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International Conference “Preservation of Languages and Development of Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace: Context, Policies, Practices”

 

On 1–5 July 2019 Yakutsk successfully hosted the world’s biggest international conference “Preservation of Languages and Development of Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace: Context, Policies, Practices”.

 

Over 100 reports were presented at plenary sessions and eight thematic sections held at the Sakha Theatre, in two buildings of the Sakha Government, at the State Assembly of the Republic of Sakha, and the North-Eastern Federal University. Most topical issues of the modern world were discussed by conference participants, including:

 

·         The position and status of various languages of the world (endangered and vulnerable; small, medium and large; minor and dominant; local, regional, official, state, international, etc.) and problems of their preservation

·         Linguistic, sociocultural, political, economic and other contexts of language functioning

·         Development of these languages’ representation in cyberspace: tools, methods, institutes, environment

·         The need to equip languages with modern linguistic technologies (speech recognition, speech synthesis, machine translation, etc.)

·         Languages in education, culture, science, the media, politics, business, tourism, everyday life, etc.)

·         National, regional, international, institutional language policies in various spheres of language functioning

·         Measures taken to preserve various languages and maintain multilingualism in various countries; positive results of implementing such measures in real life and in cyberspace.

 

All these issues were discussed from different perspectives by researchers representing developed and developing countries, where multilingualism exists in various forms and at different levels.

 

The event brought together over 500 experts: public figures, politicians, diplomats, researchers working in the fields of ethnolinguistics, sociolinguistics, ethnopolitology, ethnosociology, cultural anthropology, philosophy, as well specialists in the elaboration and analysis of national and international language policies, educationalists, academics, representatives of cultural institutions and the infocommunication sphere from 63 countries and all world regions (Albania, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Benin, Brazil, Bulgaria, Cameroon, Central African Republic, China (including SAR Hong Kong and SAR Macau), Columbia, Croatia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom, United States of America, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Zambia), as well as UNESCO.

 

The conference was organized by:

  • Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)
  • Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme
  • Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University
  • Interregional Library Cooperation Centre
  • UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism (Brazil)

 

Organizational and financial support to the conference was provided by:

  • Government of the Russian Federation
  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation
  • Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO
  • Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs of the Russian Federation
  • Federal Agency for Print and Mass Communications of the Russian Federation
  • Intergovernmental Foundation for Educational, Scientific and Cultural Cooperation of the CIS (IFESCCO)
  • UNESCO / UNESCO Information for All Programme

 

This conference has become a significant contribution by the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the Russian Federation to the International Year of Indigenous Languages 2019 announced by the UN, as well as to UNESCO’s efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goals, in particular to the implementation of the Information for All Programme (IFAP) – UNESCO’s major intergovernmental programme in the field of information and communication.

 

Holding the conference is also seen as IFAP’s contribution to UNESCO’s activities.

 

It is the fourth major international forum organized in Yakutsk jointly by the Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre, Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University with the support by the Government of the Russian Federation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Commission of the Russian Federation for UNESCO, Russian Federal Agency for Print and Mass Communications and under the auspices of UNESCO.

 

The history of this conference dates back to 2008, when Yakutsk welcomed the first-ever international conference on linguistic and cultural diversity in cyberspace. The event gathered representatives of 15 countries and turned out to be the largest global forum in 2008, which the UN proclaimed to be the International Year of Languages – for the first time ever.

 

The second international conference “Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Cyberspace” was held in Yakutsk in 2011 and could boast of 35 participating countries, and the third edition of the conference, in 2014, was attended by experts from 48 countries.

 

In 2012, on the initiative of Evgeny KUZMIN, who chaired the Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for All Programme from 2010 to 2014, multilingualism was included in the list of priority action lines of IFAP, the only international programme in the world to study the issues of language preservation and linguistic diversity development in cyberspace not independently, but in their close relation to other topical problems of the global information society, such as accessibility and preservation of digital information, media and information literacy, information for development, information ethics.

 

Since 2012, Evgeny KUZMIN has been chairing the IFAP Intergovernmental Council’s Working Group on Preservation of Languages and Development of Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace.

