Date: Mon, 8 Jan 1996 21:32:17 GMT

From: Natalie Maynor maynor[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]RA.MSSTATE.EDU

Subject: From The George Wright Society

I was asked to forward this to the ADS-L. Natalie


ANNOUNCING the creation of a nonprofit, nongovernmental, international

organization devoted to preserving the world's linguistic diversity, and to

investigating parallels and links between biological and cultural


*Terralingua: Partnerships for Biolinguistic Diversity*

Dear Colleague:

Last July, at a Symposium on Language Loss and Public Policy held at the

University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, some of the participants began

discussing proposals to form an organization to preserve the world's

linguistic diversity. Beyond this, these participants determined that any

such organization ought to coordinate with groups working to preserve the

diversity of species and ecosystems, thereby emphasizing the mutually

reinforcing importance of cultural and biological diversity. At that time,

a small ad hoc organizing committee formed to hammer out a statement of

purpose for the organization.

After going through a number of drafts, we, the members of this ad hoc

committee, now feel ready to announce the formation of the organization and

issue this Call for Interest to gauge potential support from you and

others. We *tentatively* propose to call our organization "Terralingua:

Partnerships for Biolinguistic Diversity" (see below for more on the name).

The organization will have two basic purposes. First, to preserve the

world's linguistic diversity in all its forms, regardless of political,

demographic, or linguistic status. This means that we are concerned with

the loss of any form of language, whether it be an endangered language, a

disappearing dialect of a non-endangered language, declining bilingual use

of a language (endangered or not) within a given country, and so forth. As

you can see, the emphasis is on diversity as a whole rather than

endangerment, though of course we will necessarily be deeply involved in

supporting the preservation of critically endangered forms of language.

We also are convinced that attempts to preserve either linguistic or

biological diversity will ultimately not succeed unless both are preserved;

that is, we believe in a holistic view of diversity in culture and nature.

Thus, Terralingua's second basic purpose is to promote the investigation of

the parallels and links between cultural diversity (of which linguistic

diversity is an important part) and biological diversity. We want to build

bridges between groups and individuals working to save languages and

cultures and those working to save species and ecosystems. All of this is

fleshed out in the organization's Statement of Purpose, which is attached

to this Call for Interest.

What exactly do we propose to do? Initially, our goals are modest. First

of all, we want to serve as a rallying point for those who share our

beliefs and who want to join us in doing something. Second, we want to

solicit your suggestions on how we can establish the partnerships that are

at the heart of the Terralingua vision. We particularly want to reach out

to community-based groups and individuals working on "the front lines," so

we would appreciate it if you could send us contact information for those

that you know of. Third, we want to hear from you about what you think the

organization's priorities should be. Once all this is in place, we will

pursue a specific plan of action. As you well know, much needs to be done

on all sorts of fronts. But we think that, working together, we have the

talent, vision, and energy to make a difference for diversity.


We invite you to help us in making this organization a living, working

reality. Start by giving us your ideas on building partnerships and

priorities for action. We would also like to have your suggestions for

what the organization should be called. Some of us like the "Terralingua"

name with the subtitle, but others find the "Terralingua" part

frivolous-sounding and obscure and have suggested a more straightforward

name, such as "Coalition for Biolinguistic Diversity" or, simply,

"Partnerships for Biolinguistic Diversity." What do you think? E-mail

your ideas, along with your name, mailing address, telephone/fax, and

e-mail address, along with any suggestions or comments, to:

David Harmon (Provisional Secretary)


The initial announcement of the organization is being made through e-mail

postings to a variety of lists serving the disciplines listed in the

Statement of Purpose. Based on the response, we will then do a regular

mailing to potential members and partners who do not use e-mail. On or

around 15 February 1996, those who have responded will receive a prospectus

for the organization containing a detailed statement of structure and a

preliminary plan of action. At that time you will have an opportunity to

formally join, if you wish (there is no obligation). We anticipate asking

for modest membership dues (on the order of US$10.00 per year) to fund the

operation of the organization.

With thanks in advance for your consideration,

The Terralingua Organizing Committee (gws[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]