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Co-designing a World for Linguistic Justice



In this candid conversation, Irene Gotera, the founder of Linguistic Justice®, sits with Dr. Gerald Roche, Associate Professor of Politics at La Trobe University, to discuss language rights and language justice, including some of the background of language oppression and its profound impact on different linguistic groups worldwide.


Gerald and Irene begin their conversation by unveiling why discussing language oppression remains a global taboo. They delve into the historical connections between language, power, and the geopolitical interest behind keeping language oppression an unaddressed issue: perpetuating State impunity.


Gerald recounts details about his experience working with oppressed communities in China; what happens to people when their language rights are violated; and how important a global grassroots movement is to promote language rights in contexts where people aren't free to do so.


Both share their reflections of childhood moments when they first began questioning the instruction received about colonization and began to see it for what it is: not some ‘glorious’ exhibition of prowess, but rather an orchestrated effort to establish social hierarchies through the destruction of human groups, along with their languages. This sweeping destruction continues to shape what is now perceived as our uncontested 'natural order of things'.


In referencing his article for ROAR Magazine ‘Speaking up in defense of language rights’, Gerald describes the parallelism of the Nation-State system with the biblical allegory of shibboleth. In Gerald’s words, the story of shibboleth is a tale that captures the dynamic driving the global loss of languages: mimic the languages of those in power or be destroyed. 


Then, to outline pathways towards creating language justice for all, Gerald and Irene sketch a vision of what a linguistically just world might entail from their perspective:

  • Fostering an anti-Capitalist mindset that centers people instead of speed and profit

  • Slowing down systems to create space for justice

  • Questioning the role of the State in perpetuating structural violence

  • Proactively raising awareness of language rights so that people can seek paths toward their liberation

  • Education for the masses around historical harms and language rights

  • Compassion for self and others


What does a linguistically just world look like to you?


TUNE IN NOW and be sure to stay tuned until the end, when Gerald shares information about his future research interests!


*Interview methods and resources

This interview was produced by Linguistic Justice® and co-created by Gerald and Irene as part of the Pilot Initiative, Spanish Group for GLAD24, and their campaign “No hay Justicia sin Derechos Lingüísticos”.


The intended purpose of this interview is to provide the audience with context on language rights and language justice, as well as demonstrate the implementation of the Linguistic Justice Principles. In particular, items number 2-Shifting Power Dynamics, and 6-The Active Role of the Interpreter.


As modeled by Irene by choosing to speak in her language, and as embodied by Gerald’s commitment to multilingualism:


"Language is a finding place, not a hiding place" (Jeanette Winterson)

 A quote brought to the GCLR by Katie Craig.

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