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13.11.2015 - Communication & Information Sector

Towards a Revised UNESCO’s Language Vitality Index

A team making video recording with members of a local language community. © Frank Seidel

UNESCO, in cooperation with SOAS World Languages Institute supported by the London Middle East Institute in UK, is organizing a two-day consultative expert meeting on the revision of UNESCO’s Language Vitality Index, which will be used for the development of UNESCO’s World Atlas of Languages.

The major objective of the meeting is to seek expert advice of the revision of UNESCO Language Vitality Index and discuss further steps on the elaboration of a more comprehensive language vitality and endangerment assessment framework. The gathering in London is a follow up to the international expert meeting held by UNESCO, Intergovernmental Information for All (IFAP) and other partners in October 2014 in Paris, France during which the recommendations for the Action Plan were provided for the development of the UNESCO World Atlas of Languages.

This work has been initiated by UNESCO with a conviction that there is an imperative need for language documentation, development of new language policy initiatives and better sharing of available language resources in language, information and memory institutions to enhance the vitality of these languages, promote their presence on the Internet, media and public domain and last but not the least to encourage the global community to act together.

In order to achieve this, a systematic collection of language related data, documentation of language resources using Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and empowerment of linguistic communities are required. It is not enough to support traditional language documentation practices and approaches, research results sharing and community-based work. There is a need for creation of new models emphasizing a role of language and linguistic diversity for development of any society. 

Language matters for sustainable development not only if it is relevant to its users, but also to nation and global community to accomplish diverse goals. Therefore, it is important to demonstrate relevance of language and linguistic diversity within the context of societal development based on an analysis of the sociolinguistic situation of a language.

For the past decade, UNESCO has actively promoted the concept of knowledge societies that are open, pluralistic, equitable, and participatory. UNESCO is strongly committed to promoting linguistic diversity and multilingualism, particularly on the Internet. Through the voice of the local communities, universities, information and media professionals, IT sector and governments showcased in this document, UNESCO demonstrates its major federative role in fostering international cooperation and promoting innovation, linguistic diversity and multilingualism on the Internet.

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