Mittwoch, 20. Mai 2015, 18:15 - 20:00 iCal

Negotiating Language from Below

Huang Shihui and Nativist Literature

Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften/Sinologie
Spitalgasse 2 Court 2 Entrance 2.3, 1090 Wien


During Japanese colonial rule (1895-1945), the Japanese government implemented a monolingual language policy aimed at establishing Japanese as the national language of colonial Taiwan and the dominant language ofeducation. Various Taiwanese intellectuals opposed this policy by promoting the Taiwanese local language known as taiwanhua or taiyu ‘from below’, i.e. without the backing of official language planning agencies. Their aim was to establish Taiwanese as an accepted medium of literary composition. One well-known representative of this movement was Huang Shihui (1900-45), the initiator of the so-called nativist literature.

Most previous studies analyze Huang Shihui and other proponents of nativist literature as figures of Taiwan literature history. This perspective, I will argue in my talk, ignores many important aspects of Huang Shihui’s work and overemphasizes his position in literary contexts. As a matter of fact, Huang himself has not written a single literary work of any lasting significance. I claim that a close reading of Huang Shihui’s essays from the perspective of language planning will lead to a more satisfying analysis, capturing various dimensions of his language policy and providing us with a more nuanced understanding of his ideological convictions. I will conclude that Huang’s role as an ideological trailblazer of a distinct Taiwanese cultural identity is overemphasized in previous studies. Instead, dichotomies like “pro-Taiwanese” vs. “pro-Chinese” do not apply to his sociolinguistic agenda.

Zur Webseite der Veranstaltung


Vienna Center for Taiwan Studies


Astrid Lipinsky
Universität Wien, Institut für Ostasienwissenschaften
4277 43844