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Indigenous Languages

Indigenous Languages: The UN’s Attempt at Saving Them

The United Nations declared 2019 The Year of Indigenous Languages. The reason for it is to raise awareness about the important contribution they make to cultural diversity. Languages are dying and we should try to save them!

Main Facts about Indigenous Languages

The UN have described their initiative in detail here, but we thought we’d sum it up for you. So, this is what you need to know about indigenous languages:

  • There are 370 million indigenous people in the world.
  • Moreover, 90 countries of the world are home to indigenous communities.
  • Also, there are 5 thousand different indigenous cultures.
  • For that reason, the UN are trying to create favourable conditions for knowledge-sharing with regards to indigenous tongues.
  • For that reason too, we need to focus global attention on the critical risks confronting indigenous languages.
  • The Official Global Launch Event of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages will take place on 28 January. Read more here.
  • There are ways for you to help out. Read more here.

In an article by the New York Times, John Noble Wilford writes that while some languages disappear gradually, others vanish in an instant. In bilingual cultures, indigenous tongues are overwhelmed by the dominant language in most social situations. Moreover, because most of these tongues have no written form, they are vulnerable to being forgotten.

Food for Thought

Of the almost 7,000 existing languages, the majority are the creation of indigenous peoples. Moreover, these peoples represent the greater part of the world’s cultural diversity. Yet many of these languages are disappearing at an alarming rate. The reason? The communities speaking them face assimilation, educational disadvantage, poverty, illiteracy, and more.

Given the complex systems of knowledge and culture these local languages have accumulated over thousands of years, their disappearance would involve the loss of a cultural treasure. So, join in to encourage urgent action to preserve, revitalise and promote the languages of indigenous peoples.

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