Over the last decades, any time we have wanted to look at languages from the world perspective, we have usually polarised the debate between two big themes:

  • How to preserve and revitalise world linguistic diversity, threatened by an extinction rate of roughly 90% during this century;
  • How to achieve optimal communication conditions in the globalised world, i.e. a whole set of debates ranging from old controversies on all sort of subordination effects triggered by international, traditional linguae francae, to the more optimistic tone of the technological domain and the new frontiers that it opens, on an ongoing basis, for human communication.

What is the outcome of more than two decades of awareness-raising on the value of linguistic diversity?

Where do we stand now with regard to the knowledge and attitudes of the world population about human linguistic heritage?

What future can we expect from current trends? Is English the last lingua franca?

Today, the linguistic landscapes of the world are permanently in flux. How will emerging scenarios of human communication impact our conception and experience of languages?

How can we move from the previous debates to the active integration of the world’s languages into the imagination of the world? As M.L. Pratt puts it, “I have begun to suspect that the absence of reflection on language is a condition of possibility for the knowledge-makers of globalization, the foundational silence that makes it possible for globalization to be imagined as it is being imagined” (“Travelling Languages: Toward A Geolinguistic Imagination,” 2013).

After three decades working for linguistic revitalisation and the promotion of multilingualism, Linguapax proposes a debate on those essential issues above. Why? In order to revisit, and potentially update, long held assumptions. And in order to explore emerging ways to optimise our work for languages.


8.30h: Registration.

9.00h: Official opening.

  • Mònica Pereña, president of Linguapax.
  • Representatives of Generalitat de Catalunya and Diputació de Barcelona.

9.25h: 30 years of Linguapax

  • Fèlix Martí, cofounder of Linguapax.
  • Irmgarda Kasinskaite-Buddeberg, Knowledge Societies Division, Communication and Information Sector, UNESCO.
  • Address by Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, former President of Iceland, goodwill ambassador for the languages ​​of UNESCO, honorary president of the Linguapax Advisory Board, introducing the Vigdís International Centre for Multilingualism and Intercultural Understanding (UNESCO Category 2 Centre, Reykjavík).

10.15h: Presentation of the conference.

  • Alícia Fuentes-Calle, director of Linguapax.

10.35h: Coffee break

11.00h: Two main approaches to world linguistic diversity. Current state of affairs and prospective:

  • Chair: Emili Boix, professor of sociolinguistics at the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics, Universitat de Barcelona, Member of the Linguapax board.
  • Engaging revitalisation: academia and beyond. Peter Austin. Department of Linguistics, SOAS, University of London.
  • Linguae francae vis-à-vis contemporary geocultural contexts and communication environmentsNicholas Ostler. Scholar, author, chair of the Foundation for Endangered Languages.
  • Questions from the audience.

13.00h: Lunch break

14.00 h: Visit to the Sant Pau Art Nouveau site, World Heritage Site (previous registration is required).

15.30h: Human Linguistics

  • Chair: Miquel Strubell, sociolinguist, member of the Linguapax board, chair of the Fundació Congrés de Cultura Catalana.
  • Sinfree Makoni, Pennsylvania State University.
  • Questions from the audience.

16.30h: Emerging scenarios in human communication: What new forms and representations  of language?

  • Chair: Xavier Vila, associate professor at the Department of Catalan Philology and General Linguistics, Universitat de Barcelona
  • Kamran Khan. Universitat de Lleida, The responsibilisation of citizenship: monolingual tests and multilingual citizens.
  • Eddie Avila. Rising Voices (Global Voices). Language and knowledge diversity in the digital media: How indigenous digital activists are leveraging the internet to revitalize their native languages.
  • Susan C. Herring. School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University Bloomington. Emergent forms related to digital, computer- mediated communication.
  • Questions from the audience.

18.30h: Musical performance by De Calaix

19.00h: 2017 International Linguapax Award ceremony, Matthias Brenzinger.

  • Mònica Pereña, president of Linguapax.
  • Felip Roca, Ajuntament de Barcelona, International Relations and Cooperation
  • Glossa by Bernd Heine, Universität zu Köln.
  • Glossa by M. Carme Junyent, Universitat de Barcelona, director of GELA.
  • Matthias Brenzinger, director of CALDI, Centre for African Language Diversity University of Cape Town.

20.00h / End of conference.



Available on Youtube or through our Linguapax Review 2017