Hakka Affairs Council (HAC) Minister Lee Yung-de headed for Miaoli County on May 28 to issue a certification recognizing the friendly Hakka-speaking environment of the Miaoli County Council. He announced that the council of Miaoli County is Taiwan’s first government institution where the Hakka language is fully spoken.
Lee also declared with excitement that this is a milestone for the implementation of the Hakka Basic Act. The Hakka language, which was primarily used within households in the past, has officially returned to the public sphere. Inability to understand Hakka is not a concern for those working in the council chamber of Miaoli County, Lee added.
In terms of passing down one’s mother language, Lee mentioned that speaking is far more important than passive learning. Instead of being spoken merely at home and in school, the Hakka language will now be more often used in public spaces including local governments, councils, and township offices so that more opportunities can be created to converse and communicate in Hakka.
Minister Lee also shared his experience of visiting Catalonia in Spain. He noted that it is a perfect example for Taiwan to follow as Catalonian is spoken in the local councils.
After the National Languages Development Act was passed on Dec. 25, 2018, Hakka has officially become one of Taiwan’s national languages. According to the Hakka Basic Act that was implemented on Jan. 31, 2018, Hakka shall be the main language spoken in Miaoli County, where Hakka people comprise over one-third of the county’s population.
HAC has launched a pilot program on Hakka-Mandarin interpretation
services for the Miaoli County Council since May 20. This program, which aims
to provide those who do not understand the Hakka language with an opportunity
to participate in Hakka-speaking meetings, gained support from Council Speaker
Chung Tung-chin (鍾東錦) and other councilors.
Chung approved of the program’s electronic and human interpreters for their accessibility and precision. He also suggested that councilors with Hoklo and indigenous origins should speak their mother tongue during the process of interpellation. Passing down one’s mother language(s) is everyone’s responsibility, he added.
Based on the Hakka Basic Act, “the right of the people to learn Hakka language and use public services, media resources shall be protected.” Also, “governmental institutions shall provide public services, Hakka broadcasting in public areas, translation services and other measures to create accessible language environments for the Hakka language users for communication needs.”
Hence, HAC has been holding training programs to fulfill the demand for Hakka-Mandarin interpretation from public and private sectors. More information about how to access professional Hakka interpretation services can be found on the HAC’s official website. It is expected that government agencies in Taiwan will continue to broaden the scope of their Hakka-language services, protect the right to use Hakka, and promote it by speaking Hakka in the public sphere.