TAIPEI — Taiwan’s government sounded a cultural emergency this summer. The native language of a village of aboriginal Rukai people is in danger of dying out. So the cabinet has begun collecting records that could save that dialect and eight others from being overtaken by the dominant Mandarin Chinese.
Aborigines were dominant in Taiwan for some 8,000 years. Then four centuries ago migrants began to arrive by sea from nearby China, and Chinese now make up 98 percent of the population. In the 1960s, former Taiwan leader Chiang Kai-shek ordered an assimilation of the aboriginals, requiring that they use Mandarin Chinese.
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