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Languages of Taiwan

See language map.
Republic of China, Chung-hua Min-kuo. Formerly Formosa. 22,749,838. Population includes 349,120 tribal people, or 2% of the population, Han Chinese 97.8%. National or official language: Mandarin Chinese. Literacy rate: 90% to 92%. Also includes Chinese Sign Language, Halh Mongolian (6,000), Kalmyk-Oirat, Tibetan (2,000), Uyghur, people from the Philippines (50,000). Information mainly from T. Sebeok 1971; S. Tsuchida 1976; S. Wurm and S. Hattori 1981; P. Li 1987; D. T. Tryon 1995. Deaf population: 30,000 to 1,302,969 (1998). Deaf institutions: 8. The number of languages listed for Taiwan is 26. Of those, 22 are living languages and 4 are extinct.

Living languages

Amis

[ami] 137,651 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 137,651. Plains in the valley along the railroad between Hualien and Taitung, and on the east coast near the sea between Hualien and Taitung. Alternate names: Ami, Amia, Pangcah, Pagcah, Pangtsah, Bakurut, Lam-Si-Hoan, Maran, Sabari, Tanah.  Dialects: Central Amis (Haian Ami, Hsiukulan Ami), Tavalong-Vataan (Kwangfu, Kuangfu), Southern Amis (Peinan, Hengch'un Amis, Taitung), Chengkung-Kwangshan, Northern Amis (Nanshi Amis). The Chengkung-Kwangshan dialect is closest to Central Amis.  Classification: Austronesian, East Formosan, Central 
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Amis, Nataoran

[ais] 5 (2000 Wurm). Villages in the Hualien area and north of Fenglin. Alternate names: Nataoran, Natawran, Tauran.  Dialects: Nataoran, Sakizaya (Sakiray, Sakiraya), Kaliyawan (Kaliyuawan), Natawran, Cikosowan, Pokpok, Ridaw. Not generally understood by other Amis. Sakizaya is even more divergent from Central Amis. In recent years the dialects have converged. Lexical similarity 50% with Central Amis.  Classification: Austronesian, East Formosan, Central  Nearly extinct.
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Atayal

[tay] 84,330 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 78,957 (1989 govt. figure), including 50 Mayrinax speakers left (2000 L.M. Huang). Mountains in the northeast, south of the Ketagalan area. Alternate names: Tayal, Tyal, Taiyal, Ataiyal, Attayal, Taijyal, Bonotsek, Shabogala, Takonan, Tangao, Yukan.  Dialects: Sqoleq (Squliq), Ts'ole' (Ci'uli'). Mayrinax is a Ci'uli' subdialect.  Classification: Austronesian, Atayalic 
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Babuza

[bzg] 3 to 4 (2000 S. Wurm). West central coast and inland, Tatu and Choshui rivers and beyond, around 24 degrees north. Alternate names: Babusa, Favorlang, Favorlangsch, Jaborlang, Poavosa.  Dialects: Poavosa, Taokas. Taokas dialect is extinct.  Classification: Austronesian, Western Plains, Central Western Plains  Nearly extinct.
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Bunun

[bnn] 37,989 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 37,989. East central plain, south of the Sediq (Taroko). Alternate names: Bunti, Vonun, Bunan, Bubukun, Vunum, Vunun, Vunung, Bunum.  Dialects: Randai, Tondai, Shibukun (Sibukun, Sibukaun, Sibucoon, Sivukun), North Bunun (Takitudu, Taketodo, Takebakha, Takibakha), Central Bunun (Takbanuao, Takivatan, Takevatan), South Bunun (Ishbukun), Takopulan.  Classification: Austronesian, Bunun 
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Chinese, Hakka

[hak] 2,366,000 in Taiwan (1993). Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Pingtung counties. Shi Xien is in northern and southern Taiwan, Hi-Lu is central and north central. Dialects: Hailu (Hoiluk, Hoilluk, Hi-Lu), Sanhsien (Shigen, Shixien, Shi Xien).  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Chinese 
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Chinese, Mandarin

