Seminar “International Year of Indigenous Languages in the World and in Estonia”


The aim of the public event held on 15 February in Tallinn at Estonian Writer’s Union is to introduce the 2019 International Year of the Indigenous Languages to the general public and media in Estonia and to contribute to the awareness raising about its objectives. The event will consist of two presentations, a panel discussion and a cultural programme.

One of the presentations will focus on the international context, UNESCO’s important role as the lead agency of the year and will share the experience of Estonia as a member of the Steering Committee of IYIL 2019 representing the multi stakeholder partnership. The other presentation will be academic, focusing on the concept of indigenous languages and dialects in Estonia and their development throughout history.

The panel discussion will include panelists from the ministries responsible for language issues and Estonian non-profit organizations who work together with Finno-Ugric and Uralic peoples:  Ministry of Education and Research, Ministry of Culture, NPO Fenno-Ugria and NPO URALIC Centre for Indigenous Peoples. As the IYIL 2019 coincides with the Estonian Language Year announced by the Ministry of Education and Research, the panel will explore how the different activities planned will support and reinforce each other. It will also draw attention to the fact that languages function as a source of identity and belonging and no language should be taken for granted – it should be actively used and its condition and development should be researched and supported.

The event will end with a cultural programme consisting of poetry reading in Võro dialect spoken in South-Estonia.

The organizers include the Ministry of Culture, the Estonian Folk Culture Centre and the Estonian National Commission for UNESCO. The other contributors to the event are the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Education and Research, the University of Tartu, NPO Fenno-Ugria and NPO URALIC Centre for Indigenous Peoples.