Rob Amery


Language is commonly thought of as a means of communication and only as a means of communication, in the narrow sense of the word. Many English-speaking countries expect the rest of the World to learn and speak English and fail to consider a need for any other language. And there is a growing trend in countries like Indonesia, to see the national language as sufficient for all internal purposes, supplemented by English for higher education and international purposes (trade, tourism, diplomacy etc.). Little attention is paid to ethnic, minority, Indigenous or local languages, and their contribution is not highly valued. So why should we care about this latter group of languages, that are neither national or international languages, even though some, like Javanese or Telegu, are actually very large languages. This presentation will explore reasons why local languages are important and why they should be supported. One’s own language is key to identity. Each language is a storehouse of knowledge with its own genius and specific areas of elaboration. Each language embodies a particular worldview and cannot be fully captured through translation into another. It’s maintenance or revival has implications for the development of self-esteem, cultural pride, participation and performance in education and contributes to health and well-being.


Indigenous languages; local languages; endangered languages; minority languages; linguistic diversity; language shift

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