The Wikitongues Project

Today is International Mother Language Day and our blog is turning multilingual today. We are hosting a series of blog posts by different authors, illustrators, parents, educators and children – sharing their thoughts on languages and more. International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. 2015 is the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day.

While going through a few tweets to mark International Mother Language Day, we came across the Wikitongues Project. Rising Voices tells us more about the project :

The project asks individuals to contribute videos of themselves speaking in their own language – be it German, Urdu, Swahili, or any other, and is mostly organised through its Youtube account.  

Currently, Wikitongues is building a platform where anyone can upload videos on their own, making this a crowdsourced project – as well as incorporating as a non-profit. 

In documenting many different people speaking the same language from different regions, they hope, says co-founder Daniel Bogre Udell, to demonstrate a cultural application of language.  

However, the group is careful not to refer to languages as either majority or minority on the website, giving equal weight to different tongues regardless of the total number of global speakers.

When the Internet first went public in 1995, more than seven thousand languages were spoken around the world. Today, that reality is in rapid decline, as the side-effects of globalization provoke the death of a different language every two weeks. Unless something changes, this rate is likely to spell the extinction of more than 3,000 languages before the turn of the next century. This would be a catastrophic tragedy on an intimate, human scale, for the death of thousands of languages means not just the disappearance of grammar systems and vocabularies, but the human communities who use them as well. 

This reality is changing, however slowly. Documents like the European Union’s Charter for Regional and Minority Languages and Mexico’s General Law of Linguistic Rights indicate that world leaders are beginning to prioritize the importance of sustainable diversity. Moreover, the Internet has created a safe space for speakers of any language to meet, communicate, and share in their commonality of expression.  

Wikitongues is an affirmative response to this welcome change. We are a community of volunteers who believe that globalization can be a force for unity through diversity. As the world gets smaller, our cultural heritage need not suffer from mass extinction.

Learn more about their work on their website.
And if you want to join their #IMLD2015 campaign, here’s how you could contribute:
Image Source : Wikitongues Tumblr

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