Safeguarding a mom tongue and mom nature — World Points

Despite the fact that each Nami and Tomoyuki had been born on Okinoerabu Island (at the moment house to solely 12,000 inhabitants), neither discovered to talk Shimamuni – a neighborhood number of the Kunigami language – fluently as kids.

Kunigami was added to UNESCO’s Atlas of the World’s Languages in Hazard in 2009 and categorized as “undoubtedly endangered” to lift public consciousness that “kids now not be taught the language as a mom tongue within the house.”

A household takes motion

After studying that the indigenous language of Okinoerabu Island was formally thought-about endangered, the couple and their 4 kids took it upon themselves to translate their love for language into impactful actions which have since resonated far past the island.

Okinoerabu Island residents weren’t simply involved about shedding a language, but additionally more and more alarmed by the proliferation of marine litter. In what started as a college challenge assigned over the summer time break, the Sao kids determined that they might deal with each points concurrently by performing each day seashore clean-up whereas participating in language actions, equivalent to singing and conserving a diary in Shimamuni to doc their day-to-day progress.

Leveraging the Shimamuni vernacular as a thread of shared native id connecting folks from numerous walks of life, the Sao household has since expanded its conservation pursuits to incorporate cooking native delicacies, offering haircuts to residents of nursing properties, studying arts and crafts on the group centre and collaborating in a “Shimamuni Salon” the place language classes are supplied and native environmental points are repeatedly mentioned. The aim is to domesticate the following technology of eco-conscious Shimamuni audio system.

“With out these community-driven actions, the language would turn out to be extinct with the passing of its aged audio system,” stated Dr. Sumittra Suraratdecha, assistant professor of linguistics on the Analysis Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia (RILCA) in Thailand.

Linguistic range and sustainable improvement

When queried concerning the underlying motivation for his household’s involvement in such a broad vary of actions, the considerate Tomoyuki cites the urgency of reaching the formidable Sustainable Growth Targets (SDGs) by 2030.

He felt that relatively than imparting to his kids data that he acquired via formal schooling 20 to 30 years in the past, it might be higher to assist their studying by doing and thereby facilitate their accumulation of real-life experiences that can empower them to make a distinction.

Because it seems, the Shimamuni language not solely serves as a automobile for transmitting native data, equivalent to conventional dessert recipes, to the island’s youth, it additionally improves the effectivity of communication about environmental points to aged islanders, a few of whom as soon as harboured the mistaken perception that marine litter ought to merely be left to degrade by itself.

Given the present world actuality of burgeoning non-degradable waste and microplastics, the Shimamuni mom tongue helps to convey the true extent of the issue to senior residents with higher immediacy.

Reflecting on the circumstances of the Sao household and their inventive response to native ecocultural challenges, Kyungah Kristy Bang, a marketing consultant for multilingual schooling on the UNESCO regional workplace in Bangkok and coordinator of the Asia-Pacific Multilingual Schooling Working Group, remarked that “celebrating linguistic range may be an efficient software and resolution to attaining the SDGs on the native degree.”

Recognition on a worldwide stage

In October 2023, the Sao household had the chance to current their inspiring story on the seventh Worldwide Convention on Language and Schooling, in Bangkok, Thailand.

The Sao family

UNESCO/Santibhap Ussavasodhi

The Sao household

As representatives of Okinoerabu Island collaborating in a serious worldwide convention co-hosted by UNESCO, they attended the occasion, which drew over 450 language consultants and individuals from everywhere in the globe.

The Sao household garnered island-wide assist, as the 2 principal cities on the island united in serving to to organize the household’s presentation movies and canopy a portion of their journey bills.

“Whereas the convention brings collectively numerous stakeholders, equivalent to coverage makers, practitioners and researchers who share their experiences with language in schooling, we frequently neglect that there’s extra usually a whole group or group, or in such case a household, driving the sustainability of linguistic range,” stated Brandon Darr, a schooling marketing consultant with UNESCO’s regional workplace.

For Tomoyuki, attaining recognition on a global stage has solely served to strengthen his household’s guiding sense of objective.

“Our aim is to dwell a mentally considerable life,” he stated.

His spouse concured.

“When our kids develop up, they’ll dwell wherever,” she stated, “however I need them to protect their language and tradition of their hearts.”

Launched in 1996 with some 600 endangered languages mapped globally, the Atlas continues to thrive at this time as an interactive on-line software premised on the assumption that linguistic range underpins sustainable improvement and fosters equitable and pluralistic societies.

Study extra concerning the Atlas and the languages it protects right here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *