#282      33 min 19 sec
Speaking Siraya: Revitalizing a dormant language, rediscovering cultural identity

Historical and descriptive linguist Assoc Prof Alexander (Sander) Adelaar discusses efforts to piece together from scant historical sources the once dormant Taiwanese language of Siraya, and explains the language’s influence on a reawakening of cultural identity. Presented by Eric van Bemmel.

"People who first were rather sceptical have now become devout language learners and are greeting each other in Siraya, singing songs in Siraya. Things have gone very fast.  So we shouldn’t laugh at this revitalisation process." -- Dr Sander Adelaar




Assoc Prof Sander Adelaar
Assoc Prof Sander Adelaar

Dr. Alexander Adelaar (FAHA) is a Fellow-in-Residence in the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences (NIAS) and a Principal Fellow of Asia Institute at the University of Melbourne. His research is on the structure and history of Austronesian languages, with emphasis on varieties of Malay and the languages of Borneo, Madagascar and Taiwan. Dr. Adelaar is currently involved in a study of the linguistic and migration history of Madagascar with a grant from the Australian Research Council. He is the author of Siraya: Retrieving the phonology, grammar and lexicon of a dormant Formosan language (Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2011), Salako or Badameà: Sketch grammar, texts and lexicon of a Kanayatn dialect of West Borneo (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2005), and Proto-Malayic: The reconstruction of its phonology and parts of its morphology and lexicon (Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, 1992). He is also co-editor of The Austronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar (London: Routledge, 2005).

Credits

Presenter: Eric van Bemmel
Producers: Kelvin Param, Eric van Bemmel
Audio Engineers: Jeremy Taylor
Voiceover: Nerissa Hannink
Series Creators: Eric van Bemmel and Kelvin Param

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VOICEOVER 

 


This is Up Close, the research talk show from the University of Melbourne, Australia. 

ERIC VAN BEMMEL 
I'm Eric van Bemmel.  Thanks for joining us.  By the end of the twenty-first century more than half the world's 7000 human languages are expected to have disappeared, to have become extinct, but while we regularly see stories in the media of the death of the last native speakers of once endangered and indigenous languages and other accounts of linguistic doom and gloom, there are examples of languages long out of use now undergoing rediscovery or revitalisation.  Renewed attention to once dormant languages is not just a matter of history or linguistics.  These languages are important carriers of identity for indigenous or aboriginal groups culturally dominated by a wider society and state.  There is the knowledge thought to be uniquely embedded in these languages, plus there are the educational efforts needed to reawaken or consolidate languages in ethnic communities that once but no longer spoke them widely.What's more, as we will hear, revitalising language can serve political ends, even for among those well outside the community of speakers.  One such dormant language now being revitalised is Siraya, spoken in the south western coastal plains of the island of Taiwan.  To tell us about Siraya and how it serves as a powerful example of a reawakening language is one of the principal linguists working on the language, Associate Professor Alexander Adelaar, author of Siraya: Retrieving the Phonology, Grammar and Lexicon of a Dormant Formosan Language.  Doctor Adelaar is a fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences or NIAS and honorary principal fellow at Asia Institute here at the University of Melbourne.   Sander, as he prefers to be called, has appeared before on Up Close in Episode 127 about the linguistic origins of the people of Madagascar.  Sander joins us on a Skype connection from the Netherlands.  Sander, welcome back to Up Close.

SANDER ADELAAR
Thank you very much for the opportunity to talk about my research.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Sander, you're a historical and descriptive linguist.  If I were to sit alongside you at your work, what am I likely to see?

SANDER ADELAAR
Well, in this particular project you would see me looking at texts that were written a long time ago and trying to make a grammar out of the material.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
There's a certain amount of deciphering.

SANDER ADELAAR
Yes, deciphering and trying to find a way among the grammatical and also orthographic variety that I come across.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Sander, what do you mean by orthographic variety?

SANDER ADELAAR
Words can be spelled in different ways.  Words can also be misheard.  If you try to write in a foreign language you often don’t know how to spell the words that you come across.  These were obviously problems that the people who produced the texts that I've worked with were facing.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Now, we're going to get into some of those texts in a moment and the Siraya language in particular, but I want to keep it fairly broad-brush at the moment.  There are families of languages, of human languages, how are they defined?  How do we group languages together in families?

