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Language Fest! International Mother Language Day 2017

On February 21st, 2017, students, staff, community members and researchers came together to celebrate International Mother Language day at SOAS in the Paul Webley Wing, Senate House. This event showcased not only the linguistic and cultural diversity of our school, but also some of the great work being produced in the areas of language teaching and Linguistics at SOAS.

In addition to the contributions of students and staff, we collaborated with artists, poets and filmmakers to make some unique pieces and displays on the topic of language.

Take a look below to see a few of the displays and events presented at Language Fest 2017:

Artist Judith Glynn’s Tree of Language is a piece based on the genealogy of the Indo-European languages.

Sheena Shah speaks on N|uu (Khoisan) languages and their wide inventories of click sounds.

Student Lauren Baker gives a short tutorial of British Sign Language.

Mary Kuper has created a series of paintings inspired by metaphors of the body drawn from languages of the world. Attendees were invited to draw and share their own metaphors from the languages they speak. Click here to see a collection of these metaphors.

SOAS We Talk is a student-run project celebrating 100 years of diversity at SOAS. Attendees participate by filming a short excerpt in a language they speak. These videos are now available on YouTube and on the SOAS We Talk visualisation


Seeing & Hearing Endangered Voices: The Endangered Languages Documentation Programme collaborated with Anna and Remy Sowa who created films using footage from several projects housed at the Endangered Languages Archive. These films were made with the support of the following depositors, whose documentation is featured in the films; Andrey Filchenko, Lauren Gawne, Swintha Danielsen, Lena Terhart, Peter and Bobby Black, Jonathan Amith, Ross Perlin, Darja Hoenigman, Serge Sagna and Saloumeh Gholami. Later in the day, Zena Edwards hosted Home Speak, a poetry slam in collaboration with the SOAS Spoken Word Society. Poets delivered creative offerings on speaking other languages, being mono-lingual, and how language helps us to understand ourselves, the world we live in, and how language connects with ideas of diversity, ethnicity and belonging.

Poets who performed their original works at Language Fest were:

Zena Edwards
Shareefa Roots
James Messam
Mujtaba Ahmed
Indigo William
Nicole Nienhaus
Tanya Denhere
Jally Kebba Sousso
Annie Rockson
Neimo Askar
Troy Cabida
Stefan Keilbasiewicz
Thank you to everyone who participated and helped to make Language Fest an unmissable occasion!

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