Or the best of all worlds! I was meant to attend this conference and ended up on the organising side of things as well…and so proud of having been able to contribute to its success (over 100 participants from 28 countries and 5 continents all walks of life, from NGO representatives to lawyers, judges, professors, education specialists and young students or professors, la crème de la crème of language and law!).

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Things had been incredibly well planned and driven by one of the world’s leading experts on linguistic rights, Dr. Fernand de Varennes (and no, I’m not biased!). _DSC6985He had selected a wonderful venue, The Horizon Village Resort, far enough from Chiang Mai to keep our audience captive, but close enough to all them to visit the multiple attractions the fair city of Chiang Mai offers.

The contents (to be found on the previous post and also by clicking on this link ) were of an amazingly large scope and quality. I have retained the following ideas in a quite broad sense:

1) governments are increasingly entrusting Courts to alter the law without having to appear to their constituency as having made an unpopular language decision;

2) people are still today dying for their language and culture;

3) at a day and age of the Internet, language barriers and language laws will certainly take a new form;

4) if the cost of translation in a minority language is too high, as proclaimed by the majority language opponents, then law should be drafted in the minority language and then tranlated into the majority language!

5) Some ethnic and transnational conflicts could be eased up by granting territorial or personal rights according to the territory. The concept of Statist (as in Fascist) notion of territory is coined as we speak.

For a French Canadian perspective, click here (Gérard Lévesque contribution in L’Express (Hebdo des Francophones du Grand Toronto).

However, nothing would have been possible in terms of organization without the magnificent support of our dreamteam of volunteers,SAM_8801

Fred, Ingrid, Gabriel,  Joelle, Dougie,and , superbly managed by Christie Gardiner (here from left to right).

It’s my very first conference where participants actually come to register

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in bathing suits although for some of them coming to present a paper on language conflicts puts them in a certain degree of personal risk.

The keynotes were given by two fascinating ladies (and congratulations to Fernand to have proven that gender equality and quality were synonymous). Among the highlights of this meeting, let me recall one of my favourite moments, when Prof. Pierre Foucher, Professor Serge Roussel and Prof. Michel Doucet sang with me La Complainte du Phoque du groupe Beau Dommage. A rare moment of warm conviviality.

Prof. Premsrirat, from the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia of  Mahidol University, SAM_8838

draw an eloquent picture of the diversity of languages present in Thailand and Jannie LasimbangSAM_8924

from the UN Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples not only described her own way from grassroots indigenous childhood in Malaysia to contributing at the UN level to making a difference in keeping indigenous know-how and languages alive but she also gave the audience a moment of sheer delight by interpreting a lullaby from her people.

I have alas lost my endnotes on some speeches and will have to work out my memory to share my notes in my bibliography, but losing some made me re-discover some that had disappeared…Let me give you a small overview of some of the meeting highlights for the time-being, we’ll keep the serious contents for another post, but if you wish, do react to my blog, this is what prompts me to keep writing!

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a bathroom with a view
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registration à la De Varennes!
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Thai Lanna Dancers at the opening banquet
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la beauté est dans l’eau comme le diable est dans le détail

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