sexta-feira, 22 de fevereiro de 2008

INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF LANGUAGES

THOUSANDS OF LANGUAGES FACE EXTINCTION, UNITED NATIONS WARNS

«The International Year of Languages» kicked off yesterday with a warning from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) that more than half the world’s 6,700 spoken languages are threatened with extinction and every two weeks on average one language disappears somewhere around the world.

That’s because, in spite of “being vital carrier of the identity of groups and individuals, languages are not all treated as equals”, UNESCO says. So, according to experts, 96% of languages are spoken by only 4% of the population and globalization does not help language diversity. It may even become a killer of languages.

In a message marking International Mother Language Day, which was also celebrated yesterday, UNESCO Director-General Koïchiro Matsuura stressed the importance of all languages to everyday life.

Far from being a field reserved for analysis by specialists, languages lie at the heart of all social, economic and cultural life,” he said, explaining that ‘Languages matter!’ is the UNESCO slogan for the International Year of Languages.

The agency held a series of events – v.g., a round table, a seminar, several presentations and an information workshop – at its headquarters in Paris to mark the International Mother Language Day and launch the International Year of Languages.

International Mother Language Day has been celebrated on 21 February each year since 2000, and this year UNESCO said it had placed special emphasis on international instruments and standards that encourage multilingualism. The agency warned that when a language fades, so does a part of the world’s cultural tapestry, adding that globalization is placing many languages under ever greater threat.

“Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression – valuable resources for ensuring a better future are also lost,” UNESCO said in a statement.

Legal instruments such as the «European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages» and the 2003 «Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage» were examined. Linguistic policies put into effect on the African continent, Europe and South America were on the agenda.

People who lives in immigration countries – such as capeverdeans in United States, France or Portugal, should try to promote their mother languages as a right of cultural identity, especially between the new generation of «afro-americans» and «Afro-Portuguese». In the same way, small countries, as Cape Verde, should promote its mother language at schools, institutions and abroad, empathizing its value as a vehicle of culture and identity.

Languages are the basic expression of cultural diversity and it must be preserved as mankinds heritage and memory. It is a duty of every living man and all governments.


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~ Magical Maestro (1952), Tex Avery ~

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