 

In 2014 Yakutsk passed the torch to another Russian city – Khanty-Mansiysk. With the support of the Government of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra three World Expert Meetings on Multilingualism in Cyberspace were held – first at the UNESCO headquarters (Paris) in 2014, and then in Khanty-Mansiysk in 2015 and 2017.

 

In total 10 largest global events on this topic were held in 2008–2018, of which six were initiated by Russia and were organized in the framework of the UNESCO Information for All Programme.

 

The Yakutsk International Conference “Preservation of Languages and Development of Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace: Context, Policies, Practices” attended by representatives of 63 countries, was the seventh for the UNESCO IFAP and for Russia. For now, it is the largest and the most representative international conference ever held in the world on preservation of languages and development of linguistic diversity in cyberspace.

 

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Opening Gala of the International Conference “Preservation of Languages and Development of Linguistic Diversity in Cyberspace: Context, Policies, Practices” took place on July 1, 2019, at the Sakha Theatre, and was moderated by Evgeny KUZMIN, Chair, International Conference Organising Committee, Vice-Chair, Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP); hair, IFAP Working Group on Multilingualism; Chair, Russian IFAP Committee; President, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre.

 

Conference organizers, participants and guests were greeted:

On behalf of the Sakha Government – by Aisen NIKOLAEV, Head of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia),

 

On behalf of Valentina Matvienko, Chair of the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly – by Alexandr AKIMOV, Member, Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly; Chair, Arctic and Antarctic Council under the Federation Council of the Russian Federal Assembly,

 

On behalf of Sergey Lavrov, Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs – by Aysa MUKABENOVA, Senior Counsellor, Department for Humanitarian Cooperation and Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation; Member, UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues; Member, UNESCO Steering Committee for the Organization of the 2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

 

On behalf of Igor Barinov, Head of the Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs – by Timur TSYBIKOV, Deputy Head, Department for Strengthening National Unity and Preventing Ethnic and Religious Extremism, Federal Agency for Ethnic Affairs

 

On behalf of the Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for All Programme – by Dorothy GORDON, Chair, Intergovernmental Council, UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP)

 

Six keynotes were presented at the Conference Opening Gala:

 

Moez CHAKCOUK, UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information

Multilingualism and Sustainable Development Goals for Building Knowledge Societies

 

Vladimir SOLODOV, Chair, Government of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia)

Wealth and Diversity of Languages and Cultures of the Peoples of Sakha (Yakutia): Past, Present, Future

 

Ibrahim ALBALAWI, Ambassador, Permanent Delegate of Saudi Arabia to UNESCO

Preserving Languages and Developing Linguistic Diversity: Connecting Languages for a Shared Future

 

Evgenia MIKHAILOVA, Rector, Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University

Preservation and Development of Cultural and Linguistic Diversity for Sustainable Development: Joining Efforts with Universities Worldwide

 

Evgeny KUZMIN, Vice-Chair, Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP); hair, IFAP Working Group on Multilingualism; Chair, Russian IFAP Committee; President, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre

Language Problems of the World from the Perspective of the UNESCO Information for All Programme

 

Gilvan MULLER DE OLIVEIRA, Professor, Federal University of Santa Catarina; Head, UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism

Geopolitics of Languages

 

For July 2 and 3 the format of section work was chosen:

 

Ø  Section 1. Language Policies and Globalization: Challenges and Opportunities. Five sessions of this section were moderated by Dorothy GORDON, Chair, Intergovernmental Council, UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP) (Accra, Ghana); Andrei KIBRIK, Director, Institute of Linguistics, Russian Academy of Sciences (Moscow, Russia); Dunja BROZOVIC′-RONČEVIĆ, Professor, Department of Ethnology and Anthropology; Head, Adriatic Onomastic Research Centre, University of Zadar (Zadar, Croatia); Nadezhda ZAIKOVA, Vice-Rector, Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University (Yakutsk, Russia); Francisco MATSINHE, Honorary Professor, Institute for African Renaissance Studies (IARS), University of South Africa (Maputu, Mozambique).