[cmn] 4,323,000 in Taiwan (1993). Mainly in Taipei and 5 provincial cities. Alternate names: Kuoyu, Mandarin, Putonghua, Guoyu.  Dialects: Taibei Mandarin.  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Chinese 
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Chinese, Min Nan

[nan] 15,000,000 in Taiwan (1997 A. Chang). Tainan, Penghu Archipelago, cities on the east coast, western plain except for a few Hakka pockets. Alternate names: Min Nan, Minnan.  Dialects: Amoy (Taiwanese, Formosan).  Classification: Sino-Tibetan, Chinese 
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Japanese

[jpn]   Classification: Japanese 
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Kanakanabu

[xnb] 6 to 8 (2000 Wurm). Ethnic population: 250 (UNESCO). Central Taiwan around Minchuan village, Sanmin Township, Kaohsiung County. Alternate names: Kanabu, Kanakanavu.  Classification: Austronesian, Tsouic  Nearly extinct.
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Kavalan

[ckv] 24 (2000 Li). Northeast coast, above Toucheng to Ilan, nearly to Suao, and inland to Tayal language area. No longer spoken in the original area; a few migrants to the east coast, Hsishe village, Fengpin Township, Hualien County (1990). Alternate names: Kuwarawan, Kiwarawa, Kuvarawan, Kibalan, Kiwaraw, Kuvalan, Kavarauan, Kvalan, Shekwan, Cabaran, Kabalan, Kabaran, Kamalan, Kavanan, Kbalan.  Dialects: Kareovan (Kareowan).  Classification: Austronesian, East Formosan, Northern  Nearly extinct.
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Kulon-Pazeh

[uun] 1 (2000 Paul Jen-Kuei Li). Near the west coast just north of 24 degrees north, east of Tayal, around Cholan, Houli, Fengyuan, Tantzu, Taichung, Tungshih. Alternate names: Kulun.  Classification: Austronesian, Formosan, Paiwanic  Nearly extinct.
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Paiwan

[pwn] 66,084 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 66,084. Southern, southeastern mountains. Alternate names: Paiuan, Payowan, Li-Li-Sha, Samobi, Samohai, Saprek, Tamari, Kadas, Kale-Whan, Kapiangan, Katausan, Butanglu, Stimul.  Classification: Austronesian, Paiwan 
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Puyuma

[pyu] 8,487 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 8,487. Along the east coast south of Taitung and inland. Alternate names: Pyuma, Pilam, Pelam, Piyuma, Panapanayan, Kadas, Tipun.  Dialects: Nanwang, Pinan.  Classification: Austronesian, Puyuma 
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Rukai

[dru] 10,543 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 10,543. South central mountains, west of the Pyuma, 11 villages around Ping Tung, and 2 or 3 villages near Taitung. Alternate names: Drukay, Drukai, Dyokay, Dukai, Rutkai, Tsarisen, Tsalisen, Sarisen, Banga, Bantalang, Bantaurang, Taloma, Kadas.  Dialects: Budai, Labuan, Tanan, Maga, Tona, Mantauran. The Mantauran, Tona and Maga dialects are divergent.  Classification: Austronesian, Rukai 
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Saaroa

[sxr] 5 to 6 (2000 Wurm). Ethnic population: 300 (2000 UNESCO Red Book). West central mountains, south and southeast of Minchuan, along the Laonung River. Alternate names: Saroa, Saarua, Rarua, La'alua, La'arua, Pachien, Paichien, Sisyaban, Shishaban.  Dialects: Close to Kanakanabu.  Classification: Austronesian, Tsouic  Nearly extinct.
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Saisiyat

[xsy] 4,750 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Western mountains, west of the Atayal, Nanchuang Township, Miaoli County and Wufong Township, Hsinchu County. Alternate names: Saiset, Seisirat, Saisett, Saisiat, Saisiett, Saisirat, Saisyet, Saisyett, Amutoura, Bouiok.  Dialects: Taai (North Saiset), Tungho (South Saiset). The dialect differences are mainly phonological and lexical (Li 1978).  Classification: Austronesian, Northwest Formosan 
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Taiwan Sign Language

