2017 — a year of languages

December 29, 2017

Over the past year, ELA continued its mission to document linguistic diversity both in our hometown of New York City, a global language capital, and around the world. We partnered with government agencies, high schools, museums, community groups, language activists and Google to support dozens of languages from five continents.

In January, we launched a new hyper-multilingual poetry anthology with a series of workshops. In February, we started Lunaape classes with language keeper Karen Hunter, marking the first time that the indigenous language of New York City and the surrounding area has been taught in the city. In March, responding to attacks on our immigrant partners, we launched a series of ¡Conozca sus derechos! (Know your rights) videos in indigenous Latin American languages. April saw the release of our Google Cultural Institute exhibit. In May and June we began our ongoing intensive collaboration with the New York City Department of Health to better understand the linguistic, cultural and health background of indigenous Latin American communities in New York.

Through July and August, and all this year, the languages of two of Asia’s mighty mountain ranges, the Himalayas and the Pamirs, were a major focus — driven by the deep interest and digital savvy of our partners from these communities, our videos in languages like Mustangi, Dzhongka, Wakhi, and Shughni have been viewed tens of thousands of times.

In September, the family of the late Joshua Fishman, leading scholar of language revitalizations and the sociology of language, generously donated his vast library to ELA. In October, public events were a major focus — from the streets of Jackson Heights to a community bookstore in Washington Heights to St. John’s University in Queens. With support from the Brooklyn Arts Council, we began our project to record lullabies in a range of languages across NYC in November. In December, work has been progressing on our language map of the city, which we hope to share with you in 2018!

This is just a little of what we’ve been up to — to learn more, visit our website or our Youtube channel, featuring hundreds of languages and stories you will hear nowhere else.

We hope to see you in 2018 — please help us make it all happen!