Report from the Sounds of Advocacy, Language and Liberation Conference

Two founding members of the Guyanese Languages Unit, Tamirand De Lisser and Charlene Wilkinson, attended the conference ‘Sounds of Advocacy, Language and Liberation’ held at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in Jamaica from October 25 to 27.

The event was held in honour of Professor Hubert Devonish and was organised by his past and present students and the staff of the Jamaican Language Unit. It extended over three days and attracted participants from the Caribbean and international community.

All the papers presented covered areas of research, teaching and advocacy inspired by the professor’s work, such as language and the law, language and African diasporic identities, language death, orthography, academic literacies, bilingual education, Bible translation, language and sexuality, language rights, linguistic discrimination, language policy, language in the media, language and Caribbean music, phonetics and phonology, syntax and semantics, indigenous languages and creole linguistics.

The paper by Wilkinson and de Lisser was presented on October 26 in the concluding session of the conference:

Daidrah Smith-Telfer: Wa no ded no dash we: Language revitalisation efforts in Wakapoa – The case of Lokono (Arawak)

Ian Robertson: Losing linguistic competence: Two Berbice Dutch case samples

Audene Henry-Harvey: Linguistic fieldwork in a ritual context: A model

Charlene Wilkinson & Tamirand Nnena De Lisser: Colloquium 2016 and the Emergence of the Guyanese Languages Unit at the University of Guyana

The paper described the activism carried out and the challenges faced in the establishment of the Guyanese Languages Unit (GLU) at the University of Guyana (UG). It outlined the role of the Colloquium 2016 in envisioning the action plan which inspired the proposal for setting up the GLU. It also detailed the works that the unit has been involved in and provided insights into the GLU’s plan of action for mobilising language policy and planning in Guyana.

This conference provided an opportunity for participants to exchange ideas, get feedback on research, open avenues for collaborative work and, in general, broaden their knowledge. Wilkinson and de Lisser said: “We are particularly pleased that we were able to participate. We would like to thank Vice Chancellor Griffith, for funding most of our expenses – airfare and accommodation – and the Faculty of Education and Humanities for funding our conference fees and per diem. We would be delighted to share our presentation with the University of Guyana community and possibly the wider public.”

Text reworked from a report by Charlene Wilkinson and Tamirand de Lisser, ‘Report on the Sounds of Advocacy, Language and Liberation Conference’ dated November 12 2018.

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