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Natalia Komarova: People are the main preservers of the native language

4 december 2019

Department of Public and External Relations of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug – Ugra informs:

The international conference “Language Technologies for All (LT4All): Enabling Linguistic Diversity and Multilingualism Worldwide" was opened in UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. Its participants were representatives of over 150 leading scientists in the field of language policy, of studying the problems of sustainable development, governments, heads of international and national organizations of Russia, France, the USA, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Spain, Switzerland, the Republic of South Africa, China, Portugal, Hungary, Argentina, Brazil and others, the CIS countries.

Addressing the participants, the Governor of Ugra Natalia Komarova noted that over the past decade, Russia, in collaboration with UNESCO, had held 7 large-scale international forums on the problems of preserving languages. “This is a very important topic for all the peoples of the planet,” she emphasized. “This is one of the most important tasks the governments of the countries, the international scientific, expert community, and public associations face.”

The Governor spoke about individual practices of Ugra in the field of preserving the native languages of indigenous peoples. Thus, she singled out the educational model “Nomad Camp School - Garden” - a mobile e-school for the study of the native language in places where people live in the territories of traditional nature management.

“One of the positive aspects of cyberspace is windows, personal accounts that provide access to knowledge, memory, culture, and native languages of peoples. Access to distance educational technologies is provided as part of the IT Nomad Camp project. This year only, in the territories of traditional residence 9 IT nomad camps will be created, and by the beginning of 2021 - 22,” Natalia Komarova said.

At the same time, the Head of the Region focused on the fact that the Ugra Literary Map digital resources with writers' works in the native languages, the dialectological atlas of the Ob-Ugric and Samoyed languages, the multimedia electronic alphabet for preschool and elementary school students, the shorter Mansi-Russian dictionary with online application were introduced into the study process. In addition, Mansi language textbooks for 1-4 classes were published and provided for schools, and until 2020 a training complex for 5-9 classes will be published.

Natalia Komarova said that in February 2020, an all-Russian forum of teachers of native languages would be held in Ugra, during which teachers from all over the country exchange experiences on preserving native languages, and invited the conference participants to this event.

“In our region, 3 newspapers and 2 children's magazines are published in indigenous languages with a total annual circulation of 123 thousand copies. Television cultural and educational programs in the native languages are broadcast for 1,410 minutes, on the radio - 2,260 minutes per year," the Governor emphasized. "Along with preserving traditions, culture, native languages using digital technologies, it is important not to forget about people. They are the main preservers of the native language."

It is for this purpose that a new project is being implemented in the Autonomous Okrug on the formation of an ethno-cultural bank of Finno-Ugric peoples. This digital system will allow in real time to get acquainted with the cultural heritage of the Finno-Ugric peoples, materials in their native languages​- text, graphic, audio and video files. The resource is scheduled to be launched in September 2020.

In addition, according to Natalia Komarova, a constructive dialogue plays an important role in preserving native languages. Therefore, it is necessary to study the rich experience of multilingual countries, to adopt the best practices.

“We are extremely interested in the knowledge of international experts, in strengthening cooperation. I am sure that our conference will help to establish contacts and will allow us to develop new approaches in preserving our native languages, ensuring world language diversity. Linguistic diversity, the culture of indigenous peoples should develop, be the foundation for the development of the kindest relations in the world," Natalia Komarova said.

She noted that Ugra had 7 ongoing international projects jointly with UNESCO. Over 20 thousand people are involved in their implementation annually. Among these projects are the international environmental action “Save and Preserve”, 4 existing UNESCO schools, the second department of the international organization is scheduled for opening.

“In Ugra, a register of intangible cultural heritage has been created. In it, a section was opened which keeps a record of culture-bearers and native speakers of indigenous peoples. Today it already includes 8 people. I believe that this innovation will be interesting to all specialists,” Natalia Komarova added. "I would like to mention another joint project related to the training of specialists in the oil and gas business. It is implemented together with the St. Petersburg Mining University, UNESCO. Our region is chosen as a pilot one. We are responsible for preparing the standard for obtaining a profession, advanced training. This project is of great practical importance.”

“The Conference finalizes the International Year of Indigenous Languages. It affects a wide range of political, social, cultural, economic, communication, educational and scientific aspects of preserving languages, developing linguistic diversity, multilingualism both in the real world and in the cyberspace,” Evgeny Kuzmin, the Deputy Chairman of the Intergovernmental Council of the UNESCO Information for All Program said. “The Conference participants are focused on specific issues of language technologies, achievements in this area, the future of languages.”

He recalled that the preservation of linguistic diversity was a tool that allowed us to understand, describe, analyze the surrounding reality, to form a picture of the world among people, to pass on to the younger generations the historical and social experience of peoples.

“The Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug and personally the Governor Natalia Komarova make a great contribution to the cause of UNESCO - bringing together people, the best specialists from different industries around developing a new, deeper understanding of the arising problems of preserving linguistic diversity, finding solutions,” Evgeny Kuzmin stated.

“Cooperation with the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug and with Russia as a whole is extremely valuable for UNESCO, especially in the field of preserving languages. We are ready to consider the most diverse formats of work with ssmall-numbered peoples,” UNESCO Deputy Director General Moez Chakchouk said. “Only by maintaining and developing joint initiatives, we will be able to preserve linguistic diversity and culture.”

His words were supported by Alexander Kuznetsov, the Permanent Representative of Russia to UNESCO, adding that Ugra was one of UNESCO’s main partners among the country's regions. Moreover, the cooperation of the parties includes not only the preservation of languages, but also the educational and environmental areas, the development of departments and associated schools of the international organization, and many other areas. “We really appreciate such activity of the Khanty-Mansiysk Autonomous Okrug,” he stated.

It should be noted that the Conference was organized by the Government of Ugra under the auspices of UNESCO and in partnership with the Federal Agency for Nationalities. It is dedicated to multilingualism as a tool for building knowledge societies. During the first thematic day, several sessions were organized on issues of indigenous languages, communications in the 21st century, language policy in the period of globalization, as well as multilingualism in education and science.

It is expected that, based on the results of the conference, particular recommendations will be developed to improve the state of linguistic diversity and multilingualism, to create favorable conditions for the further implementation of linguistic technologies, and to determine the best practices and technical solutions to promote linguistic diversity.

The Ugra exhibition “Indigenous Peoples of the North. Languages. Technology" was also opened there. The district masters of the Torum Maa ethnographic open-air museum and the creative team of the Ob-Ugric peoples theater “The Sun” held master classes for the participants. The winner of the Grand Prix of All-Russian and international art festivals Vera Kondratieva performed music and dance turns.


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