SANDER ADELAAR
Languages are related just like people are related.  For instance English is more closely related to German and Dutch and Scandinavian languages than it is to say Spanish or Portuguese or let alone Russian or Armenian and Greek, or languages elsewhere in the world.  So languages are related.  They are usually a member of a family of languages.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Is this what linguists mean when they talk about linguistic genetic diversity?

SANDER ADELAAR
Yes, languages are derived from an original stock language in many cases.  It's sometimes more complicated than that, but still for instance the Germanic languages, the Scandinavian languages, Dutch, German, English, Gothic, they were all member[s] of the Germanic language family and they derived from an earlier language which we usually call proto-Germanic.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Your field of study is the Austronesian language family.  Can you tell us a bit about that family, its breadth and size?

SANDER ADELAAR
The Austronesian language family has many members.  It has like more than 1000 members.  The Polynesian languages, the languages of the Philippines, most languages actually of West and Central Indonesia as well as most languages of Timor and the original languages of Taiwan and the language of Madagascar, they're all related and they're all members of one language family which we call the Austronesian language family.  They derive from a proto-language which we call proto-Austronesian.  

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
But Taiwan, the island of Taiwan off the coast of China is an important jumping off point for Austronesian.  Can you tell us why Taiwan is so important in this Austronesian family connection?

SANDER ADELAAR
Languages evolve.  When a speech community becomes more complicated and people move out, their language develops into several dialects and over time these dialects become languages.  The Austronesian languages have evolved this way as well over 6000 years.  Languages can be grouped into subgroups, that is when they are closely related, but major divergences within a language family are called branches.  What happens at the base for instance German and Dutch or Scandinavian languages that are very closely related, those are what we call subgroups.  So branches are at a higher node than subgroups. Now, if you look at the Austronesian language family then you see that the original stock language split into several branches and one of these branches generated all the languages that are Austronesian outside Taiwan where several branches are only represented within Taiwan.  So the diversity is all over the place.  There are Austronesian languages everywhere and they're all different, but the genetic diversity is highest within Taiwan because their primary branches are represented, whereas outside of Taiwan all the languages belong to one primary branch which we call Malayo-Polynesian.   

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
So is it correct to say then that the language spoken say in Central Java has more in common with Hawaiian than say two separate branches of Austronesian on the same island of Taiwan?

SANDER ADELAAR
That's right, because Hawaiian and Javanese and the language of Madagascar and Tagalog, they are all very different, but they are historically closer together and more closely related than they are to any of the languages of Taiwan which represent a much wider genetic variety.  Not only vis-à-vis the Malayo-Polynesian languages, but also towards each other.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Even though they may be only separated by 10s or 100s of kilometres?

SANDER ADELAAR
That's right.  They have influenced one another, but they are genetically very, very distant so to speak.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
The surface differences between these Austronesian languages outside of Taiwan, again comparing say Hawaiian with Central Javanese, they're so different, the speakers can't understand each other I imagine hardly at all, so how does a linguist actually sort out their links that they are actually genetically closer than these say divergent valleys on the smaller island of Taiwan?

SANDER ADELAAR
There are all kinds of phonological methods and statistical methods and also methods of grammatical reconstruction which work towards determining whether the distance is larger or smaller between two languages within a language family, but it would be a bit complicated to discuss that here.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Now, in the seventeenth century Taiwan had 25 languages documented.  Ten of them now extinct, five are endangered.  The remainder are not under immediate threat because they’ve got speakers in some 1000s at least, or 10s of 1000s in some cases, but can the vitality of these languages be gauged from the numbers of their speakers?

SANDER ADELAAR
Not always, number of speakers is an indicator of how vital a language is, but there are other factors which are just as important.  For instance, does the older generation pass the language on to a younger generation?  Is there a generation gap?  If there is a generation gap the language is basically endangered.Another factor is, is there a lot of intermarriage?  Is the language used in education?  Is there a lot of migration, out migration and in migration of people speaking other languages that are more prestigious or more mainstream?  All these factors are threatening the vitality of a language.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
You made the distinction between a dormant language versus a dead language.

