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Romanization and Language Planning in Taiwan

Wi-vun Taiffalo Chiung
The University of Texas at Arlington.


Although Taiwan is currently a Hancha (Han characters)-dominated society, romanization was in fact the first writing system used in Taiwan. The first romanized orthography is the Sinkang manuscripts introduced by the Dutch missionaries in the first half of the seventeenth century. Thereafter, Han characters were imposed to Taiwan by the Sinitic Koxinga regime that followed in the second half of the seventeenth century. As the number of Han immigrants from China dramatically increased, Han characters gradually became the dominant writing system. At present, romanization for Mandarin Chinese is an auxiliary script simply used for transliteration purpose. As for Taiwanese romanization, it is mainly used by particular groups, such as church followers and the Taiwanese writing circle. This paper provides readers an overall introduction to the history and current development of romanization in Taiwan from the perspectives of literacy and sociolinguistics.

Key words: romanization, Peh-oe-ji, Sinkang, Pinyin, language planning