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"Who's afraid of bilingualism?"

Media Release New Zealand National Commission For Unesco

"Who's afraid of bilingualism?"

UNESCO Lecture UN International Year of Languages 2008

Date: Wednesday 2 July 2008 Time: 3pm-5pm Venue: National Library Auditorium, Molesworth Street, Thorndon, Wellington

Globalisation and its effect upon linguistic diversity and multilingualism will be explored by Professor Anne Pauwels in this special UNESCO Lecture in celebration of the UN International Year of Languages 2008.

"Professor Pauwels' lecture will consider linguistic issues affecting individuals and communities around the world," says New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO Secretary-General, Elizabeth Rose.

English has been identified as the language of globalisation, and as it spreads it threatens the survival of other, smaller languages. More and more languages, including many in the Pacific sub-region, are becoming endangered as the move towards a global language discourages the acquisition of other languages. One result, according to Professor Pauwels, is "an increased polarisation between communities that are considered English-dominant and those that are not".

Professor Pauwels will propose some initiatives to address the decline in language learning and retention.

Anne Pauwels is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Western Australia. She has published widely in the area of multilingualism, community language learning and language maintenance, as well as language and gender.

Languages are at the very heart of UNESCO's objectives, described by UNESCO Director-General Koichiro Matsuura as "humanity's most precious and fragile treasure". UNESCO is the lead agency for the United Nations International Year of Languages 2008, which has adopted the slogan: "Languages Matter". In New Zealand, the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO is working with the Human Rights Commission, Maori Language Commission, Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Ministry for Culture and Heritage and other agencies to raise awareness of the International Year. A number of language-related events are listed in the Diary of Events, to be found on the New Zealand National Commission for UNESCO website: www.unesco.org.nz.


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