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[contents][chapter 1][chapter 2][chapter 3][chapter 4][chapter 5][chapter 6][references]

                                        CHAPTER 1- INTRODUCTION

                              1.1  Motivation and purpose of the study

                              1.2 The colonial background of Taiwan

        1.2.1 The aboriginal era

        1.2.2 The west European era (1624-1661)

        1.2.3 The Koxinga era (1661-1683)

        1.2.4 The Ch'ing dynasty era (1863-1895)

        1.2.5 The Japanese era (1895-1945)

                                      1.2.6 The Chinese KMT era (1945-present )

                                      1.2.7 An awareness of Taiwanese

                                1.3 Overview of the study

Although research on language attitudes in Taiwan has been conducted by several investigators, research on written Taiwanese is sparse. The fundamental purpose of this study is to survey the contemporary issues of written Taiwanese. In order to offer readers better understanding of the Taibun movement, this chapter provides general information and background of Taiwan. Section 1.1 is the motivation and purpose of the study. Section 1.2 describes the colonial background of Taiwan, and section 1.3 is the overview of the study. Readers may also refer to chapter 2 for more details of the Taibun issues.

1.1  Motivation and purpose of the study        [back to top]

The decline of vernacular languages in Taiwan has been more and more pronounced and obvious since the Japanese (1895-1945) and Chiang Kai-shek's KMT occupations (1945-present), which respectively adopted Japanese and Mandarin Chinese as the only official languages in Taiwan. Chan's research revealed that "proficiency in Guoyu by the Taiwanese is increasing, while that in Minnanyu is descreasing." (1994: iii). In addition, Young (1989: 55) pointed out that "there is increased use of Mandarin with each succeeding generation. About half (50.9%) of the Hakka and 41.3% of the Southern Min used Mandarin frequently or most of the time with family members of the younger generation." Lu (1988: 73) also indicated that the percentage of Mandarin used by ethnolinguistic Hakka people was 67.48%, and Holo people was 50.09%. Moreover, Huang (1993: 160) pointed out that the aboriginal languages in Taiwan are all endangered. In other words, all the research indicates that there is a shift from native Taiwanese languages toward Mandarin Chinese.

During the rise of political reform since 1980s, more and more people have become aware that they are losing their vernacular languages. As a consequence, people have protested and demanded that the KMT regime to change their monolingual policy to a multilingual policy, and insisted on bilingual education. People have tried to promote native Taiwanese languages in order to maintain their vernaculars. There are two core issues for the Taiwanese language movement. First, the movement wishes to promote spoken Taiwanese in order to maintain people's vernacular speech. Second, the movement attempts to promote and standardize written Taiwanese in order to develop Taiwanese (vernacular) literature. The movement of written Taiwanese since 1980s is generally referred to as the "Taibun (台文)" movement. This is to distinguish from the movement of colloquial writing (白話文運動) in the 1920s. The literature written in Taibun is so-called "Taigi bunhak (台語文學Taigi literature)" or "Bogi bunhak (母語文學Vernacular literature)."

Whether vernacular speech eventually will completely shift to Mandarin or be maintained depends largely on language attitudes. In other words, people's language attitudes play an important role in Taiwan's language future. However, research on language attitudes in Taiwan is rather scanty. Moreover, most research focuses on spoken Taiwanese, and never on written Taiwanese. As mentioned above, Taiwanese promoters are concerned about both spoken and written Taiwanese. People's attitude foward written Taiwanese and its various writing systems is the focus of this paper.

The purpose of this study is to examine readers' responses toward different writing systems of Taibun, written Taiwanese. The subjects of this investigation were limited to the 244 students of Tamkang University and Tamsui College in Taiwan. Seven reading samples with different writing systems were prepared and then subjects were asked to evaluate the characteristics of each sample. The main research questions are:

  1. Does a rater evaluate each of the reading samples differently? If so, what factors influence a rater's judgment?
  2. Do the raters' own characteristics, such as gender, residence, major, national identity and language ability have an effect on their evaluations? In other words, what particular groups of people tend to accept written Taiwanese and what writing systems do they prefer?

1.2 The colonial background of Taiwan          [back to top]

In this section, Taiwan's colonial history is described chronologically from the earliest aboriginal era until the contemporary KMT era.

Before mentioning the diachronic background of Taiwan, it is good to recall some world history: In 1492, Christopher Columbus discovered the New World, and a few years later in 1498 the Portuguese navigator Vasco da Gama opened the sea route between Europe and India by way of The Cape of Good Hope. The end of the fifteenth century was the beginning of the great voyages, and the era of "great discoveries" from the European point of view.

