Linguistic Diversity

November 2018


Languages awaken many kinds of enthusiasm. From intellectual exaltation of a linguist who sets out to arrange a language not yet described into the form of an ordered grammar to enthusiasm that manifests itself in creation by means of the word, which is perceived as an electric vehicle of art and emotion, to tenacious curiosity of many amateurs of linguistic diversity as one of the richest and most challenging manifestations of human diversity.

However, this linguistic diversity, the driving force behind cultural diversity, what does it really include? It is not only languages as presented in grammars, dictionaries and textbooks for ‘language learning’. Linguistic diversity also includes various ways in which the cognitive system filters out the sensory disorder with which the world reaches us and arranges space, time, number, different perspectives of human action and of the very concept of the person. Moreover, it is the interrelationship between language, body and mind (spirit) according to each culture; multiple ways of relating language and identity and also of conceiving communication and even conversation. In short, it includes all different manifestations of human imagination in its interaction with the planet, where it lives and co-creates.

How can all this potential for knowledge and creation latent in linguistic diversity be made operational? How to make this a productive source of our imagination and of our social and political creativity?

There is a fascination around the worlds that create languages and the languages that create worlds in view of the observer. Thus we find a literal manifestation of the reciprocal construction of worlds and languages in cases such as Klingon, Na’vi or Dothraki, among others. The fact that languages create unique worlds is not new for people and organizations around the world working to preserve and revitalize languages historically rooted to life of human communities. The activation of languages, big or small, is a motor of contemporary culture, not a mere trace of some museified past. It is the whole capital of knowledge and versions of human relationality that disappears every time a language disappears. At the same time, the planet’s major cities are also privileged observatories of human communication and language avatars in environments of high linguistic and cultural diversity.

We would like to deal with all these theoretical, critical and creative questions in the residence Languages, worlds and action. FABER presents this initiative in collaboration with LINGUAPAX, a UNESCO consultative body working for linguistic diversity around the world. The initiative aims at addressing the scope and the potential of linguistic diversity by bringing together activists in the defence of cultural and linguistic diversity; agents of revitalisation and critical anthropology; linguists and anthropologists; theorists who investigate how languages generate different systems of meaning, as well as the diversity of communicative cultures, and creative people who use language as an artistic subject from different angles (invented languages that create worlds, verbal art, etc.).

After sharing a week at FABER Residency, during which visitors and observers are expected to attend, and after disseminating their projects in cultural and educational centres in Olot, the participants will present the contents and projects of the Languages, worlds and action residence within the framework of the international meeting organised by LINGUAPAX on 20 and 21 November at the Centre for Contemporary Culture in Barcelona.