In 2014, nine undergraduates in linguistics, literature, economics, and law, came together with a goal to bring their love for languages to a broader audience. Everyone speaks a language, but few give thought to its fundamental role in society, we thought. Most people today have studied a language in school, but few have ever been exposed to thinking about languages. While physics and chemistry, and even geography and history, are mainstays of basic education just about everywhere, most consider languages an arcane specialty.
Through Unravel we sought to change that. Over the course of our three years and 12 quarterly issues, we’ve published content spanning the breadth of the field, while keeping the tone conversational and the discussion jargon-free and relatable. Over 11 themed issues and an unthemed first issue, we’ve profiled languages from around the world; covered lesser-known pidgins and creoles; explained syntax and semantics; discussed multilingualism, polyglotism, and language acquisition; considered the art of translation; and so much more.
Most of all, we’re proud of the success Unravel has had in encouraging people to engage with language and contemplate its role in their thoughts and interactions. It’s taken us 10 key editors and more than 100 contributors, all volunteers from all around the world, to keep the magazine running; and readers from all over the globe to keep us going! The Unravel Project has had immense real-life significance in the geography of its origin: it has given a new lease of life to Kristang, the endangered creole language of the Portuguese-Eurasians in Singapore now being revitalised by the non-profit initiative Kodrah Kristang (to which three of our core editors devote their time) in addition to raising awareness of the plight of languages and communities around the world that struggle to stay relevant in a fast-changing world.
Unravel has always been about accessibility: our content is free, we write for the layperson, publish online rather than in print, and aim to be as multilingual as we can. And we will continue to do so in the years to come. But with fewer submissions than ever and an increasing number of interests and passions to pursue in our lives, we aren’t equipped to publish quarterly anymore. In 2018, we will trial a half-yearly schedule, publishing new issues in June and December, while Dialogue: The Unravel Blog will continue to publish articles regularly, notably through its weekly roundups.
We need your support to remain current. If there’s something you’d like us to cover, write in to us with an idea. If you have a unique perspective you’re willing to share with our community, send us a pitch or draft an article and our editors will do what they can to help you put an article together. If you’re in school/college and would like to share a cool language research project or observation you’ve made based on your experience, we want to know. If you’re keen on an editorial role, we could use your help. No matter what your skills are, if you enjoy languages as much as we do and you’re keen to keep this project running, get in touch!