U.N. proclaims 2008 the International Year of Languages

Dennis Baron debaron at UIUC.EDU
Sun Dec 30 07:26:09 UTC 2007

There's a new post on the Web of Language:

U.N. proclaims 2008 the International Year of Languages

Insisting that everyone in the world should speak a language, the  
United Nations General Assembly has declared 2008 the International  
Year of Languages. Matsuura Koichiro, director-general of UNESCO, the  
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization,  
will coordinate international efforts to stress the importance of  
languages and promote their study. . . .

To Matsuura, languages are essential both for individual identity and  
for peaceful coexistence. Language eradicates poverty and hunger.  
Literacy and education are useless without language to back them up.  
And language is instrumental in fighting “HIV/AIDS, malaria and other  
diseases.” UNESCO underscores the connection between cultural  
diversity and linguistic diversity, and with only about a quarter of  
all languages are used in schools or in cyberspace, U.N. experts warn  
that up to half of the 7000 languages in the world are in danger of  
disappearing over the next few generations. . . .

In conjunction with the International Year of Languages, UNESCO is  
encouraging government policies that support the use of first  
languages together with the learning of regional, national and  
international languages, to ensure that everyone can participate in a  
globalizing world. UNESCO also encourages everyone to “take a  
language to lunch” by learning additional languages, both big and  
small, and it sponsors the annual World Language Day, on Feb. 21,  
2008, to celebrate everyone’s right to use their native tongue in all  
aspects of their daily lives and to honor the martyrs who have died  
to preserve their linguistic rights.

While the rest of the world lines up to support the U.N.’s  
International Languages Year, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations  
Dr. Zalmay Khalilzad has announced that America’s participation  
remains problematic. The Bush administration is claiming that  
languages were theories, not scientifically-proven facts, and the  
president himself recently affirmed his belief that God created  
English in just six days and promised to veto the use of federal  
funds to teach language evolution to impressionable children.

Read the rest of this exciting post on the Web of Language,


and a happy New Year to all,

Dennis Baron
Professor of English and Linguistics
Department of English
University of Illinois
608 S. Wright St.
Urbana, IL 61801

office: 217-244-0568
fax: 217-333-4321


read the Web of Language:

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list