Voices of Taiwan

  Language is more than just what we use to talk to each other. The way we speak expresses who we are, where our ancestors1 came from, and where we are going to in the future. Language is closely connected to culture, which means it is part of our personal identities. Even though Taiwan is merely a small island, many languages are spoken on it. Some are languages in the Chinese language family while others began right here on the island. Together, these languages and others make up the voices of Taiwan.

  The first languages in Taiwan were the Formosan languages. These are the languages of the indigenous2 peoples of Taiwan. Initially, there were 26 Formosan languages, but many of them have become extinct. The first ones to die out were those spoken on the western plains because of foreign traders3 and explorers4. Today, some people are putting a lot of effort into saving Formosan languages before they are lost for good. The Formosan languages have great historic value. Linguists5 have discovered that the languages spoken on almost all of the Pacific islands came from Taiwan. Examples include the languages of Hawaii, Madagascar, New Zealand, and mainland6 Malaysia.

  Hakka is one of the languages that were brought over from China. Those who speak it have ancestors who once lived in Guangdong, Jiangxi, or Fujian. Hakka people moved around a lot in history. Therefore, Hakka speakers can be found throughout the world.

  語言不僅僅是我們用來互相交談的工具。我們說話的方式還表達出我們是誰、我們的祖先來自何方,以及我們未來的方向。語言和文化密不可分,這也意謂著它是我們個人認同感的一部份。雖然台灣只是座小島,但是島上人們說著許多種語言。有些語言屬於中文語系,然而有些則發源於這座島上。這些及其它語言共同形成了台灣之聲。

  台灣最早的語言是台灣南島語言。這些是台灣原住民的語言。台灣南島語言起初有二十六種,不過大多數都已失傳。最早絕跡的語言是在西部平原所使用的話,這是受到外來商人和探險者影響之故。如今,有些人正竭盡心力要在台灣南島語言永遠失傳前挽救它們。台灣南島語言有著重要的歷史意義。語言學家發現幾乎所有太平洋群島上使用的語言都源於台灣。例如夏威夷、馬達加斯加、紐西蘭和馬來西亞本土等地所說的語言。

  客家話是傳自中國的語言之一。說客家話的人,其祖先曾住在廣東、江西,或福建。過去客家人經常遷移。因此在世界各地都能找到說客家話的人。

《Building Your Vocabulary》
1. closely adv. 密切地,緊密地
The two murder cases are closely related.
這兩件謀殺案有著密切的關聯。
2. identity n.(民族、個人等的)認同感
Koreans have a strong national identity.
韓國人有著強烈的國家認同感。
3. merely adv. 僅僅,只不過
前期其他文章