World Leaders Learn from Native Languages


World leaders at the COP26 climate summit in Scotland have been urged to shift their thinking about the climate crisis to focus on humanity’s integration with and dependency on the natural world—through an art project celebrating Indigenous minority languages.

The living-language-land project (https://living-language-land.org) has identified words from minority languages and dialects around the world—including Lakota; Murui, a native language of Colombia and Peru; and Scots Gaelic—that highlight each culture’s relationship with its lands.

The idea is to offer a platform to minority and endangered language holders to share a word and story that reflects a relationship to land and nature. It is about enlarging the lexicon we can all draw from in reflecting on those relationships. 

Contributions have been invited from around the world, acknowledging that only a tiny fraction of minority and endangered languages can be represented in this project. All contributions have been created by communities themselves, and all contributors have received some compensation to support their wider work. All contributions are shared under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.

The British founders state that they “acknowledge the enduring privilege resulting from colonial practices, and take responsibility for decolonizing our thinking. We have used wide consultation and continuous self-reflection to bring this project forth in a way that aims to respect all peoples and knowledges.”

Living-language-land is funded by the British Council under the COP26 Creative Commissions program.



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