Coinciding with the International Mother Language Day, we are pleased to announce that the International Linguapax Award 2018 goes to BASAbali, a “collaboration of linguists, anthropologists, students, and laypeople, from within and outside of Bali, who are collaborating to keep Balinese strong and sustainable”.
In words of BASAbali’s founding director, Alissa Stern, “BASAbali is founded in the belief that all languages, but most importantly a language of a great culture such as Balinese, deserve recognition and use in the modern world — and not be relegated to a language of rural farmers or a language of home, not worthy of activities associated with learning, public affairs and local educational and political practices. The aim, in short, is to develop facilities that will enable Balinese and other local languages to occupy a position of prestige alongside modern national and international languages and to carry forward their rich cultural traditions.”
Using the Balinese language as a model for other language communities, the BASAbali collaboration is pioneering a language revitalization methodology that is predicated on the belief linguistic diversity is paramount to human sustainability and will require a significant shift in how we value local languages, especially in today’s digital world.
Since its inception in 2011,the BASAbali collaboration has developed programs that have produced critical resources while involving important segments of the Balinese intelligentsia and international language advocates in propelling the Balinese language into becoming a language that is valued within the Balinese community and within the modern world. For example, BASAbali translated Google’s Home page into the Balinese language, symbolically and literally placing Balinese amongst modern international languages; they created interactive multimedia software to teach Balinese in a modern engaging way, they secured a local government mandate for using Balinese on Fridays and carried out many other grass-roots effortsto motivate and institutionalise the use of Balinese in both the local and international communities.
One their major achievements is the BASAbali wiki, a combination trilingual multi-media reference dictionary, encyclopedia, and digital library of traditional texts, modern Balinese literature and photographs, many of which are not otherwise available on line. BASAbali Wiki is also working with academics and government appointed “Language Ambassadors” to contextualize indigenous medicinal wisdom from traditional palm leaf manuscripts with modern usage via videos contributed by villagers and by professional videographers; and BASAbali Wiki also provides a platform for a new genre of modern Balinese literature and encourages people to write in Balinese and to share their work in order to encourage others to follow suit.
Let us recall that UNESCO proclaimed February 21 as the International Mother Day in 1999 with the aim of preserving linguistic diversity and promoting mother tongue-based multilingual education. Linguapax seizes this opportunity to proclaim the name of the winner of its yearly International Award granted as a tribute to outstanding action carried out in different areas in favour of the preservation of linguistic diversity, revitalization and reactivation of linguistic communities and the promotion of multilingualism.
This year, the jury of the award, formed of the members of the Linguapax Board and international Advisory Board as well as the delegates of the Linguapax International Network, chose BASAbali among 18 eligible candidates from all continents. The date of the delivery ceremony is still to be confirmed.
For further information on BASABali: www.basabali.org