An interview with Professor Clyde Kiang. by Kok-ui Lim.
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* Subject: Hakkas in Taiwan An interview with Professor Clyde Kiang. by Kok-ui Lim.
* From: Clem Lee
* Date: Tue, 17 Feb 1998 16:18:32 -0800
* Organization: Concord Fabrics, Inc.
Came across the following while net-browsing:
>>>>>>>>>>>>Hakkas in Taiwan An interview with Professor Clyde Kiang by Kok-ui Lim
ed. note: This is the fifth in a series of articles on Taiwan's culture and identity.
The traditions which define the 21 million Taiwanese people today embrace the collective
history and experience of a rich diversity of peoples who together have shaped and
defined the customs of the island.
Clyde Kiang is the author of The Hakka Search For A Homeland (English), The Hakka
Odyssey & Their Taiwan Homeland (English), and Hakka yi Taiwan (Chinese). A native of
Taiwan, Dr. Kiang writes and speaks fluently Mandarin Chinese, Japanese and English as
well as his native Hakka. He is a professor of library science at the California
University of Pennsylvania.
TIR: Can you tell us where the word "Hakka" comes from?
Kiang: The word Hakka is a Cantonese pronunciation of the Chinese term "keh-chia"
meaning "guest families", "strangers", or "foreigners". The term "keh-chia" has been in
use since 780 A.D. when it appears in the Tang census and chronicles. In fact, when
Hakka ancestors migrated from northern China to settle in new lands south of the Yangtse
River, the native people of the south began calling them Hakka. It is interesting to
know that the Hakka people eventually adopted the
term as their ethnic identity.
TIR: Who are the Hakka?
Kiang: Hakka are a distinct member of the Mongoloid race and Han people, with
considerable intermixture of indigenous stocks in the north as well as the south. More
specifically, they are descended from Hsiung Nu (Huns) and Tung-yi (Eastern Barbarians).
After centuries of settlement in China, Hakka have adopted much of Chinese culture.
TIR: What is the history of Hakkas in Taiwan?
Kiang: The earliest record of Hakka people in Taiwan dates back to the invasion of the
island by Chen Leng in 610 A.D. As a pirate, Chen brought his soldiers and explorers
from Kwangtung (Canton). In the 16th century, more Hakka pirates followed. During this
period, Hakka wood cutters and animal hunters penetrated into Taiwan's foothills. When
Koxinga established his kingdom on the island, his commander-in-chief Liu Kuo-suan was a
Hakka and without a doubt there were a large number of Hakka soldiers in Koxinga's army.
TIR: How many Hakkas still live in Taiwan? Are Hakkas prominent in Taiwan society today?
Kiang: Presently there are about five million Hakkas on Taiwan which represents about
25% of the population. Among the prominent Hakkas are President Lee Teng-hui, KMT
Secretary General Wu Po-hsiung, DPP Chairman Hsu Hsin-liang, and many more.
TIR: How closely related is the Hakka language to Cantonese, Mandarin, and Taiwanese?
Kiang: Strictly speaking, the Hakka language is not related to Cantonese, Mandarin
Chinese, or Taiwanese. Hakka is of Altaic origin with sinicized adoption of Chinese
characters as the means of written communication. Kevin O'Connor, a linguist, has
written a thesis in which he states that the Hakka language is not descended from
ancient Chinese, but from a pre-Hakka language. Linguists cannot find enough
similarities between Hakka and ancient Chinese to show a relationship. A
variety of Hakka expressions, vocabulary and grammatical struc-tures are
incomprehensible to Chinese speakers and incompatible with Chinese usage.