Reference News: The United Nations is looking to set up a multi-donor UNESCO fund for ancient-tribal languages to revitalise, preserve and promote ancient and tribal languages across the globe, including ancient Indian languages such as Prakrit, Pali and Sharda among others.
About the Chair:
The International Decade of Indigenous Languages programme by UNESCO has launched a task force, co-chaired by Ramesh Gaur, Head of Kalanidhi Division at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts, and director, the National School of Drama, that aims to translate these languages, including other indigenous ones from across the world, to more accessible modern ones to preserve and promote them.
About the Fund:
UNESCO fund for ancient-tribal languages will be available to communities and non-governmental organisations.
A new action plan will be implemented by all member countries.
UNESCO established the global task force for making a Decade of Action for Indigenous Languages on March 22, 2021.
The members include Canada, Iceland, Norway, Latvia, Russia, Ukraine, Bolivia, Paraguay, Peru, Australia, India, Thailand, Gambia, Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
There are nearly 1,700 languages in India, out of which there is no data for 949 languages.
The fund set up by the UN can be utilised for the digital archiving of the lost languages.
Understanding the Significance of Ancient-Tribal Languages
Ancient-tribal languages are the embodiment of the collective wisdom, history, and customs of indigenous communities that have thrived over generations. These languages are deeply interwoven with cultural practices, rituals, and traditional knowledge systems, making them invaluable repositories of cultural heritage. However, with the growing influence of dominant languages and globalization, many ancient-tribal languages face the risk of extinction. The preservation of these languages is not just a linguistic endeavor but also a vital step in protecting the diverse cultural identities of indigenous communities.
The Birth of the UNESCO Fund for Ancient-Tribal Languages
To address the critical issue of language endangerment and promote linguistic diversity, UNESCO established the Fund for the Revitalization of Endangered Languages. This fund was founded on the belief that linguistic diversity is an essential part of human heritage and contributes to the richness of our global tapestry. By supporting initiatives that revitalize ancient-tribal languages, UNESCO seeks to empower linguistic communities and ensure the continuity of their unique cultural expressions.
Objectives of the UNESCO Fund
The UNESCO fund for ancient-tribal languages is guided by a set of comprehensive objectives aimed at preserving, promoting, and reviving linguistic diversity:
1. Documentation and Preservation of Languages
The fund supports rigorous documentation efforts, collaborating with linguistic experts and indigenous communities to record and preserve ancient-tribal languages in written and digital formats. These efforts include the creation of dictionaries, grammatical resources, and audiovisual archives.
2. Revitalization and Language Maintenance
Beyond documentation, the UNESCO fund actively engages in revitalization efforts, striving to ensure the active use of ancient-tribal languages within communities. Language maintenance programs, community radio broadcasts, and language nests are some of the strategies employed to keep these languages alive.
3. Cultural Revival and Identity Preservation
Language is intrinsically linked to culture, and preserving ancient-tribal languages contributes to the revitalization of cultural practices and traditions. The fund supports cultural events, festivals, and community-led initiatives to celebrate and strengthen cultural identity.
4. Educational Integration
By integrating ancient-tribal languages into formal and informal educational settings, the UNESCO fund seeks to create a future generation of speakers. Language is a powerful tool for learning, and its integration in education fosters a sense of pride and ownership among young learners.
5. Cross-Cultural Dialogue and Exchange
Promoting cross-cultural dialogue and exchange is another key objective of the fund. Ancient-tribal languages facilitate communication between different indigenous communities, fostering understanding and collaboration.
Strategies Implemented by the UNESCO Fund
To achieve its objectives effectively, the UNESCO fund employs a range of strategies designed to empower linguistic communities and create sustainable language revitalization efforts:
1. Community-Led Initiatives
The fund recognizes the importance of community ownership in language revitalization. Local communities are actively involved in decision-making processes, ensuring that initiatives align with their cultural values and needs.
2. Language Revitalization Programs
Revitalization programs, such as language immersion schools and cultural camps, play a pivotal role in creating an immersive environment for language learning and practice.
3. Collaborative Partnerships
The UNESCO fund collaborates with linguistic experts, educational institutions, NGOs, and governments to leverage their expertise and resources in language documentation and revitalization efforts.
4. Digital Tools and Technology
Digital platforms, mobile applications, and online resources are utilized to make ancient-tribal languages more accessible to a wider audience.
5. Teacher Training and Capacity Building
The fund invests in training educators and language experts to ensure the quality and sustainability of language revitalization programs.
The UNESCO fund for ancient-tribal languages serves as a beacon of hope for linguistic diversity and cultural heritage preservation. Through its holistic approach, the fund empowers linguistic communities to embrace their unique identities and create a shared future enriched by ancient wisdom. The research blogs and study materials that emerge from these initiatives further contribute to fostering a world that values and celebrates the tapestry of languages and cultures that define humanity’s collective heritage. As we work together to preserve ancient-tribal languages, we strengthen the very fabric of human existence, ensuring a future where diversity, understanding, and unity coexist harmoniously.