SANDER ADELAAR
Basically a dead language is a sort of unpleasant term for a language that is not spoken anymore.  Languages can be spoken again and therefore the term dormant is more appropriate and certainly more pleasant.  If we take a language like Hebrew which hadn’t been spoken for a long time, it is spoken again today in some form at least, therefore we prefer to say the language was dormant and is now being spoken again than that the language was dead which means that you can never speak it again basically.  It's the implication more than that there's a difference of subject matter.  It's basically the same term.  It's just politically incorrect to say nowadays amongst certain people to use dead.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
I'm Eric van Bemmel and on Up Close this episode we're speaking with historical and descriptive linguist, Associate Professor Sander Adelaar about revitalising dormant languages.Sander, the Siraya people and their language is what we're here to talk about primarily today.  Who are or were the Siraya people?

SANDER ADELAAR
The Siraya people were an ethnic group in Southwest Taiwan who were probably reasonably prominent in the past.  They were in close contact with the first European colonisers in Taiwan who were the Dutch.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Is there anything we know about the Siraya people that make them particularly anthropologically interesting?

SANDER ADELAAR
Yes, there is actually a lot we know about them because the Dutch East India Company kept very meticulous recordings of the people they interacted with.  Also the Dutch missionaries and Southwest Taiwan wrote very detailed ethnographic reports.  Some of the things we know about the Siraya is that they were a matrilineal and also a matrilocal society, matrilineal means that the people would inherit via the women.  Matrilocal means that if people got married that the man would immediately or eventually go and live with the wife and not the other way around.  We know these things about the Siraya.  We also know that when people got married they would at first not live together.  They would only live together after the husband had given up being a warrior.  We also know from these reports that within Siraya society there were female shamans who were rather powerful, who were actually the major power within Siraya society.  These inibs performed for instance something which is a very famous case in ethnological literature, they performed mandatory abortion.  When women would get children the inibs would provoke abortions and they would do so for the period that the man would still be warriors.There is this belief which is not only with the Siraya that the fighting spirit of a warrior is countered by childbirth and childrearing and pregnancies.  These two are contrary forces and in some societies you see that men don’t have sex before a war.  In other societies you see that when a woman is in childbirth the man is not allowed to come close to the woman.  With the Siraya they went several steps further.  They would actually make sure that children were not even born as long as the man was fighting.  That was an idea of the American anthropologist, John Shepherd.  So children were usually born when women were from 36 till 40 years old.  That was the window of opportunity to get children.  That was also the time that the husbands who were probably a few years older would stop being warriors and would become village elders.  

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Sander, it's probably worth giving a potted history of Taiwan from the first western contact.  From the perspective of the indigenous or aboriginal groups as they call themselves of Taiwan, the Spanish and Dutch came along in the early to mid seventeenth century with trading settlements, followed by large numbers of people from Mainland China, primarily males coming across from what is now the province of Fujian onto the west coast of Taiwan and the coastal plains.  The Japanese were there from 1895 to the end of World War II and then of course more recently the Nationalist Chinese came over in 1949 on the run from the communist takeover of the mainland.  What has this all meant for the Siraya people and other aboriginal groups on Taiwan?

SANDER ADELAAR
Well, what it means for the original population of Taiwan is that they received overlordship from all kinds of people that were alien to them, first the Europeans, then the Chinese, then the Japanese and then the Kuomintang Chinese again basically.  So they became marginalised already at the time of the Europeans and that has never stopped – that process. 

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
In terms of the language there were recordings of course made of Siraya and other aboriginal languages.  You mentioned the Dutch East India Company and the missionaries that came along.  Now, the missionaries were there of course to preach religion and to teach biblical text, but of course the Siraya at that stage had no written language.

SANDER ADELAAR
Yes, the Dutch Protestant Mission brought religion in a packaged deal with education and medicare and the mission also brought new agricultural technology to the area.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Dutch of course is romanised spelling and they brought that romanised spelling to I suppose the sounds of Siraya and so the first written language in Taiwan is a romanised version, correct? 

SANDER ADELAAR
That's right.  It's inherent at least to the Calvinist type religion that the Dutch had that people should not only be a member of a congregation, but should also understand their religion and critically read the texts that they have. So Dutch missionaries always made a point of teaching the scripts and reading to the people that they converted.  That had the effect that the Siraya learnt to read and write and after the Dutch left and the Chinese took over that they had a script and were able to write their language for quite awhile after.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
So you as a linguist when you are piecing together the Siraya language you have resources from these colonial times.  Can you tell us a bit about that?

