This year, UNESCO has is placing considerable emphasis on the importance of indigenous languages as part of cultural heritage. So much so, that they have named 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
Language is more than just communication; it is a crucial aspect of cultural identity. Sadly, many of these languages are under threat. In a previous post (below), I mentioned that there are 2680 languages listed as vulnerable throughout the world and 9 of these are native to the UK. I suppose given that I didn’t even realise some of these languages existed that they are vulnerable.
My experiences so far…
I am quite proud to call myself British (which is maybe a very non-British thing to do). I have ancestry from England, Scotland and Ireland that I know of from the UK and it does make a part of my identity. Jeffrey is a Scottish surname that I inherited through marriage, and my husband’s father is Northern Irish. My mother is from Glasgow, with my grandfather’s parents being from Southern Ireland. My father’s family are from around greater London, as well as all over parts of England (so far traced it back to 14th century Norfolk).
I have also lived in New Zealand, and I have seen firsthand how successfully Te Reo Maori is incorporated into daily life, with education in schools, greetings at the start of TV programmes, renaming of places and even the odd Maori word or phrase in soap operas. Maori is still listed as vulnerable, but there is a significant increase in native speakers, helping to preserve the language for future generations.
Today, on International Mother Language Day, I am setting myself a challenge.
- Gaining insight into these vulnerable languages of Britain and share my experiences with you.
- Hopefully learning some of these languages (full disclosure – I am not very good at picking up or speaking new languages, with very VERY basic speaking of French, German and Turkish).
- Uncover more about these languages and what is being done in the local communities to save them.
I can’t wait to get started!