Formosa, the former name of Taiwan, was originally praised as "IIha Formosa (beautiful island)" by Portuguese sailors as they were passed by the beautiful island in the sixteenth century (Su 1980: 52). These words of praise also put Taiwan on the international stage, and later it became involved in the colonialism of west Europe.

          1.2.1 The aboriginal era        [back to top]

Before the Han immigration (漢人) and the European discovery of Taiwan, Taiwanese aborigines, who belong to the Austronesian-Formosan language family (Ethnologue 1996), had already resided in Taiwan over fifty thousand years according to such archaeological discoveries as the Tng-pin pre-historical culture (長濱文化) in southeast Taiwan.

Even though the Taiwanese aborigines currently constitute only 1.7% of the total population of Taiwan (Huang 1993: 13), the aborigines used to be the majority and were distributed all over the island of Taiwan prior to Han immigration, which began in the second half of the seventeenth century. For example, the population of aborigines in 1650 was 68,576 and there were only 15,000 Han people (Iunn 1992: 5-10), most of the Han people were located in southwest Taiwan. Nevertheless, the Taiwanese aborigines never formed a confederated political organization connecting the tribes all over the island at that time.

Due to more and more Han immigration to Taiwan, the indigenous tribes which mainly resided in the western plain areas were more likely to have contact with Han people than the tribes living in the mountains. They either were conquered by Han people or intermarried with them (Su 1980). As time went on, their languages were gradually replaced and their ethnic identities were submerged by the vast number of Han settlers. The friendly tribes were called Sek-hoan (熟番ripe barbarians, sinicized barbarians) by Han people during the Ch'ing () Dynasty, and called Penn-pou chok (平埔plain tribes) later. On the other hand, those tribes which mostly resided in the mountain areas and were hostile to the Han people were called Chhenn-hoan (生番rude barbarian) or Ko-soann chok (高砂族, 高山族; mountain tribes).

Because of the historical tradition of intermarriage, there is an old Taiwanese saying "U Tngsoann-kong, bo Tngsoann-ma (有唐山公, 無唐山媽We have got a Mainland Grandpa, but no Mainland Grandma)" (Kan 1995: 152-162). It reveals that although only 1.7% of the Taiwanese population are currently "pure" aborigines, as a matter of fact, most of the current Taiwanese population are partly descended from aboriginal stock.

          1.2.2 The west European era (1624-1661)        [back to top]

In the early period of the seventeenth century, prior to invading Taiwan, the Hollanders occupied the Pescadores, Phenn-ou (澎湖) islands, which are located in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and the Mainland China for a short period. Pescadores, at that time were regarded as territory of the Ming Dynasty (明朝1368-1644) of China. The Dutch occupation of the Phenn-ou islands caused great anxiety to the Ming Dynasty, because it was regarded as a foothold for further invasion to south China. Therefore, the Ming Dynasty in 1623 sent over tens of thousands of soldiers to fight against the hundreds of Dutch soldiers in 1623. After several months' fighting, some conditions were set up. Those conditions contained first the provision that Hollander soldiers must be withdrawn from Phenn-ou island, which was regarded as a Chinese territory. In return they were to get conditional trade permissions in China. Second, the Ming Dynasty wouldn't intervene in the invasion of Taiwan, which was not regarded as a Chinese territory if the Dutch decided to invade Taiwan (Su 1980: 58). Therefore, in 1624 the Dutch decided to abandon the occupation of Phenn-ou, and turned to occupying southern Taiwan in 1624 until the arrival in 1661 of Koxinga (國姓爺) regime. In addition to Dutch control of southern Taiwan, northern Taiwan was occupied by the Spain between 1626 and 1642.

Conversion to Christianity was also an important purpose of the Dutch in addition to exploiting resources (Su 1980: 80-82). They established churches and schools. Moreover, they developed a Romanized script to translate Testament into native aboriginal languages. This was the first well formed writing system and the first Romanization for writing the native Taiwanese languages in the history of Taiwan. Nowadays the writings are generally called "Sinkang Bunsu (新港文書Sinkang Manuscripts)." There is more detailed discussion on the Sinkang Manuscripts in the section 2.2.1.

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                                 Figure 1. Map of the geographical location of Taiwan.