SANDER ADELAAR
Yeah, there must have been a lot of activity 400 years ago, but what we have today is basically a catechism in one dialect of Siraya and the Gospel of Matthew in the same dialect.  And then we have in another dialect a word list of some 400 words.  That is what is left from all those activities of seventeenth century European missionaries.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Didn’t the Chinese also then impose their own character sets on Siraya language?

SANDER ADELAAR
No, that didn’t really happen.  When the Chinese came they needed land and they would buy land or take land in the area.  The Siraya people soon found out that the written word was very strong and that you needed contracts with the Chinese in order to know for sure what you were selling and buying.  So land contracts were drawn up between Chinese and Siraya which were bilingual.   You’ve got Chinese characters on one side and then on the other side you have the Siraya version of that in the old Dutch orthography so to speak, the Latin romanised orthography used by the Dutch.In this way the Siraya were better prepared to defend themselves against the incoming people in Taiwan than for instance the Aboriginals were in Australia.  They didn’t have written contracts to make sure that they were still in control of their land.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Now, at the time of the Japanese annexation of Taiwan, wasn’t there some Japanese linguistic interest also in these indigenous languages?

SANDER ADELAAR
Yes, the Japanese actually did quite a bit of ethnographic study in Taiwan.  They also collected word lists of many areas where they were.  So for instance we have word lists from many different areas in what used to be the Siraya speaking part of Taiwan.  These word lists are not really that easy to use.  They are actually very, very difficult to use because they are written in romanised script, but the writing was done by Japanese who had a hard time writing down what they heard and who were not writing it down in their own script.  So basically the Japanese word lists are not helpful to the same extent as the old Dutch material

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
So this old material, the Gospel of Matthew and some catechisms from that period of the Dutch, these land transfer contracts when the Fujianese started to come in some numbers and the Japanese word lists, those were the scant sources you’ve got to piece together a language, correct?

SANDER ADELAAR
Well, it's more like this.  The language must have evolved very fast with all these foreigners coming and influencing the language.  You get different standards, different styles.  So what the Chinese did was legal language used in land contracts.  You don’t have full sentences.  You have enumerations of descriptions of a piece of land and what's on it.  That sort of vocab is very different from the biblical full sentences that the Dutch collected in their endeavour to translate the Gospel of Matthew and the catechism into Siraya.  It's also very different from what the Japanese did and then there's the time difference.  The Dutch worked in the seventeenth century.  The Chinese worked after that until the nineteenth century and then the Japanese definitely worked at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century.  The language had undergone so much influence and so much erosion by the time the Japanese did their linguistic work that it's very hard to connect the Japanese material to the Dutch and to use it as mutually reinforcing.  That is almost impossible.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
So what is stopping you from tearing your hair out as a linguist?

SANDER ADELAAR
Well, what I did is actually use the Dutch material and concentrate on that and use that as a corpus.  A corpus means a closed collection of data.  Only much later on when I had a good grasp of the seventeenth century Dutch missionary material I tried to link it up with the Japanese material and the linguistic data from the land contracts.  As it turned out it was easier to make a link between the Japanese data which were all words in isolation and the Dutch material than to use any of these two sources in relation to the bilingual land contracts drawn up by Chinese and Siraya.  These land contracts are so legalistic that you can hardly use that for more general purposes.   

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
So what caused the eventual extinction if I may use that term of Siraya?

SANDER ADELAAR
That is a very good question because Siraya must have been a relatively powerful language in an area that was totally divided between different tribes all having their own language.  So Siraya was just another Formosan language as we call them, a native language of Taiwan, but it originally must have had some clout in south-west Taiwan.  Now, the thing is the Siraya live in a hilly part of the country where there is a lot of agriculture and where there's access to the sea and where there are big cities.  Many of the other Taiwanese native groups live in the mountains and on the east coast which is very hard to access.  The people living in the south western plains were living together with [the] Chinese and all the Chinese who came to Taiwan kept to the west coast.  So big cities and villages developed and the Siraya were in direct contact with the Chinese wherever they went.  Under those circumstances, the prestige language which was Fujian Chinese is very likely to replace the language of the minority and that has happened with Siraya.Whereas the much smaller groups that lived in the mountains and on the east coast of Taiwan they kept their language and they were able to carry on their traditions much better than the people living on the western plains where urbanisation was the biggest threat basically.  

