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Virtual Language Fest

SOAS World Languages Institute, ELAR and ELDP host a virtual celebration of International Mother Language Day!

Language Fest 2020 ProgrammeInternational Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999 “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”. The idea to celebrate International Mother Language Day was the initiative of Bangladesh, where 21 February is a national holiday commemorating the Bengali Language Movement.

Due to the strike action which took place at SOAS on 21 February 2020 our annual Language Fest to celebrate International Mother Language Day had to be postponed.

Using the hashtags #IMLD2020 and #LanguageFest2020 we hosted a Virtual Language Fest.

Throughout the day we shared content on Mother Language related issues and showcased some of the projects SWLI, ELAR and ELDP have been involved with recently.

Mother Language Spoken Word Showcase

During UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019, ELDP together with Chouette Films produced four beautiful videos featuring spoken word artists Zena Edwards, Shareefa Energy, Jah-Mir Early and Joe Duggan. The videos were released on 21 February. Zena Edwards had hosted poetry slams at previous Language Fests.

The videos were funded by Arcadia – founded by Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin, Arcadia supports charities and scholarly institutions to preserve cultural heritage, protect the environment, and promote open access.

Draw your metaphor

On our Twitter, Instagram and Facebook channels we shared images of metaphors from around the world, that participants had drawn at our Language Fests 2017 and 2019.

Here are some of our favourites:

Tongue Tied – Do you speak your mother’s tongue? Podcast release

In the context of UNESCO’s International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019, SOAS World Languages Institute produced a series of podcasts together with SOAS Radio. Listen to the episode recorded by Adékúnmi Ọlátúnjí, and read about her experiences recording the episode on the ELAR blog.

Adékúnmi Ọlátúnjí at SOAS radio
Adékúnmi Ọlátúnjí recording at SOAS Radio
Virtual editathon

Did you know 76% of users edit Wikipedia in English? This means only a tiny fraction of the world’s linguistic diversity is represented on Wikipedia.

On International Mother Language Day we invited everyone to edit Wikipedia in languages other than English, using #Lingwiki. We provided advice on how to edit Wikipedia articles.

Screening of Wild Honey 22 February 2020

Following our Virtual Language Fest SOAS World Languages Institute hosted a screening of Farhad Akhmetov’s and Ava Porter‘s 2019 film Wild Honey: A Documentary on Music and Language in Russia. The screening was very well attended.

Guided by folk music, ‘Wild Honey’ presents a rare view of the ethnic communities of five regions of Russia: the Muslim Bashkirs of the Southern Ural Mountains, the Christian Molokans of the Caucasus, the Orthodox Cossacks of the Southern Steppe, the Jewish Ashkenazim and Krymchaks of the Black Sea, and the Shamanistic Teleuts and Telenguits of Central Siberia.

Still from ‘Wild Honey’