The study of linguistics in Taiwan started during the Japanese occupation. Japanese researchers Ogawa Naoyoshi, Asai Erin, and JInō Kanori researched the languages of the aboriginal peoples of Taiwan. With the defeat of the Japanese and the arrival of the government of the Republic of China came Tong-He Tong, Fa-GaoZhou, Yu-Keng Lin and other scholars of linguistics and language learning, marking the beginning of a new era in Taiwanese linguistics. Although the linguistic research conducted by the Japanese scholars working in Taiwan had been abruptly cut off by the end of the war, under the leadership of the scholars who arrived in Taiwan with the new government, linguistic scholars working in Taiwan as well as linguistic scholars of Taiwanese origin, such as Pang-hsin Ting, Mei Kuang, Tsai-fa Cheng, Chin-Chuan Cheng, Hwang-Cherng Gong, Ting-Chi Tang, Jen-Kuei Li, Liang-Wei Cheng, Shou-Hsin Teng, Ying-Che Li, Shuan-Fan Huang, Heng-syung Jeng, James H.-Y. Tai, Feng-Fu Tsao, Dah-an Ho, C.-T. James Huang, and Yen-hui Audrey Li, achieved renown in both the national and international worlds of linguistics research. Because of the diligence of these early scholars, in recent years linguistic research in Taiwan has become more wide-ranging and its results have become more widely respected internationally. At the same time, scholars in Taiwan felt the need to organize themselves into an association. Although a "Taiwan Language Society" already existed, the main purpose of this organization was to promote the languages of the island. Since this society was not entirely devoted to linguistic research, it was felt that a Taiwan linguistics research society needed to be established.
On January 18, 1997, Taiwan University Professor Shuan-Fan Huang invited scholars of linguistics from throughout the nation to the Taiwan University Linguistics Department for the first preparatory meeting for the establishment of the society. This first meeting was attended by 23 people. At the meeting, it was decided that the Chinese name for the new organization would be Taiwan Yuyanxue Xuehui, and the English name would be the Linguistic Society of Taiwan. In addition, 12 members (here listed in order of the number of strokes in their last names) were chosen as members of the constitution drafting committee: H. Samuel Wang, Wen-yuChiang, Jen-Kuei Li, Rong-Song Yaou, Yuen-Mei Yin, Su-chiao Chen, Shoou-Der Tseng, Tzyh-lai Huang, Shuan-Fan Huang, Chung-Szu Tung, Chiu-Yu Tseng, and Raung-Fu Chung. Professor Shuan-Fan Huang served as chairperson of the meeting.
During 1997, the constitution drafting committee met 6 times and completed their work of drafting the constitution. On May 23, 1998, a meeting was held to establish the society. The constitution was revised and passed, and the officers of the society were chosen. Fifteen were chosen as council members and five were chosen as supervisors. Of these members, five were designated as acting council members and one was designated as acting supervisor (Heng-Xiong Zhen). According to the constitution, the council elects one president and one vice-president from among the acting council members. However, acting council members Jen-Kuei Li and Shuan-Fan Huang went through the election process twice. At the end of the last vote, the results showed that each still had an equal number of votes. Finally, a fourth vote was held. Using the venue of the July 14, 1998 Sixth Annual International Conference on the Languages and Linguistics of China which was held at Academia Sinica, council members and supervisors met before the start of the conference todiscuss the election problem and hold a fourth vote. Professor Jen-Kuei Li was elected president and Professor Shuan-Fan Huang was elected vice-president. After the meeting, Society President Li asked Council Member H. Samuel Wang to serve as secretary-general. After being approved by the council, he took up his post, and the Linguistic Society of Taiwan formally commenced its work.
Before the establishment of the society, the constitutional committee had begun discussing the possibility of seeking government recognition. At that time, the government did not permit national organizations to use the word "Taiwan" in their names. For this reason, there was a delay in submitting the registration application. It was not until 1999, when the government lifted this restriction, that the council definitively decided to submit a registration application to the Ministry of the Interior. Permission for formal establishment of the society was given on June12, 1999. Because of this, the conference originally scheduled for June 19 became an occasion for launching the society. At the conference, the original 15 council members and the five supervisors were elected as preparatory committee members. Professor Jen-Kuei Li, who had originally served as president of the society, was chosen as the preparatory committee chairman. At the first committee meeting following the conference, the draft of the constitution was again revised and passed.
The society was formally established at the Po Ai Building of National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei on November 27, 1999, with the chairman of the preparatory committee, Professor Jen-Kuei Li presiding as president. At the inaugural meeting, the constitution was reviewed and passed and the first councilmembers and supervisors were elected. Professor Hsuan-Fan Huang was chosen as president, Professor Jen-Kuei Li was chosen as vice-president, and ProfessorHuang, Lillian M.was invited by the president to serve as secretary-general. Following approval by the council, Professor Huang took up her post. It was in this way that the society was formally established. On December 10, 1999, the preparatory committee turned the operation of the society over to the first duly elected council and supervisors, and the society began its formal activity.