Who is the language policy for? Translation discrepancies and their implications to (dis)trust

  • Chien Ju Ting Auckland University of Technology
  • Wei Teng University of Canterbury
Keywords: Translation studies, Critical discourse studies, Indigenous language revitalisation, Language policy, Taiwan


This paper investigates the impact of language policy translation as a discursive action on historical and political mechanisms of trust within the context of Indigenous language revitalization in Taiwan. Combining a critical discourse studies approach and translation theories, we examine the translation discrepancies between the Chinese source text and the English translation of Tawain’s Indigenous Language Development Act (2017). We focus on the analysis of the interpersonal meanings conveyed by two Chinese modal verbs (ying/應 and de/得), aiming to elucidate how Taiwan’s Government positions itself within both language versions. The findings suggest that the government constructs itself as more actively responsible for the Indigenous language development in the English version. This strategic move reflects the government’s commitment to enhancing Taiwan’s international reputation as the English version is meant for global audiences. Considering language policy is inherently ideological with the government’s political intentions, we discuss the implication of distrust created by the translation discrepancy. This study highlights that language policy translation can be recontextualized to suit a government’s political agendas and ideological appropriations.


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Author Biography

Wei Teng, University of Canterbury

Dr Wei Teng is Indigenous Atayal, Taiwan. His Indigenous name is Yumin Basan. Currently, He works at the University of Canterbury, NZ, specialising in language translation studies. 

How to Cite
Ting, C. J., & Teng, W. (2024). Who is the language policy for? Translation discrepancies and their implications to (dis)trust. Te Kaharoa, 17(1). https://doi.org/10.24135/tekaharoa.v17i1.431