Get access

Language Policy and Group Identification in Taiwan


Ruey-Ying Liu, Department of Psychology, National Taiwan University, Roosevelt Road, Taipei, 10617 Taiwan; e-mail:


Taiwan is a multicultural and multilingual society. Generally speaking, Taiwanese residents fall into one of four ethnic groups. Each ethnic group has a different cultural context and a preferred language. Therefore, one's use of language may reveal his/her identification with an ethnic group, and language policy implementation may imply the power of a certain subculture. Owing to this condition, there have been controversies related to language policy in Taiwanese history. Taiwan has been governed by several regimes, and each regime implemented different language policies. These policies reflected the changes in group identification of Taiwanese people, and also indicated how the government rulers use language policy as a means to shape people's national identity. Even today, several language policy controversies, which imply the conflicts between different ethnic groups in Taiwan, still remain unresolved. In summary, Taiwan can be used as an example to illustrate the relationship between language and identity.