English language Web site on current affairs in the biggest russian region
10:50 | Jul 03 | 2014

Representatives of 50 countries discuss in Yakutsk what language to speak

 When discussing the languages preservation, it is necessary to start with the Internet, said Deputy Director-General of UNESCO Getachew Engida at the opening of the III International Conference on Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace, held as part of the UNESCO Information for All Programme.

The relevance of languages preservation was raised at previous conferences, which also took place in Yakutsk in 2008 and 2011. Then, they were attended by representatives of 15 and 30 countries, respectively. " At the third conference our geography has expanded and we are meeting with our colleagues from 50 countries. Under any global standards it is a very representative conference,"- said Evgeny Kuzmin, the Vice-chair of the Intergovernmental Council and Chair of the Russian Committee of UNESCO Information for All Programme, President of the Interregional Library Cooperation.

The Conference is held in Yakutia, because Russia, besdies the ethnic Russians, is home to over  100 indigenous peoples. Deputy Director-General of UNESCO Getachew Engida thanked the  Acting Head of the republic Yegor Borisov. Yakutia has a history of cooperation with UNESCO. This spring, the president of Yakutia Yegor Borisov during a meeting with UNESCO Director- General Irina Bokova signed the second Joint Communiqué. It stipulates the priority areas of cooperation between UNESCO and the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) in the field of education, science and environmental protection, social and humanitarian sciences, culture, communication and information.

As Getachew Engida said, today 670 languages ​​in the world are endangered, so every individual and every family have the responsibility for the preservation of languages: "I ​​left my home when I was 17 years old. But my wife and I gave our three children an opportunity to learn their language and culture, not allowing to get assimilated."

The Conference participants are unanimous in their opinion that the Internet is not a threat but an opportunity to develop and preserve languages.

Evgeny Kuzmin also said that the role of ethnic schools can not be overstated: "Giving children the opportunity to study in their native language is fundamental to the preservation of languages and people."

Preservation of languages depends on many factors, said Jean Radvani, Professor of the French National Institute of Oriental Languages abd Civilizations: "In big cities, it is much more difficult. But there are examples when the languages that seemed endangered have been preserved for a very long time. For example, in France in the late 19th century, efforts were made to make some languages​​, namely Corsican, Basque, Breton and others, disappear. It was forbidden even to speak these languages ​at school. And in the 1950-60s there began the reverse movement. It was decided to create conditions so that people should be admitted to universities speaking these languages, but it was too late.”

One of the main documents to be adopted at this Conference is the proposal to hold the World Summit on Multilingualism, told reporters Evgenis Mikhailova, the mastermind of the Conference and NEFU rector.

Greeting to the participants have been sent by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, the sponsor of the Conference and Head of the Federal Agency for Press and Mass Communications Mikhail Seslavinsky, and representatives of the Ministry of Culture.

Yakut Sakha News Agency