This week in languages: Feb 19, 2016

by on February 19, 2016



In Qatar, the state Cabinet has approved a new draft law requiring all ministries, official institutions, public schools, and universities to use Arabic—in a bid to promote the language in Qatar, especially among its youth. If and when it becomes law, the institutions would have to use the Arabic language for official documents, instructions, labels, correspondence, and advertisements, among other forms of communication. However, Doha News reports that “only a few details of the new law have been released“.

The Oromo language seems due to get a boost after the first publishing company dedicated to publishing Oromo works—particularly works aimed at children—was launched. Oromo is spoken in Kenya, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

A new primary school curriculum for students in some Kurdish-speaking areas of Syria is one of the initiatives of the local semi-autonomous government that controls parts of the territory. The Kurdish language has been banned in the past by the Syrian government, but this new initiative should allow Kurds to preserve their linguistic heritage.

Commentaries and Features

In a Quartz piece on the benefits of being bilingual, Frida Garza summarises the differences in acquisition of mono- and bilingual babies, and how speaking another language re-structures the way we process sounds and speech in the brain.

As an Afro-Carribean descendent in Costa Rica, Shirley Campbell Barra recalls her experiences and those of her family, as they strive to retain their identity in a socio-politically conflicted country that rejected a mestizo majority.  Anna Bjorklund translates from Spanish her tales of language change, cultural shift, and the role of English and Spanish amidst a migrant’s struggle for a better life. (Read the original story in Spanish here.)

Virge Randall recounts in Narratively, the “dialect of memories” she shared with her late husband, and mourns the impending death of the idiolectal quips and linguistic quirks of their shared experience. After all, “a language is a dialogue”.

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