January 2nd, 2019Posted By Naomi Weeks

2019: International Year of Indigenous Languages

Whatever 2019 may hold for each of us, the start is looking good for us language lovers! This year has been declared by UNESCO to be the International Year of Indigenous Languages, in the hope that by promoting and celebrating the continued use of endangered languages, we can help them to survive.

The disappearance of indigenous languages around the world has been a growing concern for some time. According to the Rosetta Project, one language fades into nonexistence every three months, however UNESCO has actually suggested this period is more like two weeks. There are currently 2680 languages in danger in the world today. 
With this in mind, UNESCO’s decision to make 2019 the International Year of Indigenous Languages, with the argument that these languages are 'pivotal for human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development', is a welcomed and much necessary action. 

‘It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights...Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression.’ - UNESCO

With a host of events planned for the year, IYIL’s main objectives are to: 

Focus global attention on
  • the critical risks confronting indigenous languages
  • their significance for sustainable development, reconciliation, good governance and peacebuilding

Target steps that will
  • improve quality of life
  • enhance international cooperation
  • strengthen intercultural dialogue 
  • reaffirm cultural and linguistic continuity

Increase the capacity
  • of all stakeholders to take measures that will support, access and promote indigenous languages in accordance with the legitimate rights of the people who speak them

You can learn more and find out how to get involved with IYIL2019 here. 

NB: Sources taken from the official IYIL website and  this article in Geographical- an interesting piece on the extinction of languages.

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