Editor, Executive Director, Web Admin

by mira.zakaria on 

June 10, 2018
Polyglot Indonesia x Wikitongues : Collaboration for Local Language Preservation in Indonesia
Keberagaman Suku Indonesia  (via: pelajaran.co.id)

Language is a vital element of human civilization. Without language, it would be nearly impossible for someone to create meaningful communication and interaction. That being said, keeping the existence of language is an important call for everyone, especially the current generation.

However, because of the influence of technology and communication development in today’s dynamic globalization, there are lots of languages in the world which potentially experience shifting. Hence, the possibility of language loss could happen if there is no action taken to keep the existence of the language in the world, especially in Indonesia.

Based on the data from the department linguistics of University of Indonesia, the nation is one of countries with the highest language diversity in the world, with 742 languages spoken. UNESCO states that there are 137 local languages in Indonesia which are in the state of endangeredment (Prasetyo, 2012). However, many languages have begun to disappear because of at least two reasons, 1) lesser speakers of the local languages and 2) the lack of information for the linguists for conducting the language conservation optimally.  

This sad truth produces the emergence of efforts and commitment from various parties preserving the existence of local languages in Indonesia. Thankfully, the Internet is not just a homogenizing force; it can aid language preservation, too. To that end, two online communities have joined forces to combat language loss in Indonesia. They are Polyglot Indonesia and Wikitongues.

 

About PolygIot Indonesia and Wikitongues

Polyglot Indonesia (PI) is a community of language enthusiasts in Indonesia founded in 2013. The community was formed as a platform for supporting language practice in a fun and relaxed environment. Polyglot Indonesia also facilitates information exchange on language and culture and serves as a networking platform for all its members, regardless of nationality. Seeing the growing enthusiasm of the members in Indonesia, PI enlarged its vision to engage as inspirational platform for language and cultural exchanges.

In order to aid in the conservation of local languages in Indonesia, PI will cooperate with Wikitongues, a nonprofit community of 800 volunteers spread over 70 countries working to preserve, empower and promote every language in the world. Based in New York City, USA, Wikitongues creates a platform for international volunteers to make language documentation frameworks more accessible; building the first archive of every language and dialect in the world, focusing on oral histories. The organization also develops open source technology as part of cultural exchange to achieve the goal.

Collaboration between PI and Wikitongues is a commitment from grass-root level communities to implement language conservation so that local language loss in Indonesia can be stemmed. Specifically, both communities will create several programs, including: 1) developing a local language archive and documentation in Indonesia, 2) organizing en masse contribution to Wikimedia, and 3) creating events for awareness-raising on language preservation.

Daniel Bogre Udell is the Co-founder of Wikitongues, "We're thrilled to work with Polyglot Indonesia because we see an opportunity to develop scalable, replicable models for grassroots linguistic preservation. The immense diversity of Indonesia makes the country an ideal place to explore this. We hope that in time, our efforts will create actionable ways forward for language activists around the world”.

This collaboration marks the spirit of language preservation that is led by community. Both communities also welcome cooperation from others parties dealing with language programs.

Mira Zakaria as the Executive Director of PI fully supports this cooperation. "We realize that as young people of Indonesia, we need to preserve our heritage and culture as part of collective responsibility. Polyglot Indonesia offers its huge commitment in keeping the knowledge of local languages in Indonesia. We also invite all communities and representatives from various sectors to come along and archive the story of local language speakers in Indonesia. We are certain that through cooperating with partners who own noble vision and commitment like Wikitongues, we can reach the goal and pass down positive legacy for the upcoming generations".

The collaboration is currently supported by the technology-oriented Participatory Culture Foundation, who builds Amara, the tool that is used for subtitling/translating the language documentation. And with the wide range of membership and professional contributors in both communities, the goals of local language preservation in Indonesia is expected to be optimally achieved.

Hence, to support the action, we call upon everyone to contribute and volunteer for local languages preservation. Let’s join us!

 

Author:

Kunto Nurcahyoko
Project Leader for Polyglot Indonesia x Wikitongues Collaboration

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