V.Interview: Siraya Green Valley | Yi-chia Wang |Jun-ming Wang

Interview in Siraya Green Valley

Time: November, 8th, 2003
Place: Siraya Green Valley
Interviewer (s): 9 students and 3 teachers

Interviewee (s): Cheng-hsiung Wan, Shu-chuan Wan and Tsui-li Chou

Language Revival

Q1: In recent years, what have you done to revive the Siraya language?
A1: We've held activities in many different places. And we've used music and dancing to make everyone know the Pepo Tribe exists in Siraya, to introduce its culture to the world.
Words from us: If you know the existence of Siraya culture, please help us promote it!

Q2: Who helps to revive the Siraya language?
A2: We have people in the Siraya Culture Association, people who are interested in the Siraya language, Dutch linguists, Mr. Yi-chia Wan, Miss Shu-chuan Wang, Mr. Cheng-hsiung Wan, Miss Shu-feng Li, and Professor Chia-yin Weng. We once got some materials from a Dutch professor on the Internet.

Q3: What's the basis for language revival?
A3: We made use of some remaining data to retrieve the missing parts of Siraya language. Around 1624, the Dutch missionaries came to Taiwan. At that time, the Siraya language was only a spoken language without any written words. Therefore, the Dutch missionaries recorded what they had heard in Romanization. About 150 years later, most parts of Siraya had gone through sinicization, but a small number of Siraya people still used Romanization. Today, most of the written data about Siraya are gone. But we have a "Colletion Hsinkang Documents" which records the Siraya language.

Q4: Can you tell us what kinds of data you have with regard to language revival?
A4: For example, a pig is "ma-u", and "hello" is "a-li-li."

Words from us:
*Siraya language is similar to the language of Philippines' largest ethnic groups, "Bisaya." It's possible that Siraya people are the ancestors of "Bisayas." It is still under study.
*Sin-hua is where the pepo tribe lived. It was called "Da-Mu-Chiang," which means "the land of mountains and forests" in the Siraya language.
*In former times, the Siraya language was a language without written words. To make people learn the Siraya language faster, we sing songs to help people understand Siraya language better.

Activities over the Years

Q1: What kinds of activities do you have?
A1: We have instrumental performances, dancing performances, plays, etc.
Q2: When do you hold your activities?
A2: Mostly during winter and summer vacation when our members are available.
Q3: Where do you hold your activities?
A3: In junior high schools, elementary schools and churches around Tainan County for the most part. Sometimes local governments may invite us to perform there.
Q4: What's the purpose of these activities?
A4: The purpose is to make Siraya known to everyone and to introduce the language, music and culture of Siraya to the world.
Words from us: The Band of Bamboo Music came first in 1998, and then in 1999, the Siraya Cultural Association was born.

See how concentrated we are!

Production of Instruments

Q1: What inspires you to make instruments?
A1: We create our own instruments. Some are inspired by the lifestyle of ancient people. We just use our common knowledge to make them. We make new types of instruments, too. In short, we want to continue Siraya culture.

The Association

Q1: Why do you found this association?
A1: What concerns me is self identity. Siraya was an aboriginal tribe in Taiwan. When Siraya people look back on the past, we kind of think that we don't look exactly like aborigines in mountains, but we don't look like Han people, either. So, we Siraya people want to discover ourselves. The establishment of this association can unite us together to promote some activities. At the same time, we can make our contributions to local ecology.

Q2: Has the association ever considered giving up looking for Siraya culture?
A2: Our association did encounter some difficulties, but we've never thought about giving up.

The Summary Record of Interview