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Romanization and
Language Planning in Taiwan

Wi-vun Taiffalo Chiung

1.      Introduction

      Although Taiwan is currently a Hancha (Han characters)-dominated society, romanization once was the unique and first writing system used in Taiwan. This system of romanization was 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 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 in Taiwan. At present, only Han characters and modern standard Chinese are taught in Taiwan’s national education system. In contrast, romanization is excluded from school education.

      This paper intends to provide readers an overall introduction to the history and current development of romanization in Taiwan from the perspectives of literacy and sociolinguistics. In this paper, the socio-political background of Taiwan is described first, followed by an introduction to each romanization era, and ending with a conclusion on the future of romanized writing in Taiwan.