Romanization." The irony of this statement was that the dictionary not only gave the romanized forms of words, but also the Chinese characters. The romanization was present since it allowed for a more accurate pronunciation of the words. However, the government did not fmd any use of romanization tolerable since it believed romanization promoted the Taiwanese language. From the beginning of Nationalist rule in Taiwan, the KMT government limited the use of Taiwanese and implemented a program of "Mandarization," in which they forced schools, the military, and the government to use only Mandarin Chinese. Native Taiwanese, who were much more comfortable with their own language, despised this policy since the government limited television programming in Taiwanese to only one and a half hours per day.
Go thou and read!
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Voyu Taokara Lâu said...

In fact, this Taiwanese Romanized orthography survives the language massacre by KMT. When the Taiwanese writing campaign revived around 1985, most of the Christian in Presbyterian Church, especially the youngsters, had lost the reading and writing ability. It is the people outside the church keep on promoting this orthography.

Nowadays, the most popular orthography in Taiwanese publications is the mixture of Romanized and Sinographs. The Ministry of Education has announced a Romanized system of Taiwanese, which is almost the same as the traditional one used in the Presbyterian Church.

Nonetheless, people in Taiwan still know little about Taiwanese writing after Madarinization being pursued more than a half of century.

Christine Lin said...

Thanks for reading and posting! I didn't even know this was now available online!

Michael Turton said...

My pleasure. Really wonderful work! Where are you at present?

Anonymous said...

Thank you. Fascinating blog! I'm currently located in Hong Kong working on international refugee issues.