Saturday, May 01, 2010

A response to a blogger

Cited: 'Thirty seven years of Dutch rule had failed to produce any identifiable Dutch-speaking Aboriginal groups and yet in 22 years of Ming-Cheng, they not only battled the Ming-Cheng soldiers but also learned to speak Hoklo at the same time?' (the original post)

This argument is very persuasive. However, to make it even perfect, please note the different cultural mindsets of the Chinese and Dutchmen.

Of course, they both treated the aboriginals in Taiwan as more or less barbarians and needed to be civilized in that time. The Chinese brought their Confucianism and the Dutchmen Christianity. Nonetheless, they show very different attitudes to the aboriginal languages. The Sinograph-centric Chinese did not acknowledge the aboriginal cultures and languages at all. They always considered themselves the Middle Kingdom with a heavenly emperor, and thought that completely Sinicization is the only way to civilize the barbarians. On the other hand, Dutchmen wanted to Christianize the aboriginals but preserve the aboriginal languages and cultures at the same time. These two different mindsets can be well observed from the literature left by them.

Remember the first ever writing system of Taiwanese aboriginal was designed by the Dutchmen (Siraya新港文書). The Dutchmen taught the aboriginal children to write in their own languages. In addition, they proffered the aboriginals Gospels and catechism in the aboriginal languages. It is usually the Dutch missionaries learned to speak aboriginal languages but not vice versa.

What about the egocentric Chinese? Even today, we still have no Chinese classics translated into aboriginal languages in Taiwan, do we? (I believe that, for some Chinese, they would even think to translate the holy Chinese classics into aboriginal ‘barbarian’ languages is kind of profaning or at least bothersome. It is the barbarians in ‘their’ territories obliged to learn the Chinese languages but not vice versa). Moreover, all the colonial rulers, except the Chinese ones, systematically designed writing systems and compiled dictionaries of aboriginal languages. Do these mean nothing at all? And do you really think that the different mindsets of rulers would not bring up different linguistic motives among the aboriginals?

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