» Skip to content

Published: 22 April 2023

By Andy Ross

Recent articles

View all stories

The importance of language

The richness of the world's linguistic diversity should be celebrated but language has often been used as a tool in the subjugation of people.  

In many parts of the world, language and dialects have often intentionally been suppressed in favour of that of the incoming culture, alienating people from their own culture.  Now, as people look to strengthening cultures that have been undermined, new ways of teaching and supporting culture through language are being tried. In Canada, for example, the Mohawk language, Kanyen’keha, is coming back with the introduction of classes and lessons and different ways of teaching. For some languages, there are so few speakers left that it is almost impossible to save them, but they can be conserved as audio and filmed records, and some are even trying to use a rare language so that  it does not disappear. Shetlanders remember when speaking the dialect at school was a punishable offence but now there is a pride in being able to speak it, as you can see in the short film below. Since 1975, Aotearoa New Zealand has celebrated Maori language Week, Maori being one of the two official languages of the country, the other being New Zealand Sign Language. There are online dictionaries and resources to support languages and dialects too. providing a useful and enduring too to ensure that these things survive and thrive. 

As we all learn how to adjust our thinking to create more inclusive societies, isn't it great that languages are being revived and celebrated?