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LINGUIST List 16.1693

Fri May 27 2005

FYI: Call for participation: Voices of the World

Editor for this issue: Ann Sawyer <sawyerlinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Signe Byrge Sørensen, Call for participation: Voices of the World

Message 1: Call for participation: Voices of the World
Date: 25-May-2005
From: Signe Byrge Sørensen <byrgefinal-cut.dk>
Subject: Call for participation: Voices of the World

Call for participation in Voices of the World
An international media project on endangered languages

Dear colleagues around the world,

Voices of the World aims to build international popular awareness of the
diversity of mankind through a world-wide documentary film and media project. We
want to portray the peoples of the world, giving face and voice to each culture
and empowering every language community to speak. The goal of Voices of the
World is to strengthen our globalmutual belonging.

The peoples of the world speak over 6,500 separate languages. Each language
employs a vocabulary and a grammar that is unique to the communities that use
them. Each reflects cultures that are equally unique, rich in folklore, history
and humanity. In a time of globalization and the telecommunications revolution
that is accompanying it, most of those languages have come under threat. A
surprisingly large number, about 50%, will probably not survive this century.
Many are already in terminal decline. Most of these languages are spoken by
indigenous peoples. Linguists calculate that planet earth is losing one language
every two weeks - and with each one that vanishes, a means of communication,
a method of expression and a way of looking at the world, disappears.

Voices of the World is an international non-profit initiative of UNESCO's
Goodwill Ambassador for Languages Mrs. Vigdis Finnbogadottír, based on an
original idea by the internationally acclaimed filmmaker Janus Billeskov Jansen,
supported by the Danish Government, the UN and by leading linguists from all
over the world.


Our first task is to create a media event in connection with UN's 60th
anniversary in October 2005. All the Nordic public service TV stations are
already committed to this broadcast. We are presently working on similar
arrangements with other European and international TV-stations. Our aim is to
reach a global TV-audience.

In order to make this a truly global event we want to invite YOU to participate
in creating key elements of the central documentary film - Voices.

Voices will tell the story of the cultural and linguistic loss the world is
suffering from the threat of language endangerment. The film takes its
point of departure in a personal talk with UN Secretary-General Mr.
Kofi Annan, in his own mother tongue Fante, expressing his concerns
for cultural and linguistic diversity.

But the main elements of the film are to be based on YOUR
contributions. We seek case stories, which pinpoint the various stages
from language endangerment to language death. We look for
storytellers who can explain what it feels like to loose one's language.


We aim to include material from as many different languages as
possible in the film, but we have a limited budget. Thus we are looking
for local contributions.

You can participate in three different ways. Firstly, you can submit
new material. Secondly, you can submit material already recorded.
And thirdly, you can send us contacts to speakers of endangered

We are looking for charismatic storytellers who can tell moving
personal stories to the world in their own language. The issues to be
covered are:

1. The language generation gap - for example how does it feel to live
in a family where grand parents and grand children find it hard to
communicate, because the language of the older generation was not
passed on?
2. The last speakers - for example how does it feel to be among the
last few speakers of a language?
3. Language suppression (economic, social, political, cultural) - for
example how do people cope with situations, when their language is
not given space in the public sphere? What does it mean to a person
or a community, if their language is forbidden or drained of resources?
4. Language and technology - for example how are speakers of
endangered languages affected by globalization and the new
information technology?

We are also looking for success stories such as:
5. Language revitalization - for example how did a particular
endangered language community manage to turn the situation around
and revitalize their language?
6. Other vital language issues? - YOU might come up with something
brilliant, which we were not even able to conceptualize - given the
limitations of our language...


If you want to participate in "Voices", please start by sending us an
email introducing yourself, your language or the language you are
engaged with. Please also describe your contribution and in what way
you would like to collaborate with us. We will then send you more information
about the project, more precise specifications of what we are looking for and
technical requirements. We will do our best to support you in your filmmaking
efforts and to make use of your material in the best possible way.

Don't miss this opportunity to present YOUR language as part of the
bigger picture.

After the film is finished, all the footage collected and shot for the
Voices of the World project will be handed over to the Vigdis
Finnbogadottír Institute of Foreign Languages at University of Iceland.
The aim of Voices of the World and the university is to create a
database of all the world's languages, accessible to everybody via the

Contact: Voices of the World
Project manager: Signe Byrge Sørensen
e-mail: byrgefinal-cut.dk
Address: Forbindelsesvej 7; 2100 Copenhagen, Denmark
Tel: +45 35 43 60 43, Fax: +45/ 35 43 60 44

Kofi Annan on Voices of the World:
'What could be a better way to pay homage to the United Nations on
the occasion of its 60th anniversary than to stress the value of cultural
and linguistic diversity of the peoples of the world. After all, by
celebrating the diversity of human culture we only strengthen the
dialogue among civilizations, an idea rooted in the fundamental United
Nations values. I congratulate you on your excellent initiative.' Kofi
Annan, Secretary General, UN.

This call will be send to indigenous people's organizations, linguists,
NGOs and filmmakers around the world.

Please pass the call to all individuals and organizations, you think
would be interested in participating in "Voices".

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics

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