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
The benefits of isolation.

SANDER ADELAAR
That's right, yes.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
This is Up Close.  We are joined this episode by historical linguist, Doctor Sander Adelaar to discuss revitalising dormant languages and the particular case of Siraya and indigenous language from Taiwan.  I'm Eric van Bemmel.Now, Sander, in modern day Taiwan there are efforts of which you are a part to revitalise Siraya, to bring it back so to speak.  There are a number of components to this process.  What is the linguist's role of someone like yourself in helping to bring this about?

SANDER ADELAAR
Well, at one point the local Siraya people who were about to dissipate into the larger Chinese community not too long ago, less than two decades ago, they started to realise they actually had their own culture and that they once had their own language and that they were not just second class members of the larger Chinese community.  They contacted me and wanted to work together with me on the revitalisation of their language.Now, as a linguist I'm interested academically in Siraya.  They are interested in the revitalisation of their ancestral language.  However, I don’t want to push this project, but if I'm being asked to help, I'm certainly going to do so.  So the whole idea of revitalising Siraya came from the people themselves and I think that's the way it should be.  Linguists shouldn’t go around [and] revitalise languages unless they are being asked to help in the process of revitalisation when they happen to work on that language because there should be some return to the community. 

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Sander, there was a grammar in Siraya that you were able to piece together and there was obviously vocabulary that was extant, but there was also vocabulary for things that perhaps didn’t exist in the seventeenth century or only exist now.  What do you do about those words that weren't there?  Also, what do you do about the sounds of the language?  How can we be sure that that's coming across, the community is actually getting a reliable product so to speak?

SANDER ADELAAR
First let's talk about the sounds of Siraya.  Well, Siraya is a written language so there are no sounds basically, but sometimes you see that there are several ways of writing a certain word and you can see that the missionaries in the seventeenth century were trying to render a sound and that they were unsure of how to write it down.  So they came up with a bit of spelling variety.  Through the spelling variety you can glean what the original sound must have been.  That is one thing.  You can't go very far, but by looking at the nearby languages that are still spoken and by looking the spelling variety you can figure out what some of the sounds must have sounded like.  As far as the words are concerned, languages evolve and get new words all the time and Siraya didn’t do that because it stopped being used at the end of the nineteenth century.  So nowadays there are so many new things, terms for cars and computers and internet and all that, all these words have to be reinvented and Siraya has to do that as well.  

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
How much of this comes from the linguist?  How much from the community itself?

SANDER ADELAAR
I mean this all comes from a few language activists that are working in the Siraya community.  They use compounds.  They use different Siraya words to express something new.  They also use Chinese loan words.  They use in some cases loan words from certain Filipino languages in order to fill the gaps that they come across.  This sounds a bit like patchwork, but actually all languages that are being revitalised and even languages that exist but have been made into national languages or standard languages, all the languages that undergo that process also undergo the process of relexification.  Indonesian for instance has made an awful lot of words in order to become a national language.  It has also borrowed many words now from English, but in the past also a lot from neologisms, new terms on the basis of revamped Sanskrit and Arabic words.  These words have been used in order to create the modern Indonesian language.  There were of course also many loan words from Dutch and Portuguese, but particularly the Dutch words were thrown out.This making of a language is always going on.  We know the case of Hebrew.  Hebrew is the textbook case of a dormant language which became a living language again.  Make no mistake Hebrew has borrowed from many languages and has adapted quite a bit of its original words and also of its grammar to modern needs.    

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Getting back to Siraya, Sander, how does the Taiwanese government view the language?  Do they officially recognise it?

SANDER ADELAAR
Well, there's a history to that of course.  In the past these languages were not taken seriously enough.  The Chinese, Japanese governments that have been there in the past didn’t do much to keep these languages alive or to standardise them in any way.  It's a bit [of] the same story as with Native American languages in America and Aboriginal languages in Australia, but in the last two decades that has changed under the influence of modern ideas about how to treat minorities, the Taiwanese have adapted quite a bit and have given much more attention to these languages and cultures.Apart from that there is also a political agenda here.  Taiwan has claimed by the People's Republic as one of their provinces.  Many Taiwanese don’t like that and want Taiwan to remain independent.  The aboriginal case has actually been annexed, has been used by the Nationalists to tell first we are different.  This island has a different history.  Second, we all have aboriginal blood in our veins because the first Chinese came without their wives so they intermarried.  The original Chinese community since the seventeenth century living in Taiwan can be said to be of mixed blood, so DNA-wise they belong to the island and are slightly different from their brothers on the mainland.  In this way, the case of the original ethnic groups in Taiwan has been capitalised by the Nationalists.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
I understand also that those who would favour the People's Republic side of the political question point to recent archaeological evidence that Austronesians likely originally came from the southern Chinese mainland.    

