Bremen, Germany is holding a “Festival of Languages” which started on the 18th September. The festival celebrates all of the world’s 6,500 languages. According to this article it is the first of its kind in the world and will last 21 days.
So, what does one do at a “Festival of Languages?” The events scheduled include music, theater and art exhibits, as well as chances to learn important phrases in a variety of languages.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the festival is the construction of a “Pyramid of Language” out of 6,500 cubes of wood. Each cube represents one of the world’s languages, and will be decorated with a word or phrase from that language before being placed onto the pyramid.
The finished product will be 6 meters high, and festival organizers say it will take a week to complete. Pretty impressive…but why go through all the trouble? According to Professor Thomas Stolz of the University of Bremen:
“The idea behind the pyramid of languages is to give the spectators something more concrete and tangible to watch, which helps to convey the enormous linguistic wealth of our world.”
The goal of the festival is not only to celebrate linguistic diversity, but also to raise awareness about threatened and endangered languages. According to the Living Tongues Institute for Endangered Languages, half of the languages spoken today will probably die out within the next century. In fact, endangered languages are disappearing at the rate of one every 14 days!
In the “Pyramid of Language,” all of the wooden cubes are of equal size. As Professor Stolz explained, one of aims of the festival is:
“to show that all languages are equal, no matter how large, politically or economically potent their speech-communities are.”