Taiwanese Hokkien, a topolect of the varieties of Chinese, is spoken by about 70% of the population of Taiwan. The main languages spoken in Taiwanese are dialects of Chinese, a situation which resulted from cultural imperialism of China on Taiwan. Japanese was also introduced to Taiwan during the Japan occupation of Taiwan. Some indigenous languages have managed to survive throughout the history and are spoken by a small minority, mainly the older generation.
Official Language Of The Country
Mandarin Chinese is the official language of the country. Mandarin spoken in Taiwan assumes two forms the Standard Mandarin and theTaiwanese Mandarin (Hokkien). The Standard Mandarin was instituted as the official language during the occupation of the Kuomintang by the Chinese when the use of indigenous languages was highly discouraged. Taiwanese was influenced by Standard Mandarin, indigenous tongues, and other languages. Standard Mandarin is the language of instruction in schools and is mainly popular with the population under 60 years. Standard Mandarin is the most common language used in Taipei, where a majority of the population are mainlanders and do not identify with Taiwanese ancestry.
Vernacular Languages Of Taiwan
Taiwanese (Hokkien) is the primary language used in public and is visible in the transport system. Hokkien is especially significant outside Taipei. The language developed as the Southern Min dialect of Fujian and is the most popular Chinese dialect for Chinese living in other countries. After continuous suppression during the Japanese and Chinese occupations, Hokkien re-emerged with the surge in democracy during the 1990s. The young population in Taiwan is growing up bilingual, with a command of both Taiwanese and Mandarin. Taiwanese is also becoming a common tongue in broadcast media.
The Hakka language is also a variant of Chinese, spoken by an ethnic group called the Hakka. The group has managed to preserve their languages despite the growing influence of Mandarin and Taiwanese. The Hakka group is mostly concentrated in the regions of Kaohsiung, Hsinchu, and Taoyuan.
Aboriginal Languages Of Taiwan
The aboriginal inhabitants of Taiwan continue to pride in their native tongues. Believed to have lived in the country for about 10,000 years, the indigenous groups make up a minority of the total population. These languages are on the brink of extinction and only spoken by an aging population. The strongest of these languages is the Amis, which is being kept alive by relentless education programs. Another language, Siraya, thought to have been extinct is being revived by enthusiasts.
Foreign/Immigrant Languages Of Taiwan
During the Japanese occupation of Taiwan (1895-1945), Japanese was introduced to the country through sustained efforts. Japanese is subsequently more popular with the older generation and is the second largest foreign language in the country. The language is also spoken by business people who studied in Japan and a population of urban youth who look to Japan as a cradle of pop culture.
The most significant of foreign languages in Taiwan is English. Being the undisputed language of international commerce, English has been experiencing a growing number of speakers in the country. The language is taught in schools, a situation which has been attributed to the increasing population of young English proficient speakers.
Numerous other immigrant languages are spoken by thousands of foreigners in Taiwan. These languages include Vietnamese, Tibetan and Mongolian.