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22 / 05 / 2004
Globalization sparks off a new phenomenon: the revival of declining and minority languages

Experts who today took part in the workshop “Linguistic Revival and Standardization”, as part of the Dialogue “Linguistic Diversity, Sustainability and Peace” which ends on Sunday, have coincided in their opinion that there exists a new and surprising trend: the revival of declining and minority languages, a trend that has come about as a result of the standardization effects of globalization

The chair of Institut Linguapax, Fèlix Martí, attended the workshop held this afternoon at 6 pm, on the survival and continuity “barometer” for languages around the world, and has described the conclusions as being “extremely encouraging”. Martí explained that in all five continents the same phenomenon of “linguistic resurgence” is taking place, a phenomenon led by “young people who have realized the importance of their cultural heritage”. “It used to be the case that being modern meant breaking with the past. Today young people have decided to reclaim their culture and in many cases to modernize it”, he added. An example of this can be seen in the case of Venezuela, where indigenous peoples are vindicating their language in a way that they have never done before, or else in Galicia and Asturias, where the “bagpipe culture” is once again becoming fashionable, and in one case in particular, the already famous musician Carlos Nuñez is reintroducing legends and songs from popular Galician culture and using computer technologies as a platform for his work.

The linguists have coincided in that the case of Israel is no longer the exception. This country has managed to make the resurrection of a dead language possible, converting it into a spoken language (Hebrew), and now they are not alone in this achievement. Although, as yet, there are no figures available, it is known that this phenomenon is taking place in Asia, Africa and America, which has led speakers to theorize that globalization is, paradoxically, the cause of this linguistic revitalization. “Linguistic communities have woken up to the challenges presented by globalization”, they stated. In this way, although it is true that the trend of disappearing languages is still evident, “something is happening” when a parallel and contrary trend can be identified.

The new linguistic diagnosis presented by speakers taking part in the Dialogue is that in the short term, in five or ten years, we will be able to talk of a true recovery of (semi) forgotten languages. In fact, the organizers of this workshop have been motivated by the evidence backing a new and hope-giving trend towards linguistic recovery.

Other workshops in the Dialogue, which have taken place as part of the X Linguapax Convention held in the Convention Center in the Forum Site, have covered, for example: the new situation created through the expansion of the European Union on May 1st, (which has led to the adoption of twenty official languages); or the need for governments to draft a linguistic policy (which as yet has not been created) in order to protect minority languages.