Aug 17, 2012
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A cab driver on a cultural mission

If you hop in Pan Ching-hsiung’s cab in the Greater Kaohsiung area of Taiwan, you may get more than a cab ride.

Concerned for the fate of the native languages of Taiwan, Pan is handing out flyers and initiating discussions with passengers about the importance of perpetuating native languages.  He believes the promotion of Mandarin by the former Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is partly to blame for the decrease in use of native languages.

Beyond simply encouraging parents to speak their native tongue with their children, Pan is asking the Taiwanese Mother Language League to seek compensation from the KMT for the Mandarin-first policy that has led to native language decline.

To read more, check out this article in the Taipei Times.

And if you are interested in some indigenous music from Taiwan, check out Biung’s self-titled album “Biung.”  Biung is a member of the Bunan tribe.  I came across his album when discussing music with a young indigenous woman in Taipei.  She told me that many of the younger generation were not listening to, singing, or playing traditional, indigenous music.  Biung, already a popular musician,  took some of the traditional songs and put them to “modern” beats and instruments.  While some might argue that the songs done in this style are no longer “traditional,” the young woman told me that thanks to Biung, more younger people now know and sing these songs.