1.2.3 The Koxinga era (1661-1683)        [back to top]

The first half of seventeenth century saw the fall of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) in China. There were several remnant forces after the last Ming Emperor was killed in the capital Jinlin (金陵) in the year of 1644. One of the remnants Koxinga (國姓爺or鄭成功) who mainly controlled the coastal areas of southeast China, such as Amoy (廈門), tried to restore the Ming Dynasty. However, he lost most of his solders in 1657 in the battle of Jinlin to retake the capital. After that failure, he retreated to occupy Taiwan as a base against Mainland China. As a result, in 1661 he drove away the Hollanders and then set up the Koxinga Regime. This was the first political regime established by Han people in the history of Taiwan (Su 1980: 99-113).

It is Koxinga regime that first brought the Confucianism and the Chinese feudal system to Taiwan. The classical Han writing (文言文) was first adopted as an official writing system in the history of Taiwan. At the end of Koxinga regime, the total number of Han people in Taiwan was around one hundred fifty thousand. From that on, the Taiwanese aborigines were exceeded by Han people.

          1.2.4 The Ch'ing dynasty era (1863-1895)            [back to top]

It would be better say that the Ch'ing () Dynasty proposed to suppress the Koxinga regime in Taiwan, rather say that the Ch'ing dynasty proposed to occupy Taiwan as a territory of China in the case of battle between Ch'ing and Koxinga.

In 1683, the Koxinga regime was under the control of Ch'ing's general Si-long (施琅). The Ch'ing Dynasty originally proposed to withdraw all Ch'ing troops and abandon the Taiwan island after the surrender of Koxinga regime. However, general Si-long opposed this proposal and finally the Ch'ing Dynasty was persuaded in 1684 to declare Taiwan an administrative division Hu () under the Ch'ing Province of Hokkian (福建) in 1684 (Su 1980: 118-120).

During the early period of Ch'ing occupation of Taiwan, the Ch'ing Dynasty set up several prohibitions against the Han immigration to Taiwan. Nevertheless, there were still countless Han people trying to immigrate to Taiwan. There are several traditional Koa-a-chheh (歌仔冊Koa-a songbook) describing the adventure of crossing the torrential Taiwan Strait against the law. Such as "Khng-lang bok koe Taioan koa (勸人莫過台灣歌Don't cross the Taiwan Strait)" (Ong 1993a: 72). At the end of nineteenth century, the population of Taiwan had reached two and a half million (Su 1980: 133).

          1.2.5 The Japanese era (1895-1945)        [back to top]

Taiwan and the Phenn-ou islands were ceded to Japan as a consequence of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (馬關條約) which ended the Sino-Japanese War of 1895. The Japanese colonization of Taiwan was the turning point in the transition from traditional Chinese feudal society to a modern capitalist society (Su 1992: 205-215).

During the Japanese colonial period, the Chinese imperial examination system (科舉制度) was replaced with modern education. Transportation all over the island was established. A great number of surveys and investigations about Taiwan's land, census, ethnicity, languages and customs were done by the Japanese. Those investigations are still useful references and been studied by researchers doing Taiwan studies today, even though they were originally for colonial purposes. Such reports include Japanese-Taiwanese Dictionary (日臺大辭典1907), Taiwanese-Japanese Dictionary (臺日大辭典1931), and Taiwanese Ethnography (台灣文化志1928).

           1.2.6 The Chinese KMT era (1945-present )        [back to top]

At the end of World War II (1945), the Japanese forces surrendered to the Allied Forces. After that, the Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of Chinese Nationalist (國民黨KMT or Kuomintang) took over Taiwan on behalf of Allied Powers under General Order No.1 (Septemper 2, 1945) (Peng 1995: 60-61). Meanwhile, Chiang Kai-shek was fighting against the Chinese Communist Party (中國共產黨) in Mainland China. In 1949, Chiang's troops were completely defeated and then pursued by the Chinese Communists. At that time, Taiwan's national status was supposed to be dealt with by a peace treaty among the fighting nations. However, because of Chiang's defeat in China, Chiang decided to occupy Taiwan as a base under the excuse that "Taiwan was traditionally part of China" and from there fight back to Mainland China (Kerr 1992; Peng 1995; Su 1980; Ong 1993).

While occupying Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek renewed the political regime, the Republic of China (R.O.C.), which was formerly the official name of Chinese government (1912-1949) in Mainland China, and was replaced by the People's Republic of China (P.R.C.) in 1949. Chiang still asserted that ROC was the only legitimate government of China. Because Taiwan was regarded as a base and a part of China in the view of Chiang's KMT regime, Taiwanese were not allowed to identify themselves as Taiwanese but only as Chinese (Ong 1993). Speaking Taiwanese, for example, was forbidden; besides, students were forced to learn Mandarin Chinese, Chinese history, Chinese geography and so forth.

