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24 / 05 / 2004
The Linguapax Congress concludes that it is possible to avoid the catastrophe of a massive disappearance of languages

Optimism among the socio-linguistic elite attending the Linguapax Dialogue “Linguistic Diversity, Sustainability and Peace”. Even though 10 years ago the worst forecasts pointed towards the disappearance of 90 percent of languages as a result of globalization, experts are now relieved to confirm that some languages are undergoing a revival

The linguists Fèlix Martí and Isidor Marí have summed up the results of the Dialogue pointing out the good news of the revival of some languages. “We are dealing with a very interesting phenomenon which breaks away from the idea that globalization will be capable of doing away with 90 percent of all languages spoken in the course of the 21st century”, said Martí. “We are at a decisive juncture for languages and that catastrophe may now be averted”, endorsed Marí.

In this sense, those organizing “Linguapax” pointed out that “in the same way that ecological awareness has become more wide-spread, it will be necessary for these concerns held by socio-linguists to be carried over into mainstream society”. Marí reminded the event’s participants that the 10 most widely spoken languages are used by only half of the world’s population, concluding with the words, “it is a question of establishing a dialogue between minorities because every language is a minority”.

In relation to the situation in Spain, Marí went on to mention that the 4 main languages have not yet achieved a “balance”. “The fact that Spanish is the sole official language is indicative of state nationalism”, he said. Fèlix Martí, director of the dialogue, expressed his delight at the fact that Catalonia is considered as a model of good management in terms of linguistic diversity and also quoted the cases of Eritrea and Papua-New Guinea. “I am optimistic because we have something to use as a benchmark”, he added.

The Dialogue “Linguapax” has also exposed the need to establish a global model for living together between languages based on new principles opposed to concepts such as domination or colonialism. Martí and Marí announced that the first universal report on the state of languages commissioned by UNESCO has practically been concluded.

Casa de las lenguas
The two speakers pointed out that one of the legacies of the Forum could be the founding in Barcelona of the Casa de las lenguas proposed in the course of the Dialogue by the linguist David Crystal. The president of the Generalitat, Pasqual Maragall, has already shown his interest in the initiative although Fèlix Martí has admitted that the initiative per se is just getting off the ground although Linguapax has been working on the idea for some time.

In this respect, Martí and Marí specified that the future Casa de las lenguas should be a centre for serious research and not a museum of languages, “which we disagree with, given that a museum is a place for realities of the past and not the future”, he added. The idea here is to create “an innovative proposal capable of promoting harmony between majority languages, languages with a medium sized population of speakers and minority languages. He went on to name Barcelona as a point of reference in this field, a “Mecca of linguistic diversity”, according to Marí.

Finally, the organizers of “Linguapax” expressed their appreciation at the high level of linguistic expertise of participants taking part in the dialogue, which succeeded in attracting over 400 inscriptions. “The event has been a success in terms of attendance and there were no significant absences”, mentioned Martí.