Feb 2019 | Language has become a tool for social exclusion

Date: 21 Feb 2019

Source: The Conversation 

Within a week of the Salzburg Global Seminar’s Statement for a Multilingual Worldlaunching in February 2018, the document – which calls for policies and practices that support multilingualism – had received 1.5m social media impressions.

The statement opens with some striking facts, including that “all 193 UN member states and most people are multilingual”. It also points out that 7,097 languages are currently spoken across the world but 2,464 of these are endangered. Just 23 languages dominate among these 7,097, and are spoken by over half of the world’s population.

As these statistics show, the soundtrack of our lives and the visual landscapes of our cities are multilingual. Languages, in their plurality, enrich our experience of the world and our creative potential. Multilingualism opens up new ways of being and of doing, it connects us with others and provides a window into the diversity of our societies. And yet, despite the more positive statistics above, we are currently witnessing a deep divide.

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