Linguists,
UNESCO,
endangered languages
Presentation by Anahit Minasyan
Section for the Diversity of Cultural
Expressions, UNESCO
Timeline
Year
Dedicated initiative
Related initiative
1992
Launch of UNESCO’s ELP
CIPL congress & call
1994
Red book of endangered
languages
1996
1st edition of the Atlas
2001
2nd edition of the Atlas
20022003
UNESCO Ad Hoc Group on
endangered languages
2003
Language Vitality and
Endangerment paper
Univeral declaration on cultural
diversity
Convention on intangible heritage
2007
Declaration on the rights of
indigenous peoples
2008
UN Resolution on Multilingualism
2009
3rd edition of the Atlas
GC debate on possible
Convention
World Culture Report
Main actors and stakeholders
a) Member States (governments)
b) Epistemic community(linguists,
anthropologists)
c) Speakers (grassroots NGOs, activists,
indigenous groups)
d) UNESCO Secretariat (international civil
servants and national project officers)
Epistemic community
Rationale: high esteem of scientific authority,
legitimizing public action of governments and
organizations
Modalities within UNESCO
• soliciting contributions to documents (reports,
policy guidelines, position papers, etc.)
• soliciting participation in ‘expert meetings’ aiming
to shed light on specific questions
• involving in Committees, Evaluation Panels or as
consultants to tackle a particular research task or
manage a project
Selected expert meetings organized by UNESCO’s
Culture Sector
Year
Meeting
1997
International expert meeting on language policies in Africa
(Harare)
2003
International expert meeting on endangered languages (Paris)
20052006
Reigional expert meetings in Bamako and Addid Ababa
2007
Expert meeting on language mapping (Paris)
2011
Expert meeting to review LVE (Paris)
A typical discourse
production-diffusion-interpretation cycle
Actor
Action
Epistemic community
produces and popularizes a particular idea or
an argument
Governments
interpret/develop it into programmatic or
normative texts, policies and measures
(national level); resolutions and norms
(international level)
UNESCO / UN staff
interpret/develop it into advocacy texts,
reports, guidelines; support implementation of
norms
Speaker communities
appropriate and use to substantiate their
claims for language rights and status, and/or
to secure funding for their safeguarding
efforts, provide feedback
Language Vitality and Endangerment paper
UNESCO Atlas of Languages in Danger:
Three Print Editions (1996, 2001, 2010)
 First edition – 1996 - in English, French and
Spanish. 600 languages on 53 pages, 12 maps.
 Second updated edition – 2001- in English only.
800 languages on 90 pages, 14 maps.
 Third edition - 2010 – in English, French and
Spanish. 2500 languages on 154 pages, 62 maps.
For each language, the
print Atlas provides:
-
name
degree of endangerment
country or countries where
it is spoken.
Online Atlas Phase 1 (2008): intensive data collection
and collation by an expert group
- researching and consolidating data
- inputting data in the online tool
- locating languages on the map
- discussing over email: regional editors concerned + editor-in-chief +
UNESCO
Phase 2 (2009-20012) - ‘crowd-reviewing’: feedback
and content production by public, mediated by experts
over 1000 user
comments and
suggestions
submitted through
various channels
in 2009 – 2012
majority from
speakers of listed
languages
Overview
of comments
Comment
status
Under
treatment
%
Treatment stage
37%
UNESCO: accept / reject (offensive, nonsensical,
duplicates)
Editor-in-Chief : accept & forward to regional editor /
close
Regional editor(s) in consultation with Editor-in-Chief :
verify & suggest update / verify and close; reply to
author
UNESCO: validate, update online Atlas
Treated
63%
Rejected by UNESCO : 7 %
Closed by Editorial Board : 51 %
Validated by Board & reflected in online Atlas : 42 %
Total
100%
100%
375 updates, by type
Closed’ comments (no modification)
Comment 699 about Soyot language (Russian
Federation) marked as extinct in the Atlas. The user
suggested that during a research project, he saw
Soyot was taught at school and that school teachers
could speak the language.
• The regional editor confirmed these efforts to
revitalize the language since the 1970’s but also
observed that these attempts are yet to produce
measurable impact.
• After deliberation between the Regional Editor and
the Editor–in-chief, it was decided not to amend the
entry.
‘Validated’ comments - Bashkarik
Degree of endangerment
Severely endangered
Definitely endangered
Number of speakers
Approximately1500
Estimated 40 000 speakers
Alternate name(s)
Gawri; Kalami; Kalkoti (dialect)
Gawri; Kalami
Iso-code(s)
gwc, xka
gwc
Bibliography
Coordinates
Joan L.G. Baart and Muhammad
Zaman Sagar (2004): Kalam Kohistani
Texts. Islamabad: National Institute of
Pakistan Studies and Summer
Institute of Linguistics.
lat : 35.2893; long : 72.6168
lat : 35.5222 ; long : 72.5817
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