During the Chinese KMT era, Taiwan was under the control of martial law from 1949 to 1987. Taiwanese were not allowed to organize any opposition party, or hold any national level elections, such as presidential and legislative elections. Besides, the Taiwanese people did not have freedom of the press.

The contemporary native political movement was initiated in the second half of 1980s. The leader of KMT, Chiang Ching-kuo, the son of former leader Chiang Kai-shek, died in 1988. His vice president Lee Teng-hui, who was born in Taiwan and was generally regarded as a Taiwanese, succeed Chiang. He, therefore became the first Taiwanese president (1988-2000).

As Lee used to say, "the KMT was a foreign regime." He proposed to let the foreign KMT became a native KMT for Taiwanese (i.e., from China KMT to Taiwan KMT). Because of his policy of Taiwanization (台灣化), some radically conservative KMT members in 1993 quit the KMT and organized the Chinese New Party (新黨) in 1993. As the manifesto of CNP describes (1993), "The New Party affirms the goals of our nations Founding Father Dr. Sun Yat-sen, to preserve national unity." The unification between Taiwan and China was thus the goal of the CNP.

Generally speaking, there are three main political parties in Taiwan, which represented three different ideologies and attitudes toward national status, at the end of twentieth century. First, there is the Taiwanese party, the Democratic Progressive Party, which regards itself as an identity for Taiwanese and is the promoter of Taiwanese independence ("to build the Republic of Taiwan"). Second, there is the KMT party, which represents the identity of both Taiwanese and Chinese, and supports of the "Republic of China on Taiwan." Third, there is the Chinese New Party, which reflects the identity of Chinese and supports unification between Taiwan and China. The numbers of supporters of those three parties were reflected in the percentage of total votes each party received in the Legislative Election of December 1998. DPP received 29.55%, KMT 46.39%, and CNP 7.05%.

1.2.7 An awareness of Taiwanese          [back to top]

      Generally speaking, Taiwan was an indigenous society before Dutch occupation in the early seventeenth century. There was only tribal awareness and no awareness of being "Taiwanese (台灣人)."

      After vast Han immigration, Taiwan became an immigrant society. In the early period of immigration, most of those immigrants just proposed to live in Taiwan provisionally, and they identified themselves with their original clans (宗族) in southeast China (Tan 1994: 140-141). However, during the course of the Ch'ing Dynasty, Taiwan moved from an immigrant society to a native society through the process of indigenization (Tan 1994: 92). That means that the immigrants to Taiwan began to settle down and to distinguish themselves from people who lived in China. Therefore, there is an old Taiwanese saying that "Tngsoann-kheh, tui-poann soeh (唐山客, 對半說You should discount the words of the Chinese people)." It means that you shouldn't believe Chinese too much while you are doing business with them. In short, the late of Ch'ing dynasty era was the origin of a pro-Taiwanese nation in terms of Su (前期性台灣民族) (Su 1992: 196-200).

      Owing to modernization and capitalization during the Japanese occupation, the earlier pro-Taiwanese identity has advanced to Taiwanese nationhood (Su 1992: 220). Those immigrant identities, once attached to the place of their ancestors such as "Chiang-chiu-lang (漳州人Chiang-chiu people)," and "Choan-chiu-lang (泉州人Choan-chiu people)," have been replaced by a developing sense of being a "Taioan-lang (台灣人Taiwanese)" (in contrast to being Japanese). Thereafter, "Taioan-lang" was widely used by the people all over Taiwan.

      The strong Taiwanese identity during the Japanese era could be well illustrated by the following organizations of Taiwanese youth. For example, the guidelines of Sin-Bin Hoe (新民會New People Association), which was established in 1920, mentioned: "To push the political reform in Taiwan in order to improve the happiness of Taiwanese." (Ong 1988: 44-49).

      In addition, the article "Our Island and Us ( 我島與我們1920)" in the Journal of Taiwan Youth (台灣青年), published by the Taiwan Youth Association (台灣青年社), which was organized by overseas Taiwanese students in Tokyo Japan, mentioned: "…Taiwan belongs to the Empire, moreover, Taiwan belongs to us Taiwanese." (Ong 1988: 53).

      Moreover, the declarations (1925) of the Association of Taiwanese Academic Studies (東京台灣學術研究會), which was also organized by some overseas Taiwanese students in Tokyo included:

      "To support the liberation of Taiwan! (支持台灣的解放運動)"

      "To obtain the freedom to speak Taiwanese! (獲得使用台灣話的自由)"

      "Taiwan independence forever and ever! (台灣獨立萬歲)"

      (Ong 1988: 91-92)

      After the identification as a Taiwanese nation during the era of the Japanese occupation, came an era of confused identity (i.e., Taiwanese consciousness versus Chinese consciousness). This was mainly caused by the new immigrants who came into Taiwan along with Chiang around 1949, and most of them still identify themselves as Chinese nowadays. In addition, the KMT Chinese sinoization of Taiwan also played an important role in the construction of national identity.

