Gov’t zeroes in on revival of Arawak, Warrau indigenous languages

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With some indigenous people in Guyana losing their language, Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Campbell- Sukhai says that the government is once again going to focus on preserving the Arawak and Warrau indigenous languages.

The preservation of indigenous languages is an important part of preserving indigenous culture but in Guyana, Campbell- Sukhai related that the Arawak (lokono) and Warrau languages are threatened.

As such, she said that her ministry has submitted a proposal to help revive these languages for consideration in the 2022 National Budget.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Campbell- Sukhai

“We will support those villages that have their languages already intact and we will support those who have lost their language or practically lost their language,” the minister told the News Room at the sidelines of an event on Tuesday.

While support will be provided to the indigenous nations that have already been able to revive and/or preserve their languages, a greater focus will be on reviving the Arawak and Warrau people.

According to information from the United Nations, although indigenous people around the world make up less than six per cent of the global population, they speak more than 4,000 of the world’s languages. But, a large number of those languages are threatened by becoming lost.

Importantly, however, the UN also stated that most governments are aware of the language crisis and have introduced legislation, policies and programmes to address it. Still, the body says that greater efforts are needed.

Campbell- Sukhai explained, however, that languages cannot be revived in a short period.

“…it’s like generations that have not been acquainted with their languages and so we have to make special provisions for the Arawaks in particular,” she explained.

It is for this reason, the project – once approved and included in the National Budget – will be a longer-term project.

In 2013, the government started a language revival project that saw the revival of the Arawak language in the community of Wakapau in Region Two (Pomeroon- Supenaam). And the minister said that the government is interested in ensuring that this project is revived.

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