A Festival for the World's Rarest Languages


Nov 6, 2014 9:35:44 PM / by Katharine Allen & Barry S. Olsen


Published: 28 June 2013


From National Geographic News Watch...


Article excerpt: This Wednesday, June 26, the National Mall in Washington D.C. will go from open field to bustling international village as the annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival opens to the public. One of the three major themes this year is “One World, Many Voices,” put on in partnership with National Geographic’s Enduring Voices Project. Representatives of some of the world’s most endangered languages will be leaving remote villages around the world and gathering in the U.S. capitol for ten days of cultural celebration and dialogue.

K. David Harrison is one of the curators of the festival, and a director of the Enduring Voices project says "I’m excited that at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival we will be creating one of the most linguistically diverse spots on the planet, for ten days. Come down to the Mall and you’ll hear languages that have been spoken in North America since ancient times, like Penobscot (Maine) and Siletz Dee-ni (Oregon). And there will be speakers of languages that have never before been heard or spoken here, like Koro (India), and Kallawaya (Bolivia)." 


Link to the full news story here.


InterpretAmerica's take: Last Friday we highlighted the amazing skill set required by American Sign Language interpreters who take on challenging assignments, such as signing for a rapid-fire hip hop artist. This Friday the spotlight is on another kind of cultural event relevant to interpreting, The annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival is dedicating one of its three theme tracks to shine a light on the plight of the thousands of endangered  languages around the world, "One world', Many Voices." Even if you are an interpreter for a commonly used language such as Spanish, you can to relate to the critical importance of maintaining our linguistic heritage and practice regardless of language. After reading the NatGeo article, be sure to check out the One World, Many Voices webpage for the event itself. The pictures and descriptions of these far-flung native cultures are stunning. 

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