Break, Break the Walls Between the Peoples!
December 1 saw one of the largest celebrations held annually by the language-lovers of Moscow for their ever-increasing community. The 14th Moscow Language Festival, hosted by HSE, was truly a memorable event.
Around 70 languages were presented in an enjoyable, professional manner by passionate speakers eager to impress and intrigue. Well-informed and approachable, they made their lectures fun and highly informative – many sung or read poems in their respective languages, others helped you actually read and understand foreign words.
Among the widespread languages such as German and Spanish, there were also many less known ones such as Malayalam, Even, Udmurt and others. It is especially important to talk about and popularise the languages and customs of ethnic minorities, not just to broaden our horizons, but to help preserve the cultural inheritance of humanity.
As a pleasant bonus, this year, 2019, marks 160 years since the birth of Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof , creator of esperanto – an artificial language to unite all of humantity.
“Break, break the walls between the peoples” (-L.L.Z)
While it has been replaced in terms of number of speakers by English, it still remains an invaluable part of the language-lovers’ community, and the Festival is where esperanto speakers meet, teach others the basics and hold discussions and games such as Mafia in esperanto. Speaking of overcoming boundaries, various alternate forms of communication were brought up, ranging from Russian Sign Language to hieroghlyphics and fictional languages such as the Elvish Tongue Sindarin.
Aside from language presentations, there are also lectures that touch upon verbal expression in the context of culture, especially literature. This year, for instance, you could find out the pros and cons of being bilingual from a sociological point of view, learn about the significance of potatos in Irish culture, get acquainted with the top three Finnish rappers and find out what hip hop and opera have in common. There were also performances dedicated to the intersection points of language and economics, chemistry, psychology, folklore, astronomy and computer technology.
For those who get tired easily, aren’t overly keen on laguage study themselves, or have little kids to take care of, visiting the Festival is still very much a viable option. Specially designated areas such as the “playground” with child-friendly activities, authentic Chinese Tea Ceremony corridor, and synchronised translator masterclasses will make your experience worthwhile and enjoyable. Seven blocks of lectures and activities are wrapped up by an astounding and culturally diverse concert, which leaves behind fond memories and the thrilling urge to attend next year.
To conclude, Language Festivals really are a gem to behold, since they help to inform people of all the fantastic cultures in the world, and the influence linguistics have on other areas of study. They also generally allow people to have a great time and expand their horizons. Last but not least, if you speak or know lots about a specific language or culture, you can always apply to run a presentation yourself! You don’t have to be a professional linguist or culture expert to take part - some speakers are still in school. For more information feel free to visit their website and get in touch with a coordinator – they’re always willing to help or passionately discuss our weird and wonderful and culturally diverse world.