2012: Jon Landaburu Illaramendi

Photograph by Jaime Acuña Lezama. Ministerio de Cultura, Colombia

Jon Landaburu Illarramendi (1943), Basque with French and Colombian nationality is a leading specialist in the field of indigenous languages in Colombia. With over 40 years of experience in the field, he has combined professional dedication with personal engagement in his work promoting linguistic diversity and linguistics ecologies in Colombia. He has come to be a key name in their protection and revitalization.

His academic career spans two continents. Between 1983 and 1996 he supervised research, was professor and coordinator of scientific investigation in both France and Colombia. He holds a PhD in Humanities from Paris Sorbonne University (1976) and was director emeritus at the Scientific Research at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France. He founded and directed the master’s degree in Ethnolinguistics at the University of the Andes in Colombia.

Landaburu has also been a driving force in the promotion of study programs and revitalization efforts for indigenous languages within the Colombian government. He has worked tirelessly on many regional initiatives such as translating the Colombian constitution into several indigenous languages, training native leaders and teachers between 2007 and 2010, and directing a political-administrative center, which in collaboration with the Program for the Protection of the Ethnolinguistic Diversity (PPDE) of the Ministry of Culture, made way for the Colombian Native Languages Act (2009), which granted 68 languages (65 native languages, 2 creoles and Romany) special legal instruments to stimulate their preservation and revitalization.

His main fields of research are theoretical and applied linguistics, ethnolinguistics and sociolinguistics, which have led to the publication of numerous research papers, over 15 books and a multitude of scientific articles, as well as the supervision of master theses and doctoral dissertations.

Jon Landaburu continues to advise local and international institutions and his cooperation and expertise is frequently sought by indigenous communities.

The Linguapax Award recognizes Jon Landaburu’s human and professional contributions to the life of Colombia’s linguistic heritage, a work which is precious to everyone working for the world’s languages and paramount for a society of coexistence and genuine communication.

The Award Ceremony took place in Barcelona on the 21st May 2012.