QU hosts symposium addresses threats faced by local languages
February 22 2018 07:38 PM
A speaker at the symposium
A speaker at the symposium


The Centre for Humanities and Social Sciences (CHSS) at Qatar University College of Arts and Sciences (QU-CAS) hosted a symposium on “Language and Nature in Southern and Eastern Arabia”, to examine the symbiotic relationship between local languages and nature in southern and eastern Arabia through a multidisciplinary network of ecosystem and humanities.

The event brought together experts from Canada, Oman, Qatar, Russia, The Netherlands, the UK, and the US.

The opening session featured remarks by CHSS director professor Kaltham al-Ghanim and professor of Linguistics at Leeds University professor Janet Watson.

The event’s programme featured numerous sessions delivered by speakers from QU, Leiden University (The Netherlands), Middlebury College (US), Ministry of Education in Oman, National Research University (Russia), Royal Botanical Gardens (UK), Sultan Qaboos University (Oman), University of Carleton (Canada), and University of Leeds (UK). Discussions focused on a wide range of topics such as “The Modern South Arabian languages”, “Poetry, figurative language and nature in Modern South Arabian poetry”, “Is the Qatari dialect an endangered language?”, “Kumzari and the languages of Musandam”, “Flora of Southern and Eastern Arabia”, and more.

Professor al-Ghanim said, “Local languages are under threat in many parts of the world, this is of global concern because these languages reflect the close relationship between people and their natural environment, embodying the complex relationship with landscape and seasons. When the languages are lost, these connections are broken. Areas of the world which enjoy the greatest language diversity tend to exhibit the greatest biodiversity, and loss of the one commonly precipitates loss in the other.”

Professor Watson said, “This event, which comes within an Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK funded international network, is the first interdisciplinary symposium to examine the language – nature relationship in southern and eastern Arabia. The symposium brings together participants from 11 different disciplines, from seven different states and speakers of eleven different languages.”

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