The Living Language Land project really spoke to the world from the stage at COP26. This scheme is committed to providing minority and endangered language users with a platform from which to share a word and story that reflects their relationship to the land and nature. The project urged world leaders to adopt a far more holistic view towards humanity’s place in the natural world by celebrating indigenous minority languages.

The power of language

Language can allow us to do so much –  protect our history, our customs and traditions, keep memories alive and preserve unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression. Language lets us use our past as building blocks for the future. We often take it for granted that we can lead our lives in our home languages without constraints or prejudice.

Sadly, with indigenous communities being confronted with the ongoing challenges of assimilation, relocation, poverty, illiteracy and migration, their languages are disappearing at an alarming rate.

The complex systems of knowledge and culture developed and accumulated by these local languages over thousands of years, makes their disappearance upsetting. It is a loss that would deprive us of their rich diversity and the ecological, economic and sociocultural value they represent. More importantly, their loss would have a huge negative impact on the indigenous cultures concerned.

The Living Language Land project

Although only a tiny fraction of minority and endangered languages could be represented in this project, the Living Language Land project has identified 25 words from minority languages and dialects across the globe – including Native American Lakota, Murui, a native language of Colombia and Peru, and Scots Gaelic – which illustrate each culture’s unique ties to their land.

The project presented 26 recordings to match the number given to this summit, COP26, which can be heard here.

The producers of the project, Philippa Bayley and Neville Gabie, revealed how they hoped to promote a shift in thinking about the climate crisis to focus on humanity’s symbiotic relationship with and dependency on the natural world.

Neville Gabie believes that “The conversations in Cop26 are dominated by a Western notion of how we address climate change.” He added: “we’re trying to say that part of the solution is a change in thinking, which can be inspired by other communities who have lived with nature in a very different way to our own.

“It’s opening ourselves to those different voices, that different conversation, and a different dialogue with nature and the environment that I think is so vital and necessary.”

Bayley, a research manager, emphasised how indigenous and minority languages were rooted in their bonds with the surrounding environment. “Language grows out of a place so the specifics of that place – the creatures, plants, landscape, climate – are all represented in the language,” she said. “But language also describes more deeply the relationships of humans to what is more than human, but also all those other relationships to each other.”

The importance of localisation

At Albion Languages, we are strong believers in in-depth localisation. Put simply, the localisation of language refers to the process of adapting a product or service to meet the needs of a particular language and culture. A successfully localised service or product can feel almost as if it has been developed within the local culture. Details such as time zones, currency, national holidays, product or service name translation, gender roles, geographic references, local slang and so many other aspects all need to be considered.

At Albion Languages, our teams are dedicated to localising content for specific geographic territories or cultures. We appreciate and respect the subtleties required and their importance in maintaining the colourful and varied world we live in. To speak to a member of our localisation team, please click here.