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Awakening Dreaming Beauties: Language Reclamation and Social Wellbeing

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Abstract: This lecture will explain why language revival and diversity are (1) right, (2) beautiful, and (3) beneficial. In our globalized world, more and more groups are losing their heritage. Language reclamation (e.g. Hebrew, Barngarla), revitalization (e.g. Te Reo Māori) and reinvigoration (e.g. Welsh) are becoming increasingly relevant as more and more people seek to reconnect with their ancestors, recover their cultural autonomy, empower their spiritual and intellectual sovereignty, and improve their wellbeing and mental health. There is an urgent need to offer comparative insights, for example from the Hebrew revival, which is so far the most successful known linguistic reclamation.

Given capricious governmental policies, this lecture will propose compensation (for linguistic activities) for peoples whose mother tongue was killed (due to linguicide), making Indigenous tongues the official languages of their region, and erecting multi-lingual official signs, changing the lanGscape (linguistic landscape).

The lecture will introduce Revivalistics, a new trans-disciplinary field of enquiry, and provide examples from all over the globe, e.g. from the reclamation of the Barngarla Aboriginal language in South Australia.

About the speaker: Professor Ghil‘ad Zuckermann (DPhil Oxford; PhD Cambridge, incorporated; MA Tel Aviv, summa cum laude) is Chair of Linguistics and Endangered Languages at the University of Adelaide. He is the author of the seminal bestseller Israelit Safa Yafa (Israeli – A Beautiful Language; Am Oved, 2008), Language Contact and Lexical Enrichment in Israeli Hebrew (Palgrave Macmillan, 2003), three chapters of the Israeli Tingo (Keren, 2011), Engaging – A Guide to Interacting Respectfully and Reciprocally with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and their Arts Practices and Intellectual Property (2015) and the first online Dictionary of the Barngarla Aboriginal Language (2016). He is the editor of Burning Issues in Afro-Asiatic Linguistics (2012), Jewish Language Contact (2014), a special issue of the International Journal of the Sociology of Language, and the co-editor of Endangered Words, Signs of Revival (2014). He is the founder of Revivalistics, a new trans-disciplinary field of enquiry surrounding language reclamation, revitalization and reinvigoration. He has launched, with the Barngarla Aboriginal communities of Eyre Peninsula, South Australia, the reclamation of the Barngarla language. Professor Zuckermann is elected member of the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and the Foundation for Endangered Languages (FEL). He is a chief investigator in a large research project assessing language revival and mental health, funded by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). He was President of AustraLex in 2013-2015, Australian Research Council (ARC) Discovery Fellow in 2007–2011, and Gulbenkian Research Fellow at Churchill College Cambridge in 2000-2004. He has been Consultant and Expert Witness in (corpus) lexicography and (forensic) linguistics, in court cases all over the globe. He has been Distinguished Visiting Professor at Shanghai International Studies University and taught at the University of Cambridge, University of Queensland, National University of Singapore, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, East China Normal University, Shanghai International Studies University, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Miami University. He has been Research Fellow at the Weizmann Institute of Science; Tel Aviv University; Rockefeller Foundation’s Study and Conference Center, Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio, Italy; Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, University of Texas at Austin; Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Institute for Advanced Study, La Trobe University; Institute of Linguistics, Shanghai International Studies University; and Kokuritsu Kokugo Kenkyūjo, National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics, Tokyo. He has been Denise Skinner Scholar at St Hugh’s College Oxford, Scatcherd European Scholar at the University of Oxford, and scholar at the United World College of the Adriatic (Italy). His MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), Language Revival: Securing the Future of Endangered Languages, has so far attracted 7,000 students from 150 countries.

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