Why 2019 Is the International Year of Indigenous Languages

September 30 is International Translation Day. It’s celebrated on September 30 every year, and its purpose is to “show solidarity of the worldwide translation community in an effort to promote the translation profession in different countries” (Wikipedia, International Translation Day).

According to the FIT website, a unifying theme is chosen each year for International Translation Day. Some of the past themes include “Language Rights: Essential to all Human Rights” (2014) and “Translation and Diversity” (2018). For 2019, the theme is “Translation and Indigenous Languages.”

Why Focus on Indigenous Languages?

Losing a language is more than just losing words.

According to the website International Year of Indigenous Languages, “Despite their immense values, languages around the world continue to disappear at an alarming rate…the UN declared 2019 The Year of Indigenous Languages in order to raise awareness of them.” It seems only fitting that a day that raises awareness about the importance of translation should also raise awareness about the disappearing languages that make our world so rich and culturally diverse.

FIT explains that “Losing a language is more than just losing words, it is a loss of unique cultural perspectives and narratives contained within the language and culture, along with its contribution to the richness of diversity.” Bringing awareness of the indigenous languages that are at risk of complete dissolution gives people the knowledge that they still exist. The people who speak them should not only be revered, but protected.

Losing Out on Culture

There are currently close to 7,000 languages spoken around the world today. So why is it so important to draw attention to those who speak indigenous languages? The chair of the Global Indigenous Languages Caucus, Richard A. Grounds, PhD, says that “Indigenous Peoples represent less than six percent of the total world population, while speaking nearly 70 percent of the 6,700 languages in the world. More than 2,000 Indigenous languages are critically endangered with less than 1,000 speakers remaining.”

As the people who speak these languages pass away, they take an entire culture with them. This takes away the many contributions they make to society. According to the IYIL2019 website, the main objectives of promoting indigenous languages include taking steps to:

  • Improve quality of life
  • Enhance international cooperation
  • Strengthen intercultural dialogue
  • Reaffirm cultural and linguistic continuity

Taking Pride in What We Do

It is always our objective to stick to our values when it comes to providing the best translations possible. Each individual within our organization is committed to helping our clients succeed with any type of translation project they bring to the table. From our languages to our industries, our team strives to be the best at what we do. We continue to grow beyond document translation to provide audio and video production services, as well as subtitling, dubbing, and more.

We take pride in being an excellent representation of the translation industry. As we celebrate the international year of indigenous languages, we invite you to join with us in celebrating the power of language and culture. If your business needs professional translation, contact us. You’ll see just how important good translation can be.

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