SANDER ADELAAR
Yes, but everyone has a go at archaeology and prehistory.  They all pick and choose arguments in order to reinforce their case.  The Nationalists and the People's Republic say that Taiwan and China once were connected that these was no sea strait between the two countries.  Well, that may be true.  We are talking about 40,000, 50,000 years ago or maybe even longer, whereas the history of the Austronesians in Taiwan doesn’t go further than 6000 years.It is true that the Austronesian population of Taiwan and of the whole world actually came from Mainland China.  So the Austronesians moved out of Mainland China in all probability, went to Taiwan and from there on spread all over the Austronesian world.  So from that perspective the Austronesian speaking people, well their languages at least come from China, but that doesn’t allow you to milk the story for nationalist purposes because at the time that the Austronesian speakers left China to go to Taiwan, the Chinese themselves hadn’t yet come to southern China.  Southern China wasn’t Chinese yet at that time.  So basically you can't use pre-historical arguments for nationalist purposes.  It gives ridiculous effects if you think about it.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Coming back to the modern day are there individual Taiwanese who have come to reconnect or discover their Siraya roots from these language efforts?

SANDER ADELAAR
Yes, now there is a revival going on people are getting proud again of who they originally were.  The Siraya lost their language and much of their culture, but among the people who were born and raised as Chinese in south-west Taiwan, there are quite a number who actually are thinking about who they are and they are realising in some cases that they are actually Siraya as much as they are Chinese or maybe even more.  People remember their grandparents doing certain things that they didn’t understand.  They remember certain references, certain practices.  They remember certain words.  They remember certain religious beliefs that were lingering on in the family and even certain acts of worship.  And among the people who remember these things there are quite a number who literally come out as Siraya.  They realise that they are actually part Siraya or maybe totally Siraya and they are getting proud of it again.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Sander, as a final question, looking at Siraya the language today what is its prognosis?

SANDER ADELAAR
I don’t know.  That depends very much on the community.  About 10 or 15 years ago some Siraya people started to revitalise the language.  They were laughed at.  They were met with many angry reactions.  Linguists in Taiwan told them that they didn’t stand a chance and that it was a silly idea to revitalise a dead language as they said; dormant language as we say now.The thing is that if you look at what has happened since, the theatre plays that have been created and enacted, the language courses that have been developed, many primary schools in Southwest Taiwan are now teaching Siraya and that there are course books in the language.  Things have changed so much.  People who first were rather sceptical have now become devout language learners and are greeting each other in Siraya, singing songs in Siraya.  Things have gone very fast.  So we shouldn’t laugh at this revitalisation process.  It is real. And the community is the driver and has to be the driver.  As far as the Siraya community is concerned they are doing very well. 

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
Sander, we'll have to leave it there.  Thanks very much for joining us on Up Close.

SANDER ADELAAR
Thank you very much for the opportunity.

ERIC VAN BEMMEL
That was Sander Adelaar, historical and descriptive linguist and author of Siraya: Retrieving the Phonology, Grammar and Lexicon of a Dormant Formosan Language.  Doctor Adelaar is fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences or NIAS and honorary principal fellow at Asia Institute here at the University of Melbourne.   You can find relevant links and a full transcript of this episode on our website.Up Close is a production of the University of Melbourne Australia.  This episode was recorded on 8 January 2014 and produced by Kelvin Param and me, Eric van Bemmel.  Audio engineering by Jeremy Taylor.  Up Close is created by me and Kelvin Param.  Thanks for joining us, until next time, goodbye.

VOICE OVER
You have been listening to Up Close.  We are also on Twitter and Facebook.  For more info, visit upclose.unimelb.edu.au.  Copyright 2014.  The University of Melbourne.


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