Around 40 percent of the more than 7,000 languages spoken globally are considered endangered. Among the strategies being employed by Indigenous communities is the use of digital technologies to enhance the learning and promotion of their languages. Creating a new generation of young speakers is especially crucial, as according to UNESCO's Language Vitality and Endangerment scale, intergenerational transmission and the use of a language in new domains are key factors in determining a language's health.
This special episode of Global Voices Insights was recorded live on July 13 (July 14 for audiences in Oceania) and brought together the following language advocates and activists from Australia and Mexico to talk about their experiences.
Organized by Global Voices’ Rising Voices initiative and First Languages Australia with the support of the Embassy of Australia in Mexico, the session featured the following:
Annalee Pope: Annalee is Wakka Wakka woman from Central Queensland, Australia. Annalee began working to revive and strengthen Aboriginal languages in 2013, when she became the Coordinator of the Central Queensland Language Centre. Annalee joined First Languages Australia as a project officer on the Priority Languages Support Project, and then got involved with First languages Australia’s Young Champions program when it began in 2013. She has since become a mentor for young language champions.
Joaquín Yescas Martínez: Joaquín is a Zapoteco Xhidza man from Oaxaca, Mexico, co-founder of the Xhidza Collective and Coordinator of Xhidza Telecommunications, founder and coordinator of the Xhidza Penguin School, and technician and audiovisual producer at Radio Bëë Xhidza. Joaquín is an activist for indigenous languages, Free Software, free culture, hacker ethics and community philosophy.
Maria Lilia Hau Ucan: Maria is originally from Kinil, Yucatan, Mexico. A lawyer by training, she has worked as a teacher, speaker, translator, interpreter and collaborator on different projects with community and revitalization approaches focused on the Mayan language and culture.
Rachel Dikul Baker: Dikul is a Yolŋu woman from the Northern Territory in Australia. When she's not traveling the world running marathons, she mentors other young Yolŋu women, helping them build resilience and self-esteem and identify career pathways that fulfil their potential. Dikul’s role at ARDS Aboriginal Corporation involves documenting Yolŋu languages, cross-cultural facilitation and translation, broadcasting on Yolŋu Radio and language literacy activities. She speaks Djambarrbuyngu and four other Yolŋu languages.
Isela Xospa (Moderator): Isela is a designer, illustrator, and editor, originally from the Milpa Alta in the Nahua southeast region of Mexico City. She has worked for the Fondo de Cultura Económica, ILCE México and the David Bowie Archive, and is the founder of Ediciones Xospatronik, where she writes, illustrates, and edits books for children and young people in indigenous languages.
The episode replay is also available with Spanish and English voiceover.