Global Justice for Indigenous Languages (III of IV)

During the final hour of our Global Justice for Indigenous Languages Symposium, I was keeping track of the attendees who had raised their hand to ask a question or make a comment and making sure that they had the microphone—after all, one of the issues that kept coming up that day was the unethical practices…

Ethics of the Untranslatable: Role of Public Policies in Creating Justice for Indigenous Languages (II of IV)

Part II of our UN Forum series on Global Justice for Indigenous Languages In his impassioned speech during the first session of our symposium, Chief Wilton Littlechild described the trauma of his upbringing in at the Ermineskin Indian Residential School in Maskwacis, Alberta. These schools, which Chief Littlechild described as a “legislative form of assimilation,” were…

UN Forum: Global Justice for Indigenous Languages (I of IV)

On April 21, 2018, the GLJ initiative partnered with the United Nations to hold a symposium titled “Global Justice for Indigenous Languages.”  As 2019 is the UN-declared Year of Indigenous Languages, the event seemed fitting for something held a year in advance: a gathering of leaders in language revitalization, indigenous rights, and UN policy-makers to…

Workshop on Multilingual Spaces: City, Classroom, and Cyberspace

On March 28, 2018, the GLJ group conducted a public workshop for the learning community at Columbia University on the issue of multilingual spaces.  How exactly does language structure space, both in the city that we inhabit and in the classrooms in which we teach?  What about the digital spaces of the internet and social…

Language Preservation through Character Encoding

What is Unicode? And how can it help in the quest to preserve the endangered languages of the world? Before February 15, 2018, I had a partial answer to the first of these two questions. I had heard the name “Unicode” and had a vague idea of what it was. But I had no idea…

Capital-Language-Environment: Thoughts on “Language Justice inside the Doughnut”

    “The Ebola crisis was not just a health crisis, but a communication crisis,” explained Dr. Suzanne Romaine in her January lecture to the Sawyer Seminar on “Linguistic diversity and sustainability: Global language justice inside the doughnut.” Since only twenty percent of the Liberian population speaks English, she continued, posters meant to raise awareness…

Further Readings on Language Justice

Looking to become more familiar with language justice issues?  The following is a master list of literary resources, scholarly and otherwise, compiled by Lee Abraham, Lecturer and Language Program director at Columbia University.  Like the earlier list of organizations working explicitly on language justice issues, this list is meant to be  browsed, read, and shared.  If…

Accentuated Experiences: Memories from a Multilingual Childhood

I was about four when I heard a foreign language for the first time. It was on a lazy winter afternoon, during the time of day when adults drowse on the sofa and zestful kids are left on their own. I was playing in the back patio at my grandparent’s house when the neighbor’s granddaughter…

Language Justice in News/Documentaries

Looking for where language justice issues are cropping up in media?  Or looking for ways to get involved in your local community?  Here is a list of resources compiled by Lee Abraham, Lecturer and Language Program director at Columbia University.  Feel free to browse, watch, and share.  If you have thoughts, we’d love to hear…

Mapping, Naming, and Language Justice in the Digital Sphere

Before the advent of social media, when people used to share jokes and petitions and good luck symbols via chain e-mails, I remember periodically receiving e-mails about signing a petition to preserve the name of the “Persian Gulf” and preventing its name change to the “Arabian Gulf.” More often than not, the culprit was Google—that…