Amazing Hakka

Language and traditions

The distribution and resurgence of the Hakka language

Hakka Dialects

There are five main dialects of Hakka Chinese. The Sixian (Hakka: Siyen) dialect originated from Jiaying, Guangdong, has six tones and is the most widely-spoken dialect. The Hailu (Hakka: Hoiliuk) dialect, the second most prevalent dialect, originated from Haifeng and Lufeng, Guangdong, and has seven tones. There are also the Daipu (Hakka: Tai Pu) dialect from Chaozhou, Guangdong, the Raoping dialect from Raoping, Guangdong, and the Zhoan dialect from Zhangzhou, Fujian, which preserves the most ancient sounds and meanings of classical Chinese. The various accents are widely spread throughout Taiwan. In addition to the five main dialects, there are the northern Xihai dialect and the patchily-distributed Yongding, Fengshun, Wuping, Wuhua, and Jiexi dialects.

Map of Accent Distribution

  • The Sixian dialect
    Taoyuan County: Zhongli, Longtan, Pingzhen, Yangmei. Hsinchu County: Guanxi (partially distribution). Miaoli County: Miaoli City, Gongguan, Toufen, Dahu, Tongluo, Sanyi, Xihu, Nanzhuang, Touwu, Zhuolan (large distribution). Taitung County: Chishang, Guanshan, Luye, Chenggong, Taima, Peinan. Pingdong County: Zhutian, Wanluan, Neibu, Changzhi, Linluo, Xinpi, Jiadong, Gaoshu. Kaohsiung County: Meinong, Shanlin, Liugui.
  • The Hailu dialect
    Taoyuan County: Guanyin, Xinwu, Yangmei. Hsinchu County: Xinfeng, Xinbu, Hukou, Qionglin, Hengshan, Guanxi (partial distribution), Beibu, Baoshan, Emei, Zhudong. Hualien County: Jian, Shoufeng, Guangfu, Yuli, Ruisui, Fenglin.
  • The Dabu dialect
    Miaoli County: Zhuolan (Zhongjie, Neiwan, Shuiwei). Taichung County: Dongshi, Shigang, Xinshe, Heping.
  • The Raoping dialect
    Taoyuan County: Zhongli (Zhiba Village, Xingnan Village, Sanzuo wu, Guoling Village), Pingzhen (Nanshi Village), Xinwu (Litouzhou), Guanyin (Xinpo Village); Bade (Xiaoli). Hsinchu County: Zhubei (Liujia), Qionglin (Shangshan). Miaoli County: Zhuolan (Laozhuang).
  • The Zhao-an dialect
    Yunlin County: Lunbei, Erlun, Xiluo.

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The Hakka Language

According to academic studies carried out in 1994, the number of true Hakka speakers in Taiwan was being lost at a rate of 5% per year. According to a survey conducted by the Council for Hakka Affairs, only 11.6% of Taiwanese Hakka under the age of thirteen can fluently speak some dialect of Hakka. In 2003, only 43.6% of Hakka are able to speak or understand Hakka. These figures led to the language recovery program, which focuses on four areas: the promotion of Hakka Language Schools, coordination with the Ministry of Education to strengthen the teaching of native languages such as Hakka, promotion of the Hakka language in the public, and strengthening the promotion of the Hakka language. The creation of Hakka-speaking campus environments in Hakka language schools are multiplying annually; the implementation of Hakka language classes and number of participants are also increasing. The Hakka Accessibility Project, the promotion of Hakka language in the arena of public transportation, and the broadcasting and growth of Hakka TV, along with a variety of radio, internet, and publications have all helped to bring Hakka language back into real life usage.

The People and the Land

The distribution of the Hakka and the cultural landscape

The main pockets of the Hakka population in northern Taiwan are in Taoyuan, Hsinchu, and Miaoli counties; in the south, Kaohsiung county and the Liutui areas in the Pingtung county; in central Taiwan, Taichung, Nantou, Changhua and Yunlin counties; and in eastern Taiwan, there are Hakka settlements in villages and towns in the Yilan, Hualien and Taitung counties. Are you Hakka? According to the 2004 Taiwanese Hakka population survey, 2.859 million self-identified themselves as Hakka; those who find themselves capable of accepting two or more identities, 4.412 million; and 6.084 million identify themselves as Hakka or are descendants of Taiwanese Hakka. In Taiwan, there is one Hakka for every 3.7 individuals. Have you ever paid serious attention to these individuals? From Baisha Bay to Jialeshui, from the Yilan Plains to the Huatung Valley, there are traces of the Hakka everywhere. This invisible population is, in fact, hiding in plain sight. From the festivals and construction to specialties, have you heard of or visited Hakka villages? Have you enjoyed their hospitality?

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