From 13th to 18th November Warsaw will become the capital of unique languages, including Wymysiöeryś, Lemko and Nahuatl. The University of Warsaw organises open events due to the Week of Linguistic Diversity.
For six days in November Warsaw will abound with unique language and cultural events. According to the organisers, researchers from the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, the purpose of the Linguistic Diversity Week is to draw public attention to the special role that minority languages play in culture, as well as to the benefits of multilingualism.
– The existence of each language helps to better understand the world in which we live. It is an element of the heritage of humanity – explains Bartłomiej Chromik, an ethnologist from the Faculty of “Artes Liberales”, University of Warsaw, whose research focuses on the revitalisation of dying languages. – Research shows that in communities which speak their mother tongues people are healthier, they don’t suffer from certain civilisation diseases and mental problems so often – adds Chromik.
Exhibitions, concerts and workshops
The Week of Linguistic Diversity will begin on 13th November at 11 am in the lobby of the Warsaw University Library with the opening of the photo exhibition entitled “Linguistic diversity is the cultural wealth of the world”. The event will be accompanied by the performance of a Lemko poet, Petro Murianka. The documentary photos will also be exhibited in the Kazimierzowski Palace on 16th November at 5 pm when the opening of the “Linguistic Diversity Worldwide” exhibition will be accompanied by the performance of a Lemko poet Ołena Duć-Fajfer, who will recite her poems. The exhibition will also feature recordings of poetry in dying languages.
On 15th November at 7.30 pm, the “Fort Sokolnickiego” Art Centre will host an evening of film and music entitled “Voices of diversity”. The guests will have an occasion to listen to the Warsaw dialect as performed by the intergenerational group “Cała Praga Śpiewa” (Whole Praga Sings), cover versions of popular songs in Wymysiöeryś, or folklore performances from the Warmia and Masuria region in modern hybrid arrangements of Ola Turkiewicz, the creator of Arboretum Project. The evening will be concluded with the first screening of the film about Wilamowice – the only town in Poland which has its own language: Wymysiöeryś.
The organizers also plan attractions for the younger audience – preschool (aged 5-6) and school (7-10) children, as well as for youth up to the age of 14. For them on 18th November, there is a workshop entitled “Language surprises from distant lands”, based on children and youth literature written in disappearing languages, among others in Nahuatl (the language of descendants of Aztecs), Buryat (the language of Buryats in Asia) and Wymysiöeryś. The number of seats in the various age groups is limited.
Booking and the full timetable of events are available at engagedhumanities.al.uw.edu.pl
An important European project
The Linguistic Diversity Week is part of the long-term project aimed at the revitalisation of endangered languages, including Wymysiöeryś. The events accompany two academic conferences devoted to the revitalization of endangered languages and workshops for researchers working on this issue. The key to success for these activities was the acquisition of prestigious European grants. The Horizon 2020 Grant was awarded to the international academic consortium under the direction of the “Artes Liberales” Faculty. The project supervisor is Dr. Justyna Olko, the leader of the “Europe and America in Contact” project (funded by the European Research Council). As part of this project, the first European Conference on the Nahua Language and Culture will take place on 17th-18th November.
According to statistics, every 14 days one language dies on Earth. Thanks to the involvement of researchers, local activists and representatives of ethnic and language minorities there is hope the process will be stopped.