2018

Inky Gibbens

CEO & Founder 

United Kingdom

From November 12 to November 19, 2018 

Biography —

Having grown up in Mongolia into a multicultural family, she has always been an advocate of multilingualism. She studied Modern Languages for her undergraduate degree and subsequently went on to do an MA in the Social and Political Sciences at Glasgow University and MRes in Anthropology at Aberdeen University, focusing on the Buryats in Siberia. It was during this time, that she became aware that the language and culture of my grandparents, Buryat, were classified as endangered by UNESCO, which turned her from an advocate into an activist. Horrified at the thought that the culture of my ancestors may soon die out, she decided that she would pursue an academic career in language endangerment and policy. However, after two years, she realised that tools to enable learning more rapidly were a mission piece of the puzzle and so decided to create Tribalingual from within the University of Cambridge in order to tackle the problem of language death. 

Project —

Tribalingual is an online learning platform that enables speakers to teach their dying or neglected tongues and cultures to willing students around the world. 

By the end of this century, half of the world’s languages will have disappeared. 

One well-used tool to tackle language extinction is language documentation, where linguists record languages for preservation. This process plays a crucial role in preservation. But, true language preservation must make efforts to increase the number of speakers of endangered languages too.

Activists support promote language policies to encourage language learning but are often hindered by the lack of infrastructure able to support learners and teachers. Similarly many creators of language learning are unable to reach audiences owing to this dearth of infrastructure.

We built Tribalingual following the insight that recreational learners want to learn rare and endangered languages and cultures. By doing so, we connect the dots between academic linguists, language activists and creators to enable this community of language supporters to work together to keep languages alive. 

We allow speakers on one continent (e.g. Quechua speakers in Peru) to teach learners on another, with the ultimate aim being to create a financially self-sustaining organisation that promotes the learning of rare and endangered languages and cultures and also providing income to speakers of these languages.