The Idea behind the Festival

L istening to the radio, reading the paper, writing e-mails and of course talking to one another: none of these and many other activities would be feasible without the use of language. Actually, our human life is saturated with language, a fact which we contemplate only rarely: we acquire our native tongue more or less automatically and usually sail through life without ever having to concern ourselves with language. It is this curious imbalance between the importance of language in our lives and the neglect with which we treat it that sparked the idea of our festival: we want to celebrate language in a multitude of colourful events, thus creating an awareness of how exciting and important the investigation of language and languages can be. Our motto reads Language is fun, Language is culture, Language is society, Language is life and was chosen to emphasise the fact that language is much more than an abstract means of conveying information – it serves an immensely important social function and furthers our cultural sense of belonging as well as that of our personal identity. In short, language is a cultural treasure whose significance in our lives shall be highlighted by the festival.

Our main objectives are:

  • to emphasise the central role language and languages play in all aspects of human life (including identity issues, social integration, pedagogy, psychology, art, etc.);
  • to familiarise the general public with the idea of the linguistic diversity of our world;
  • to demonstrate that this diversity is a positive value of humankind and needs to be preserved;
  • to show that the preservation of linguistic diversity is at stake because of the growing peril of language endangerment;
  • to strengthen the idea that it is of utmost importance to learn and teach languages independent of their apparent economic standing;
  • to make clear that we need to understand language and languages better and that this is the task of linguistics and the language sciences;
  • to allow for academics and non-academics to meet, exchange viewpoints etc. in order to prove that what those who are professionally involved with language studies have something to say which has a bearing on the life of language users in general.

The Festival of Languages will take place in 2009 in Bremen/Germany, spanning a period of 21 days from 17 September (a Thursday) to 7 October (a Wednesday). The events will be hosted at various sites in the entire city-state of Bremen including – among others – the campus of the University of Bremen, various museums, the local parliament, libraries, the Haus der Wissenschaft, the Bremer Volkshochschule, the Instituto Cervantes, the Institut Français, the Institut für Niederdeutsche Sprache (INS), several local schools and public places in the centre of town.