BASAbali wins International Linguapax Award 2018

Linguapax delivers a yearly award on the occasion of the International Mother Language Day (21 February). This prize is a tribute to outstanding action carried out in different areas in favour of the preservation of linguistic diversity, revitalization and reactivation of linguistic communities and the promotion of multilingualism.

In words of BASAbali’s founding director, Alissa Stern, “BASAbali is founded in the belief that all languages, but most importantly a language of a great culture such as Balinese, deserve recognition and use in the modern world — and not be relegated to a language of rural farmers or a language of home, not worthy of activities associated with learning, public affairs and local educational and political practices. The aim, in short, is to develop facilities that will enable Balinese and other local languages to occupy a position of prestige alongside modern national and international languages and to carry forward their rich cultural traditions.”

Using the Balinese language as a model for other language communities, the BASAbali collaboration is pioneering a language revitalization methodology that is predicated on the belief linguistic diversity is paramount to human sustainability and will require a significant shift in how we value local languages, especially in today’s digital world.

Since its inception in 2011,the  BASAbali collaboration has developed  programs that have produced critical resources while involving important segments of the Balinese intelligentsia and international language advocates in propelling the Balinese language into becoming a language that is valued within the Balinese community and within the modern world. For example, BASAbali translated  Google’s Home page into the Balinese language, symbolically and literally placing Balinese amongst modern international languages; they created interactive multimedia software to teach Balinese in a modern engaging way, they secured a local government mandate for using Balinese on Fridays and carried out many other grass-roots effortsto motivate and institutionalise the use of Balinese in both the local and international communities.

One their major achievements is the BASAbali wiki, a combination trilingual multi-media reference dictionary, encyclopedia, and digital library of traditional texts, modern Balinese literature and photographs, many of which are not otherwise available on line. BASAbali Wiki is also working with academics and government appointed “Language Ambassadors” to contextualize indigenous medicinal wisdom from traditional palm leaf manuscripts with modern usage via videos contributed by villagers and by professional videographers; and BASAbali Wiki also provides a platform for a new genre of modern Balinese literature and encourages people to write in Balinese and to share their work in order to encourage others to follow suit.

The award delivery ceremony will take place later this year.