Even though tomorrow’s Uanliu Music Festival (灣流音樂祭) features an all-Taiwanese lineup, virtually no Mandarin will be heard.
Instead, the sounds of some of Taiwan’s once-suppressed languages — Hoklo (commonly known as Taiwanese), Hakka, Atayal and Amis — will permeate the two stages and booths next to National Taiwan University’s (NTU) Drunken Moon Lake.
The eclectic lineup includes Hakka folk icon Lin Sheng-hsiang (林生祥), last year’s Golden Indie-winning fusion group ChuNoodle (春麵), Hoklo indie rockers Windmill (風籟坊) and Atayal chanteuse Yaway Mawring.
Photo courtesy of ChuNoodle
Put together and crowdfunded by members of the NTU Student Association’s native languages task force (本土語言小組) and NTU Taigi Bun Sia (台語文社, Taiwanese language club), the event is an attempt to get students to take interest in the issue of language endangerment and revitalization, which organizers say is often ignored.
Event coordinator Lim Liu-sin (林柔辰) says that the most popular social topics on campus are gender issues and transitional justice, but she has noticed more people expressing interest at least in learning Hoklo over the past year. A Taichung native, she grew up speaking the language and competed in reading competitions, but after she moved to Taipei she found that there were virtually no opportunities to use it.
“Only then did I realize that the Taiwanese language is disappearing and how important the issue is,” she says.
Co-organizer Liau Tsun-khai (廖俊凱), whose parents spoke it at home but never to him, also experienced the same thing after moving to Taipei.
On the other hand, although most of Jay Wei’s (韋晢) family came to Taiwan from China in 1949 and his mother tongue is Mandarin, he joined the native languages task force because he sees these languages as a way of establishing a distinct Taiwanese identity, and is also crucial to transitional justice.
However, the students believe that the only way to truly preserve these languages is full immersion — rather than having one class in their mother tongues and the rest in Mandarin. Documentary filmmaker and Aboriginal rights activist Mayaw Biho, who is running an Amis-language immersion preschool in Hualien, will speak about this as one of the guests.
“The biggest obstacle right now is that ... most people are too accustomed to speaking Mandarin,” Lim says. “We can only strive to use our mother tongues more, and start by establishing small speaking groups and gradually expand and connect them.”
Lim’s hope is that one day, it will be a very natural practice to call someone by their name in their mother tongue instead of Mandarin.
“That means that these languages are being used on a daily basis,” she says.
Liau wishes that people see these languages less as tools but as carriers of culture, and that any Taiwanese can feel comfortable learning whichever one they are interested in.
“I don’t want people to think that if you have no practical use for Amis, or if you’re Hakka, then you should not learn Amis,” he says. “If you appreciate a certain culture, there’s no reason you can’t learn their language.”
Uanliu Music Festival (灣流音樂祭)
When: Tomorrow from 1:30pm to 9:30pm
Where: Drunken Moon Lake, National Taiwan University, 1, Roosevelt Rd Sec 4, Taipei City (台北市羅斯福路四段一號)
On the Net: www.facebook.com/uanliufestival
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