 

Ø  Section 2. Languages in Education. Two sessions were moderated by Elizaveta KHAMRAYEVA, Chair, Department of Russian as a Foreign Language, Moscow Pedagogical State University (Moscow, Russia), and Feodosiya GABYSHEVA, Chair, Standing Committee on Science, Education, Culture, Media and Public Organizations, State Assembly (Il Tumen) of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) (Yakutsk, Russia).

 

Ø  Section 3. Building Language Resources had three sessions, chaired by Gilvan MULLER DE OLIVEIRA, Professor, Federal University of Santa Catarina; Head, UNESCO Chair on Language Policies for Multilingualism (Florianopolis, Brazil), Anna FENYVESI, Associate Professor; Director, Institute of English and American Studies, University of Szeged (Szeged, Hungary), and Claudio MENEZES, Adjunt Professor, University of Brasilia; Coordinator, Nucleous for Portuguese Teaching and Research for Foreigners (Brasilia, Brazil).

 

Ø  Two sessions of Section 4. Multilingualism in the Russian Federation were moderated by Anuradha KANNIGANTI, Lecturer, French National Institute of Oriental Languages (Paris/Hyderabad, France/India) and Evgeny GOLOVKO, Director, Institute of Linguistic Studies, Russian Academy of Sciences (Saint Petersburg, Russia).

 

Ø  Galit WELLNER, Senior Lecturer, Tel Aviv University (Tel Aviv, Israel), and Prabhakar Rao JANDHYALA, Professor & Director, e-Learning Centre, University of Hyderabad (Hyderabad, India), were moderators of Section 5. Languages and Communication: Philosophical and Historical Perspectives.

 

Ø  Section 6. Russia’s Circumpolar Languages. Two sessions within this section were moderated by Alexei TSYKAREV, Chair, Young Karelia Centre for the Support of Indigenous Peoples and Public Diplomacy; Member, UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Petrozavodsk, Russia), and Sergey BAKEYKIN, Vice-Chair, Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme; Executive Director, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre (Moscow, Russia).

 

Ø  Section 7. Public activism and Language Policies also had two sessions chaired by Daniel SIKAZWE, Executive Secretary, Pen Zambia (Lusaka, Zambia), and Anastasia PARSHAKOVA, Deputy Director, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre; Project Coordinator, Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (Saint Petersburg, Russia).

 

Ø  Section 8. Languages and the Media was moderated by Tatiana MUROVANA, Programme Specialist, UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education; Executive Secretary, Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme (Moscow, Russia).

 

Conference closing plenary chaired by Evgeny KUZMIN and Gilvan MULLER DE OLIVEIRA took place on 4 July, at the Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University.

 

CONFERENCE PROGRAMME (download)

 

Andrei PETROV, Adviser to the Minister of Education of the Russian Federation read the greeting by the Education Minister Olga Vasilieva. After the speech by Evgenia MIKHAILOVA, Rector of the Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University, section moderators and other conference participants were given the floor.

 

Draft final document prepared by Gilvan MULLER DE OLIVEIRA was also discussed at the conference closing plenary. The document will be finalized by an international working group and published in the nearest future.

 

An agreement was signed at the conference on scientific cooperation between the Ammosov North-Eastern Federal University, Surazakova Altaic Research Institute, Institute of Applied Semiotics of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tatarstan, Institute of History, Language and Literature of the Ufa Federal Research Centre of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Institute of Language and Literature of the Academy of Sciences of Mongolia.

 

The National Library of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and the North-Eastern Federal University prepared exhibitions of books and publications in the Yakut language and the languages of the small indigenous peoples of the North, and books on Yakutia in Russian and other languages published by Yakut publishing houses to be deployed at the Sakha Theatre during the conference.

 

The exhibition of publications by the Russian Committee of the UNESCO Information for All Programme and its working body, Interregional Library Cooperation Centre, included about 100 books in Russian and English on the challenges of the global information society and in particular about 30 books on multilingualism issues.