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Information technologies the focus of International Mother Language Day 2011

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International Mother Language Day – 21 February 2011

by A. Drame

Linguistic diversity is dwindling fast. Already, half of the world’s 6,000 languages are endangered, according to official UNESCO figures.

While the Internet is now the major driving force when it comes to the spreading of information, knowledge and culture, it is dominated by very few languages, like English, French, Spanish or Chinese. Even languages which are spoken by millions of people, like Kiswahili, Tamil, Hindi are virtually not present in the World Wide Web.

This fact has two major effects: it promotes the dominance of these languages as de-facto global linguas francas; it also still prevents the Internet to develop its full potential as global medium and repository of knowledge and culture. New information technologies these days have ventured into the remotest places of the Earth and reach more people than ever before in history. However, lacking content in “smaller” or less dominant languages hampers the possibilities that this development could open to promote democracy, equal opportunities and development, and to prevent discrimination. All because it still does not allow access to vital information, to education and resources for millions of people with limited knowledge of these few dominant languages.

The neglect of “smaller” languages in the new technologies has yet another adverse effect. While technological development and the evolution of the Internet proceeds ever more rapidly, those languages which miss out to follow suit now, risk to lose more and more of their functions ever faster. With increasing “monolingualisation” and simultaneous permeation of the Web to various social and geographical regions, even languages which may seem healthy and strong today may lose their ability to evolve and develop further through this medium.

At the same time, many contributions from speakers of other languages will not be heard now and in future. Many ideas and innovations that can best be expressed in a person’s mother tongue will thus be lost. The result is a true pauperization of our emerging knowledge societies.

The true danger is that the process reinforces itself to the advantage of some and on the costs of many others. And once gone it is hard to revive.

UNESCO set the theme for this year “The information and communication technologies for the safeguarding and promotion of languages and linguistic diversity” to highlight the new technologies’ enormous potential for safeguarding, documenting and promoting the use of mother languages.

TermNet supports this effort and, therefore, calls for joint efforts to promote linguistic diversity in the new media for the mutual benefit of all.

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21 May: World Day for Cultural Diversity, for Dialogue and Development

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terminology blog UNESCO cultural diversity

In November 2001 UNESCO adopted the Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity. Further to this, the General Assembly of the United Nations proclaimed 21 May as World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development in its Resolution 57/249.

This day aims to celebrate and deepen understanding of the values of Cultural Diversity. This is why UNESCO appeals to the Member States as well as to all civil society to celebrate this World Day by involving as many actors and partners as possible.

From 17 – 27 May UNESCO celebrates the 3rd International Festival of Diversity and the realization that

“Yesterday’s world was set on its differences; today’s tends to unification. The task of our time is to bring ourselves to the realization that the unity of the human species lies in its diversity.”

We invite you to celebrate this day with us! Take some small or larger action in honour of a world of unity in diversity!

Download the programme of the festivities in Paris and learn more about UNESCO’s dedication to cultural diversity at the UNESCO Website

WSIS Forum 2010: Turning Targets into Action – towards 2015 closes tomorrow

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The year of 2010 marks a turning point for assessing the progress made towards WSIS implementation during the past five years and for proposing new strategies to ensure the achievement of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) goals by 2015.

The WSIS Forum 2010 is currently held (10 to 14 of May 2010) at the ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. The organizers, UNESCO, ITU, UNCTAD and UNDP set-up an exceptional event: More than 800 participants have registered. Four heads of UN agencies, many ministers, CEOs, civil society, representatives from academia and other stakeholders will participate in a week full of high-level debates, facilitation meetings, thematic workshops, interactive sessions, knowledge exchanges and kick off meetings. There will also be an exhibition and several publication releases and two receptions for the participants…

(for full article go to UNESCO)

WSIS Summit is webcast. View the sessions here: http://www.itu.int/ibs/WSIS/201005forum/index.html

UNESCO will also present its WSIS mid-term assessment, a publication entitled: Towards Inclusive Knowledge Societies – A review of UNESCO’s action in implementing the WSIS outcomes at the Forum

Diversity and Global Understanding in Vienna

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Working in the context of the United Nations means experiencing cultural diversity and multilingualism. The workshops seek to promote greater awareness of the importance of efficient communication tools and “a common language” spoken when people from diverse backgrounds work together.
We will look into the realities of diversity in the UN system, as they manifest in the field. We will seek to explore the full range of what diversity means for the UN’s working procedure and explore the modes of diversity in real-life situations of working together on
the ground.

Register here

Hence, since deficits in effective internal and external communication, intercultural competence and diversity management have been identified as problematic the question must be asked as to how specially targeted initiatives, tools and policies in this field have
the potential to improve such communication and therefore the performance of the United Nations System and civil society in its support.

