The CIPL/CIPSH Chair “Ethnolinguistic Vitality and Diversity in the World” has been established at Leiden University in December 2020. The Chair will be formally inaugurated on Friday 30th September, 2022 with the Inaugural Lecture of its First Occupant, Felix K. Ameka, at 16 hours (CEST) in the Groot Auditorium of the Academiegebouw. The inauguration will commence on Thursday 29th September with a Symposium with the theme
Ethnolinguistic vitality and diversity: Looking back and moving forward
2022 is the start of UNESCO’s International Decade of Indigenous Languages (IDIL), 2022-2032. This year marks significant anniversaries in the journey towards documenting and understanding language vitality: It is 35 years since CIPL drew the attention of the linguistic community to language endangerment. It is 30 years since Ken Hale et al. (1992) sent out the vital and urgent message concerning the crisis of the world’s languages challenging linguists not to sit aloof and watch the loss of linguistic diversity. Much has happened since and 2022 is a good moment to take stock and draw up strategies for the coming years, especially during the IDIL, hence the theme of the Symposium.
Linguistic vitality and diversity are multifaceted phenomena. In the first in the series of Symposiums to be organized by the Chair we will focus on three aspects
(i) Language endangerment gave rise to a new agenda in linguistics, documentary linguistics or language documentation. We will discuss methodological and technological developments that can enhance the documentation enterprise. How can fieldwork be decolonized? What are new ways of doing fieldwork engendered by the pandemic?
(ii) Endangered languages are used in multilingual ecologies. How do we take account of contact and variation features in documentary practices? Children growing up in multilingual communities seem to be seamlessly socialized into multiple languages. How can we adopt some of these socialization processes and adapt them to strategies in our language maintenance practices to promote language-culture transmission.
(iii) Language policies are a significant source of creating hierarchies of languages in a community be it at the family or national level. What kinds of language policies should we be pursuing at school and in government that will promote the vitality of all languages? We will explore the role of linguists in providing advice about language use and language ecologies and attempt to address the question of how linguists can make their findings relevant to decision makers in politics.
The programme and further details will be announced soon.