Matthias Brenzinger, winner of the International Linguapax Award 2017


This year, among the 24 applications received from around the world, the international Jury made up of 40 experts elected Matthias Brenzinger, a renowned German scholar, expert in African languages, pioneer in the study of endangered languages and a major promoter of linguistic revitalisation. Brenzinger stands out for combining first-rate research, advice, awareness and fieldwork, in Africa and Asia.

Author of reference books on endangered languages, he has participated in the three editions of the UNESCO Atlas of Endangered Languages, has developed assessment tools and practical guides to initiate revitalisation programs, as well as educational materials and curricula, always with a passion for languages and compassion for the linguistic communities.

A promoter of countless projects, studies and initiatives, in 2012 he created the Centre for African Linguistic Diversity (CALDI) at the University of Cape Town to foster the sustainability of linguistic diversity on the continent, supporting the communities that most need it. As a sample, he has recently presented a trilingual book on the NIuu language, with only three speakers left, originally planned as a teaching manual “which empowers communities and benefits scholarship”.

Brenzinger was also a visiting professor at the universities of Tokyo and Kyoto where he collaborated with Japanese Africanists, but also with academics and activists supporting the revitalisation of Ryukyuan (Japan) and Jejueo (South Korea) who “owe much to his engagement”.

The award ceremony took place within the framework of Linguapax’s 30th anniversary celebrations (1987-2017) on November 23 at Casa de Convalescència. Read the speeches here.


Video of the ceremony available here

  • Documents of support to Brenzinger’s candidacy:

Matthias Brenzinger – Letter of motivation

Attachment I – How I became a linguist

Attachment II – M. Brenzinger CV