The Linguist

The Linguist 58,2-June/July 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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FEATURES 18 The Linguist Vol/57 No/2 2019 How the International Year of Indigenous Languages was established and what it hopes to achieve. By Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg I ndigenous languages are celebrated globally as repositories of rich cultural heritage because they are imbued with traditions, values and knowledge developed and accumulated over thousands of years. Stakeholders all over the world have emphasised the fact that indigenous languages represent key resources for understanding the environment, science, education and communication systems, and for harnessing their potential to the advantage of local populations, as well as of humanity as a whole. For these reasons, the involved parties strive to raise awareness of the need to preserve indigenous languages and ensure their transmission, encouraging the involvement of all relevant stakeholders. These issues need to be addressed urgently, as the majority of indigenous languages are being used less and less. Many are at risk of disappearing in the near future. Language loss has a devastating impact on the people concerned, as well as on global linguistic diversity. Unique ways of knowing and experiencing the world may be lost forever. Indigenous languages can unlock vital knowledge that could be harnessed for human benefit and sustainable development, from climate change and scientific innovation to social and cultural enrichment. The reasons for language endangerment vary across communities and locations, and include assimilation, educational disadvantage, illiteracy, migration and discrimination. In practical terms, this means that parents and elders may no longer pass on specific terminology and vocabulary to their children, and the language may fall out of daily use. These issues point to a significant pattern of disadvantage affecting indigenous peoples having an impact on a wide range of domains, including political and legal representation; access to employment, medical services, information, communication tools and education; and the environment and biosphere. GLOBAL RESPONSE In order to draw global attention to these critical issues, the United Nations proclaimed 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL), with Unesco as the lead organisation, following a recommendation from the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. For the UN, the proclamation of an international year is considered to UNITED VOICES The launch of the International Year of Indigenous Languages at Unesco's Paris headquarters (above) SAVING TONGUES

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