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ISSN 1993-8616

  2008 - number 1

Languages matter

Preaching in the wilderness or banking on the future?


After prolific production in French, the Senegalese novelist Boubacar Boris Diop decided to write in Wolof. For a poor, multilingual population with an oral tradition, books are not a priority. Yet African writers who express themselves in their national languages are becoming more and more numerous. More

Strange language. Let’s say it’s a whale….


Born in Luxembourg into an Italian-speaking family, having spoken Luxembourgeois in the street, studied in French, German and English, improved his Spanish in Cuba, poet-novelist Jean Portante tells us here about his “strange language”, a medley of foreign languages jostling each other inside his head. More

Languages and immigration: bilingualism is an asset


To deprive immigrant children of their mother tongues is to create situations of conflict between the family model and the social model, which is to scorn their identities. If their languages and cultures were respected by school systems, they would develop a better esteem of themselves and of others. More

The secrets of Machaj Juyai-Kallawaya


Developed down through the centuries, Machaj Juyai is a “secret language” still spoken by a few families of traditional herbalist healers, the Kallawaya, who live in the Bolivian Andes. They propagate a now-threatened ancestral knowledge, which UNESCO is working to safeguard. More

The saga of the Ainu language


Several thousand years old, the Ainu language spoken in northern Japan was dying out due to political pressure from the central government. At the end of the 20th century, this trend was reversed. While Ainu’s future is still not guaranteed because it isn’t taught in schools, the resurgence of interest is undeniable. More

Kyrgyz: an “emerging” language


In the streets of Bishkek, two languages are found side by side on advertising billboards, at newsstands and in conversations. After gaining its independence in 1991, Kyrgyzstan adopted Kyrgyz as its national language and kept Russian as the official language. Linguistic results are mixed. More

The Indian dilemma


With some 1,650 languages and more than a million schools including all levels, India faces a serious challenge: to ensure national cohesion without compromising the interests of regional languages. It has invented the “three language formula”, difficult to implement. More

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