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Language Fest at SOAS on February 21st, 2017

ELAR and the SOAS World Languages Institute (SWLI) are excited to announce the Language Fest on 21 February 2017 at SOAS, University of London. This will be a special one day language festival, inviting members of the SOAS and wider community to experience SOAS’s work with languages.

Artist Judith Glynn’s work visually representing the development of Indo-European Languages.

Dr Sheena Shah, Dr Hannah Gibson and Dr Mandana Seyfeddinipur, the organisers of the event, have brought together SOAS staff, students and artists showcasing their work on, with and through language.

Language Fest highlights the importance of languages and diversity to SOAS and will mark International Mother Language Day 2017. International Mother Language Day is a worldwide annual observance to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of Bangla as one of the two national languages of (then) Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

Some highlights of the events will be:

Metaphors we live by: the body and expression of envy. 12-5pm Paul Webley Wing, Atrium walkway.

Mary Kuper’s Artworks inspired by metaphors of the body

Using the Endangered Languages Archive resources and linguistic studies of metaphors, artist Mary Kuper has created six pictures combining metaphorical expressions from different languages. These pictures express basic human emotions, such as happiness and jealousy. The paintings encompass the richness of human experience and their translation into linguistic expression. In addition to exhibiting these works, we will feature a wall  open to students who wish to contribute striking metaphors from languages they speak.

Home Speak. Poetry Slam 5-7pm Paul Webley Wing, Atrium.

Zena Edwards and the SOAS Spoken Word Society are producing and hosting ‘Home Speak.’ The theme of this poetry slam will feature the languages we speak, can’t speak and don’t speak. Poets will deliver creative offerings on speaking other languages, being mono-lingual and how language helps us navigate our inner worlds, our own identities, and our environments. This work aims to explore how language connects with ideas of diversity, ethnicity and belonging.

Poet Zena Edwards will lead a poetry slam on the theme ‘Home Speak’

Seeing Endangered Languages & Hearing Endangered Voices. 12-5pm Paul Webley Wing, Cloister space.

Language Documentation

Visitors and students will have the opportunity to watch a selection 3 minute films showcasing materials from the Endangered Languages Archive. Anna and Remi Sowa, founders of Chouette films, have produced these films together with the language documenters as a visual testament to their work.

The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme at SOAS supports linguists, anthropologists and community members worldwide to document the world’s linguistic diversity and to deposit this material in SOAS digital Endangered Languages Archive (ELAR). They go and live in the communities and record, learn, translate and transcribe languages which will be falling silent in the next 5, 10, 20 or 50 years. Speakers talk about their past and their current lives and what they expect from the future. They speak about how they make things, how they worship and also hunt.

Come, watch and listen to these speakers and learn from our staff and students about the effects of globalisation on language diversity and how SOAS research and teaching affects this process.

In addition to the above events and exhibits we will host a series of interactive talks and language taster sessions throughout the day in the Paul Webley Atrium walkway. Topics include:

  • Click Away: An Introduction to Khoisan languages- Sheena Shah
  • Mother Tongues: Multilingual repertoires of Senegal- Abbie Hantgan and Chelsea Krajcik
  • Meet the SOAS Grambank Coding Team
  • Sylheti Language Taster Session- SOAS Sylheti Project
  • The importance of Newar language (Nepal Bhasa) as a mark of identity for Newar communities in London- Newar Language Society

To find out more and see the full programme of events, visit the SWILI event page.

Be sure to follow us on FaceBookInstagram and Twitter to receive updates and information about Language Fest.

By Martha Tsutsui Billins

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