Our objective is to deepen the international debate on questions relating to cultural diversity, particularly (but not exclusively) its effects to the working environment of the UN organizations and its peace operations.
Existing infrastructure, ongoing activities and common practise are discussed by the workshop participants and new research proposed in a series of presentations by scholars and practitioners. Thematically the focus is on the benefits of diversity
management, terminology, education and shared communication tools.

An update:

The programme for the Diversity and Global Understanding workshops (31 May – 2 June, in Vienna) has been all but finalized. Have a look below and come join us at the UN Vienna! Participation is free of charge but registration is an absolute must. Places are limited, so it’s strictly first come first serve!

Register here!

Monday, May 31, 2010
4 pm – 6 pm Registration
6 pm – 8 pm Reception by the go4diversity Project

Tuesday, 1 June 2010
9 am – 9.45 am Keynote speech:  Gerhard Budin, UNESCO Chair for “Multilingual, Transcultural Communication in the
Digital Age”; University of Vienna
10 am -12.30 p.m. WORKSHOP I: Diversity and Diversity Management
(Moderator: Gabriele Sauberer)
Gabriele Sauberer: “Diversity, social responsibility and diversity management in the context of peace”

Esra Killaf (MA17)

René Hudribusch (Ministry of Defense and Sport): „The effects of masculine & power cultures on worksplace bullying in the Austrian Armed Forces (and their relation to UN Resol. 1325)“

Lakshmi Kumar (The Orchid School): „Connecting worlds: raising intercultural insights for global-centric leaderships“

1.30 – 3 pm WORKSHOP II:   Go4Diversity: Global Education, Migration, Inclusion and Science
3.30-5.45 pm WORKSHOP III: Terminology – its role in UN peace policy
(Moderators: Anja Drame, Julia Harfensteller)
Anja Drame: Introduction – terminology policies and communication

Klaus Mak (LVAG, Austria): „ProTerm“ and process-oriented knowledge management

Valens Bimenyimana (PIH, Senior Translator/Interpreter) „Rwanda’s terminology and language policy needs“

Mekki El Badri (UNOV, translator for Arabic) „Translators and terminologists at the UN Vienna“

Julia Hafensteller: „Potential and Role of Concepts in Organizational Policy“

Wednesday, 2 June 2010
9 am – 9.30 am Keynote Speech: tentatively: Gabriele Eschig, Austrian Commission for Austria (about UNESCO and Diversity)

9.30 am – 12.30 WORKSHOP IV: Global Education
(Moderators: Reinhard Mitschke)
Reinhard Mitschke: Report about the COMSIC project (Collaboration Competencies for Media Supported Intercultural Groups)

1.30 pm – 3 pm WORKSHOP V, continued:

Kent Kille (College of Wooster): “Interactive Global Education: Active Learning and the Center of Diversity and Global Engagement.”

Jamie Arbuckle (former Canadian UN Peacekeeper): „Intercultural communication among agencies: intra-agency relationships, agencies as cultures“

3.30 pm – 5.45 pm WORKSHOP VI and Practical Training: Fostering global understanding through new ICT tools and ways of communication
(Moderators: Henrike Paepcke)
this one is all about wikis, social networks, blogs, Twitter, etc.

Language Portal of Canada launched

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Canada has been regarded by most of us as the linguistist’s and terminologist’s paradise for many years. And derservedly so. Hardly any other country puts so much real effort into preservation and promotion of linguistic diversity. And above all, these efforts are crowned with professionalism, efficiency and success!

Canada now finally has her one-stop-shop for anything related to her linguistic heritage. The country’s rich linguistic resources are now accessible at the newly launched Language Portal of Canada.

“Through this portal, anybody can finally obtain access free of charge to TERMIUM®, the Government of Canada’s linguistic and terminology data bank. With TERMIUM® finding the right words has just become easier with more than 3,900,000 terms of which some 200 000 are in Spanish” says Gabriel Huard, Director of the Translation Bureau.

He further notes that “the portal also contains a vast array of language tools, a magazine, exercises dealing with problem words in French and English, and a directory of useful links to resources and organizations active in the language field.”

In June 2008, the Government of Canada published the Roadmap for Canada’s Linguistic Duality 2008-­2013: Acting for the Future. Within the framework of this initiative, Public Works and Government Services Canada mandated the Translation Bureau of the Government of Canada to design and put online the language portal.

Go to www.ourlanguages.gc.ca

Hello!

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This Blog is all about terminology. Themes and topics will be discussed here by everyone who has something interesting to say or ask: terminologists, translators, language professionals, localization experts, interpreters or specialists of any domain or profession who want to discuss issues concerning terminology.

Everybody is invited to contribute – as long as the topic is relevant. Just post a comment or contact us by e-mail if you want to be published here.

We hope to hear from YOU soon!