The UN General Assembly has declared 2019 as the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IY2019). The move is calculated to raise awareness of the significance of the role language plays in the everyday life of people. Language is more than just a means of communication. It is an identity marker, a repository of cultural memory and so much more. However, despite the importance of languages, more and more languages seem to be forgotten around the world everyday.
One example to illustrate the point is – Out of the 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages that have been counted in Australia, only 120 are still spoken. 90% of these are endangered.
The mission behind IY2019 is to raise even more awareness and take further actions to better preserve and promote Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages.
The UNESCO Action Plan will lay foundation for the IY2019, outlining the objectives, principles, and plan of action for the coming year and afterwards.
The National Indigenous Languages Report (NILR), i.e. to be released in late 2019 will provide a clear picture of the benefits and condition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages across the nation.