      More than one million (Huang 1993: 25) solders and refugees, who currently make up 13% of Taiwan's population, came to Taiwan along with the KMT regime around 1949, while the Mainland China was under the control of Chinese Communist Party. They were called "Goa-seng-lang (外省人Mainlanders or people from other provinces)" by native Taiwanese. According to Hu-chhing Ong (1993), 54% of Mainlanders identified themselves as Chinese, only 7.3% identified themselves as Taiwanese, the rest are neutral. In other words, most of those Mainlanders still identify themselves as Chinese nowadays.

      During the early occupation of Taiwan by the Chiang Kai-shek's KMT regime, there occurred the "February 28 Massacre (二二八屠殺1947)," in which more than twenty thousand Taiwanese were killed by Chiang's troops (Kerr 1992: 303). The February 28 Massacre was followed by the well-known 1950s "White Terror Era (白色恐怖時期)" in the history of Taiwan. In addition to the Chiang autocracy and exploiting of economic resources, the cultural contrast between Taiwanese and Chinese also caused the February 28 massacre (Su 1980; Kerr 1992). Since the awareness of being a Taiwanese was a threat to the Chinese KMT regime, the KMT regime proposed to "brain wash" Taiwanese through the national education system and the mass media (Ong 1993: 70-71). As a result, many Taiwanese, especially the younger generations, came to identify themselves as Chinese. According to Ong's survey (1993), the percentage of Chinese identity among Taiwanese (excluding Mainlanders here) age 50-59 is 9.3%, for those age 40-49, it is 18.3%, for those age 30-39 is 20.5%, and for those age 20-29 is 30.5%.

      Generally speaking, there are three main national identities among people in Taiwan. First, there are those with Taiwanese identity. They usually support an independent Taiwan within the Republic of Taiwan, instead of the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China. Second, there are those who are both Taiwanese and Chinese. Their ambiguous identity is reflected in their ambiguous attitudes toward national status (i.e., they wish to maintain the ambiguous national status). Third, there are those with Chinese identity. Even though they also call themselves Taiwanese, their idea of Taiwanese is primarily a regional consciousness within a Chinese national identity. They propose to unify with the People's Republic of China in the future under some conditions, such as PRC becomes democratic and achieves the same living level as Taiwan.

      The percentage of these three typical national identities is well reflected in the percent of the vote of the first direct presidential election held in 1996. There were four sets of presidential candidates: (1) Peng Ming-min (彭明敏21.13%), candidate of the Democracy Progressive Party, which was the first opposition party during KMT era, and was traditionally regarded as a Taiwanese party, (2) Lee Teng-hui (李登輝54.00%), candidate of the Taiwan KMT, which represent an ambiguous identity of both Taiwanese and Chinese, (3) Lim Iunn-kang (林洋港14.9%), who was the the representative of Chinese New Party, and represented the identity Chinese. The fourth set was Tan Li-an (陳履安 9.98%) who represented neutral identity.

      In addition to the data from the 1996 presidential election, we may look at a survey done in January 1999 by the TVBS poll center, based on 1,176 subjects. 22.7% of subjects intended to support Taiwan independence, 49.4% intended to maintain ambiguous national status, and 15% preferred to unify with China in the future.

      In short, the people of Taiwan today remain divided in the view of themselves and where they should go politically. Their diversity of national identity has affected not only political issues regarding Taiwan's national status, but also cultural issues, such as Taiwanese writing and Taiwanese literature, which are the main concerns of the contemporary Taibun movement. That is why the colonial background of Taiwan was given in these sections for readers' better understanding of the Taibun movement.

1.3 Overview of the study        [back to top]

Chapters 1 and 2 sketches the socio-historical background of Taiwan and the modern Taibun movement, which can give a reader a background about why and how the people in Taiwan have promoted their vernaculars. Chapter 3 reviews some literature regarding previous research on language attitudes in Taiwan, and on written Taiwanese. Chapter 4 describes the methodology of this research, including methods, questionnaire design, selections of writing samples and subjects, the conducting procedure and the data analysis. Chapter 5 exhibites the statistical results and discussion of the investigations. Chapter 6 provides the summary, conclusion of this study, and recommendations for further studies.


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