While browsing in the Southern Materials Center bookshop near the National Taiwan University campus the other day, I found an interesting textbook that has probably been sat on the same shelf for a good few years. The first thing that caught my eye was the Chinese title “中國 閩南語對話”; word-for-word “China Southern Min Dialogues”. The English title hammers home the same message; “Chinese Dialogues in the Amoy Vernacular”; despite the big image of Taiwan, the implication is clear that we are talking about Chinese (linguistically and politically).
In the front of the book is the ROC national anthem in Chinese characters, Peh-oe-ji romanized Taiwanese and Mandarin romanized according to the Yale system. Also at the beginning of the book are short biographies of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, who at the time of printing was the president (which, along with photos throughout the book, helps place the release date in the late 60s or early 70s). The biographies were required material for the book to pass official muster at the time, and naturally present a very uncritical aspect of the then president:
Tiong-hôa Bîn-kok Chóng-thóng, Chiúⁿ-tiong-chèng, jī Kài-se̍k (1887, 10, 31 – ) sī chòe úi-tāi ê hóan-kiōng léng-siū ê chi̍t ê. Kok-hū kòe-sin liáu-āu, léng-tō kek-bēng, cho͘-chit Kok-bîn Chèng-hú, thóng-it chôan-kok, chhui-hêng Sam-bîn-chú-gī, iōng Ki-tok ê cheng-sîn ài-hō͘ kok-bîn, Só͘-í kok-bîn lóng chheng-ho͘ i “Lāu-tōa-lâng”.
Republic of China President Chiang Chung-cheng, courtesy name Kai-shek (1887.10.31 – ) is the greatest of anti-communist leaders. After the death of the Father of the Nation [Sun Yat-sen] he has led the revolution, organised the Republican government, united the country [China], upheld the Three Principles of the People [Sun’s political philosophy] and used the spirit of Jesus to love his people, so the people all call him “venerable grandfather”.
The dialogues were produced by a group of western churches for use in educating their missionaries in Taiwan, so prominent mention is made of the Christian faith of both Chiang Kai-shek and Sun Yat-sen. Many of the dialogues too are oriented towards mission work, with discussions of the nature of faith and the path to salvation, as well as the more mundane tasks of posting a letter and buying a train ticket. Illustrated with a fair number of black and white photographs, the book provides a fascinating insight in to life in Taiwan in the late 60s.