June 2014

Speaking out for a multilingual world



The world's 7,000 languages are facing a decline more rapid than, and potentially as damaging as, the planet's endangered species. With the last speakers of up to half of the world's languages already alive today, linguists fear that within two centuries we could all be speaking one global tongue.

Yet language matters more than you might think: at the micro level (being a polyglot is good for the brain!) and at the macro level (the fate of our languages is inextricably linked to global sustainability). The languages we speak shape who we are and how we see the world, and are a conduit for and repository of our history, culture, traditions and faith. Their power and importance are reflected in the pains taken by repressive and colonizing regimes over the centuries to silence them.

The decline in the world's languages must be reversed, and we all have
a responsibility to join the fi ght. This month’s New Internationalist
issues a call to arms-and tongues.










Stories making the news this month
6 Canada: ‘How did our community survive this?’
6 Jamaica seeks slavery reparations
7 Binning the plastic bag
7 France’s wine rebel
7 Reintroducing Abdelaziz Bouteflika
8 Syria’s electronic battlefield
8 Unlikely squatters in Spain
9 Big Tobacco takes a tumble in Senegal
9 United States: weed-killing breast milk?
PLUS: Scratchy Lines by cartoonist Simon Kneebone and Reasons to be Cheerful.

The Big Story
Endangered languages
10 Talking about a revolution
Jo Lateu explains why the world’s minority languages matter for all of us - and why we should be fighting for their survival.

15 Voices under the ice
Musings and memories from poet Nora Marks Dauenhauer, who has dedicated her life to preserving the Tlingit language.

16 ‘They nicknamed me Terrorist’
After a century of oppression, is the Kurdish language finally gaining official recognition in Turkey? asks Naila Bozo.

18 Languages big and small - THE FACTS

20 Marni naa pudni Kaurna yarta-ana (Welcome to Kaurna country)
In the Adelaide plains, one Aboriginal language is enjoying an unlikely revival, explains Katrina Power.

22 Up and down
Winners and losers in the rollercoaster ride of language survival.

23 Of speech and species
The ongoing vitality of minority languages is a must if our planet is to survive, argues Suzanne Romaine.

28 Valeria’s story
Anne Hoffman hears about the struggle for reproductive rights in Chile.
Mixed Media
34 Film reviews
Jimmy’s Hall, directed by Ken Loach; Of Horses and Men, directed and written by Benedikt Erlingsson

35 Music reviews
Toumani & Sidiki by Toumani Diabate and Sidiki Diabate; La Tsadika by Mor

36 Book reviews
I Am China by Xiaolu Guo; Foreign Gods, Inc by Okey Ndibe; The Hunt for the Golden Mole by Richard Girling; The Secret World of Oil by Ken Silverstein

PLUS: Also out there…

31 Steve Parry
Corporate whore, moi?
PLUS: Polyp’s Big Bad World cartoon.

33 Mark Engler
America after Piketty’s charge.

4 Letters
Western arrogance; Paul Simon; and beyond totalitarianism.

5 Letter from Bangui
There is no easy getaway for the tens of thousands of internal refugees camping near the airport, says Ruby Diamonde.

26 Country Profile: Israel

30 Making Waves
Hjalmar Jorge Joffre-Eichhorn talks to Lydia James about Afghanistan’s Theatre of the Oppressed.

32 Southern Exposure
Azhar A Rahim captures a moment of play in a mosque in Kuala Lumpur.

38 And Finally
Award-winning novelist Xiaolu Guo talks to Graeme Green about literature, materialism and growing up in rural China.




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