[tss] 82,558 (2001).  Alternate names: Taiwan Ziran Shouyu.  Dialects: Taipei, Tainan, Kaohsiung. 2 major dialects. The sources from which the sign language developed were indigenous sign systems before 1895, Japanese occupation and education 1895–1946, Mainland Chinese Sign Language brought by refugees in 1949 and some from Hongkong since. Lexical similarity 50% with Japanese Sign Language.  Classification: Deaf sign language 
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Taroko

[trv] 4,750 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 4,750. Central, eastern, and coastal; northern mountains in the Puli area and along the coast south of Hualien, south of the Atayal. Alternate names: Sediq, Saediq, Seedik, Sejiq, Sedeq, Seedek, Seedeq, Shedekka, Sedek, Sediakk, Sedik, Sazek, Bu-Hwan, Che-Hwan, Daiya-Ataiyal, Hogo, Iboho, Paran, Taruku, Toroko, Truku, Toda.  Dialects: Teruku (Truku), Te'uda (Tuuda), Tekedaya (Tkdaya, Paran). Dialects differ mainly in phonology and lexicon, and some in grammar.  Classification: Austronesian, Atayalic 
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Thao

[ssf] 5 to 6 (2000 Wurm). Ethnic population: 248 (1989). Central, southeastern shore of Sun Moon Lake, Te-hua village, and Ta-p'ing-lin 14 km away. Alternate names: Sau, Sao, Shao, Chuihwan, Chui-Huan, Suihwan, Vulung.  Dialects: Brawbaw, Shtafari.  Classification: Austronesian, Western Plains, Thao  Nearly extinct.
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Tsou

[tsu] 2,127 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 2,127. West central mountains southeast of Chiayi around Alishan (Mt. Ali). Alternate names: Tsu-U, Tsoo, Tsuou, Tsu-Wo, Tzo, Tso, Namakaban, Niitaka, Tibola, Tibolah, Tibolak, Tibolal.  Dialects: Duhtu, Luhtu, Tapangu, Tfuea, Iimutsu.  Classification: Austronesian, Tsouic 
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Yami

[tao] 3,384 (2002 Council of Indigenous Peoples, Executive Yuan, ROC). Ethnic population: 3,384. Orchid Island, Botel Tobago (Lanyu) Island, southeast coast. Alternate names: Tao, Tawu, Botel Tabago, Botel Tobago, Lanyu.  Dialects: Close to Ivatan of northern Philippines.  Classification: Austronesian, Malayo-Polynesian, Northern Philippine, Bashiic-Central Luzon-Northern Mindoro, Bashiic, Yami 
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Extinct languages

Basay

[byq] Extinct. North around Tam Shui to near Kungliao, Fengtzulin, Taipei, Sangchung, and northeast around Suao and east of Ilan. Alternate names: Kawanuwan, Basai.  Dialects: Trobiawan, Linaw-Qauqaul.  Classification: Austronesian, East Formosan, Northern 
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Ketangalan

[kae] Extinct. North central, around Panchiao and to the northwest, west, and southeast. Alternate names: Ketagalan, Tangalan.  Classification: Austronesian, Unclassified 
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Papora-Hoanya

[ppu] Extinct. North central coast around Lishui, Chingshui, Shalu, and inland to Taichung. Alternate names: Bupuran, Hinapavosa, Vupuran, Papola.  Dialects: Papora, Hoanya.  Classification: Austronesian, Formosan, Paiwanic 
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Siraya

[fos] Extinct. Southwestern, around present-day Tainan, from Peimen to Hengchun to Tapu. Alternate names: Formosan, Siraia, Siraiya, Sideia, Sideis, Sideisch, Baksa, Pepohoan, Pepo-Hwan.  Dialects: Siraya, Makatao (Makattao, Takaraya, Tta'o), Pangsoia-Dolatok, Taivoan (Tevorang), Lamai.  Classification: Austronesian, East Formosan, Southwest 
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