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‘No One at School Can Speak Pangcah’: Family Language Policy in an Indigenous Home in Taiwan

In: International Journal of Taiwan Studies
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  • 1 Chief of the Pangcah Indigenous Language Regeneration Association and PhD Student at College of Indigenous Studies, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien, Taiwan, sifolakaw@gmail.com
  • | 2 Professor, Department of Ethnic Relations and Cultures, College of Indigenous Studies, National Dong Hwa University, Hualien, Taiwan, kerim.friedman@oxus.net
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Abstract

Olic is one of the only members of her generation to be raised speaking Pangcah (Amis) as her first language. Through an exploration of how one family is fighting to save this endangered Austronesian language, we analyse the challenges facing Indigenous language revitalisation in Taiwan. Particular attention is paid to the child’s transition from the home to formal—Mandarin-medium—schooling. In doing so, we draw on recent work that emphasises the agency of children in shaping family language policy (also referred to as ‘family language planning’). How do children’s experiences at school shape their—and other family members’—linguistic behaviour at home? After comparing Taiwan’s current family language policy to similar efforts elsewhere, we conclude by arguing that taking children’s agency seriously means that family language policy must be combined with changes in formal schooling as well—changes that are best implemented by the Indigenous communities themselves.

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