A Language Festival (in Esperanto: Lingva Festivalo) – is a cultural and educational project, organized by Esperanto followers (esperantists) in a few cities of Russia and abroad. A Language Festival is primarily composed of language presentations - 30-40-minute periods dedicated to a certain language of the world. You can hear the language sounding, learn some phrases, find out some of its history and development and simply communicate with a person belonging to the culture carried by this language, learn about national and cultural peculiarities of another country, etc.
Language presentations within the Language Festival run on a parallel basis, that’s why each visitor faces a hard choice which presentation to visit. This can be facilitated by meeting the Festival teachers at the Festival opening ceremony on Saturday when the teachers come up the stage one by one and invite the visitors to their presentation in the language they present. While participating you can`t help enjoying the variety of speeches as well as the impression of touching upon another colorful side of the world, realized in the way of communication, i.e. in the language. And right then and there you have an opportunity to feel part of this treasure and start your own way towards understanding of another culture, through the acquaintance with its language.
When was it all started?
The idea of the Language Festival belongs to a US esperantist Dennis Keef who initiated and organized the first Language Festival in 1995 in Tours, France. A report about the event was published in the international Esperanto magazine “Kontakto” and already next year (1996) the first Russian Language Festival was held in Cheboksary in a similar way.
Nowadays Language Festivals are successfully held not only in Cheboksary, but also in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, Odessa, Ulyanovsk and some other cities of the CIS. In December 2006 Moscow hosted its first Language Festival and on March 4, 2007 the first festival took place in St. Petersburg.
What are the purposes?
The purpose of the Language Festival is to create the atmosphere of mutual understanding,free of conventions and stereotypes. We would like to draw attention to the language diversity of the world, and to emphasize the idea not just 5-10 languages circulate in the world, but much more. According to different estimates people speak 3-6 thousand languages worldwide.
Each language is a tool of communication. Just imagine that using a language people render their love, sing lullabies to their children, share their joy and sorrow. A journey in the world of languages can be endless and every person venturing to this journey is a discoverer meeting a great number of doors to the “neighbor worlds” outside his native language.
Before speaking about the diversity of the language world one needs a foundation. In the verbal expression it is the space of the native (parental) language. It is a system of axes which is founded inside us since our very birthday, entailing first words and images used by our ancestry. Speaking about the native language it is significant to understand that the language gains importance only when we ourselves begin to appreciate it. Through the Language Festival its organizers want to communicate the idea of the native language importance, the realization of self-belonging to the original culture realized and saved in it.
A better understanding of the world and one’s place in it is facilitated through the process of learning foreign languages as well as national ones. Foreign languages help us to make a career, to travel, to become acquainted with cultures of other nations. National languages give us an opportunity to better understand a given nation, its culture, its mentality and even some of its secrets. To study national languages means to learn to understand, get on well with and win respect with representatives of indigenous groups. That is why one of the main purposes of the Language Festival is to enhance the interest towards learning foreign and national languages.
There are no significant and insignificant languages, a correct classification would be “major” and “minor”. “Major” languages are spoken by a relatively large number of people and “minor” ones are spoken by relatively small groups. Each language is unique. Each language is the key to understanding of the whole world. While diminishing the importance and significance of a language, we derogate from the merits and significance of the whole group of people using this language as their own. As the LF organizers we stand for the lingual equality based on the mutual respect and understanding.
Without any doubt, there are also problems of international communication in the multilingual world – one can not learn all the languages. While choosing a national language as the means of international communication one unconsciously chooses the cultural values of this nation. However, one will never master a foreign language as well as a native-speaker. That is why we choose and represent the international auxiliary language of Esperanto as an alternative means of international communication. Esperanto contributes to the creation of equal conditions for intercommunication of people speaking different languages.
Esperanto is a language free from authorship and not belonging to a certain nation. It is not bounded with the image of a certain culture, but it has an ability to absorb the specific character of another language, thus becoming a rather useful agent in the process of communication. It is easy to learn Esperanto that is why it can equally belong to everybody and guarantee equal communication.