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MUSEUM International N°239
Languages Between Heritage and Development

Museum239-Large.gif-eng.gifTable of Contents


Chap. 1: Languages as Cultural Vehicles for Integration and Development

Chap. 2: Museums of Languages: Their Role and Challenges

      Extra online article

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UNESCO and languages: A Commitment to Culture and Development, Mauro Rosi

For more than sixty years languages and multilinguism constitute essential aspects of UNESCO’s programme and it is still true today.  This is due, on the one hand, to the fact that we are witnessing an unprecedented valorization of intangible cultural heritage in all its forms, and on the other, to the fear that globalization will cause an acceleration in the disappearance of a large number of endangered languages.  In this context, UNESCO has opted in favour of languages and multilinguism, by creating normative tools and specialized and multidisciplinary programmes.  Top

The International Legal Framework for the Safeguarding and Promotion of Languages, Janet Blake

There are a sizeable number of international law provisions that answer the needs of speaker communities for the safeguarding and promotion of their languages, most of them rights-based. Some of UNESCO’s cultural heritage instruments are also of relevance. This article analyses the existing law, its effectiveness and underlying principles and considers whether there is a need for further legal development in this area as well as the usefulness of non-normative approaches. Top

The European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages: Ten Years of Protecting and Promoting Linguistic and Cultural Diversity, Alexey Kozhemyakov

This article presents the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages (ECRML). With about 250 languages spoken through Greater Europe our continent represents an excellent testing-ground for finding the proper identity and fostering the mutual understanding of linguistic groups, promoting the perception of linguistic diversity as a part of national and all-European cultural wealth. Top

Languages and Cultural Identities in Africa, Athanase Bopda and Louise Angéline Ngamgne

This article departs from the very foundation of the existence of languages in order to examine their importance in the constitution of African cultural identities and their role in the development and the consolidation of these identities. Languages are the pillar and the primary driver of African culture, marked as it is by orality. Orality is profound and contributes to morally and spiritually enriching the African individual. Furthermore, for the African, orality promotes self fulfillment and brightens his vision of the world. This is why African languages have endured and continue to endure in spite of centuries of domination, from the slave trade to cultural neocolonialism, including colonization. Today, they must be redeployed through the structures put in place in Africa, without retreating into a logic of paralysis.  Also, despite being a basis for African cultural identity and local development, should African languages seek mutual enrichment through the contact with other cultures and identities?  Top

The Guaraní Language, Seal of Identity of the Paraguayans, a Path to Integration and Development, Delicia Villagra-Batoux

The Guarani language is an Amerindian language spoken by the majority of the inhabitants of Paraguay.  The identity of the Paraguayan nation has been strongly marked by this language which has accompanied it throughout its history.  By recognizing it first as a national language and subsequently as an official language, the Paraguayan State is the first one to save and dignify a language of the first inhabitants of the American continent and is ready to accompany it along the path of social integration and development.  Top

A Place For All Languages: On Language Vitality and Revitalization, Akira Y. Yamamoto, Matthias Brenzinger and María E. Villalón

Many languages are vanishing forever and with them a wealth of human knowledge. Languages disappear when people stop using them. In this article we examine some of the complex reasons that may lead speakers to abandon their heritage languages in favour of a dominant one. We also discuss ways to halt or reverse this trend, which usually involves shifts in identities among other factors. This article emphasizes that acquiring a so called "world language" need not mean losing one's own. Top

The Role of the Palenge Language in the Transmission of Afro-Palenquero Cultural Heritage, Juana Pabla Pérez Tejedor

This article portrays the cultural universe of San Basilio de Palenque and highlights the role of the Palenge language as a vehicle of expression and transmission of Afro-palenquero cultural heritage. It also shows the importance of the wake as a social space for the strengthening of cultural practices, one of the foremost examples being the Lumbalú. Moreover, the text analyses the social and educational role of kuagro in the different stages of the palenquero life and describes the various musical rhythms that reflect the creativity of the members of this culture. Finally, it outlines the strategies used by the palenqueros in the process of safeguarding their cultural heritage, and how actions are implemented at a community level for the recovery, use and dissemination of their mother tongue. Top

A London Language Museum, David Crystal

In the mid-1990s, a proposal for a World of Language museum was planned in London. This paper discusses the motivation behind the proposal, outlines its content, and explains the strategy behind it - as well as the reasons for its failure. Initiatives of a similar kind in other countries are briefly reviewed, and the principles underlying the Linguamón House of Languages in Barcelona explained and compared to the London project. The paper concludes with a reflection on the possible future for such a project in the UK in the 2000s. Top

Linguamón – House of Languages: A Museum for the World’s Living Languages, Antoni Mir i Fullana

The United Nations has called for development and peaceful coexistence, and Catalonia is responding with a groundbreaking undertaking. An international facility for raising awareness of the world’s 6,000 tongues, the House of Languages is set to open in 2010, in the hub of technological innovation and cultural creativity in Barcelona. Top

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Publisher Blackwell Publishing
Periodicity Quarterly
Buy this issue at Blackwell Publishing

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