Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile: Plurilingualism, language and territory

“The Plurilingualism Seminar has recently been held , organized by the Territorial Knowledge Network, an alliance in which the UC Center for Public Policies , the UC Center for Local Development (CEDEL), the Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies (CIIR) participate. , the Villarrica Campus of the UC , the Institute of Indigenous and Intercultural Studies of the Universidad de la Frontera, with the important support of the Swiss Embassy. Since 2020, the group of academics and researchers – Mapuche kimelfe mapudungun mew – from the Villarrica Campus and the Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies, has been working on the Mapuzugun linguistic revitalization initiative, from which this Forum on Plurilingualism arises. The objective has been to share experiences and learn from the different realities of other latitudes.

In many countries of the world multilingualism is a reality, one of them is Switzerland, co-organizer of this forum. In this country there are four official languages ​​that are distributed territorially in the different cantons (regions) throughout the country, whose experience we have known and appreciated. According to UNESCO, the disappearance of the original languages ​​is considered a loss of heritage for humanity. In the current context, Mapuzugun – the language of the Mapuche people – is in a process of disappearance. Intergenerational transmission as a mother tongue has been practically interrupted and it is estimated that less than 10% of the population that identifies as Mapuche speaks the language. A similar situation is evident with other native languages ​​in the country, despite the fact that there is less research and information in each specific language.

“Since 2020, the group of academics and researchers – Mapuche kimelfe mapudungun mew – from the Villarrica Campus and the Center for Intercultural and Indigenous Studies, has been working on the initiative for the linguistic revitalization of Mapuzugun, from which this Forum on Plurilingualism arises. The objective has been to share experiences and learn from the different realities of other latitudes “- Rector Ignacio Sánchez.

For two decades now, efforts have been made by the national educational system, through the implementation of the Intercultural Bilingual Education Program.and later with the incorporation of the Indigenous Language sector in the school curriculum. However, despite the effort made by these actions and initiatives, the decline in the number of speakers of native languages ​​has not been reversed. Hence, the need arises to explore new ways of generating processes of revitalization and generation of new speakers, as well as the incorporation of these languages ​​into the different social spaces of communication. In this context, this Forum, which raises the issue of multilingualism, has been very timely since it incorporates the perspective of linguistic rights and issues of officialization as necessary strategies to substantively advance in the revitalization of native languages.

Until now, the status of a language other than Spanish in a specific territory has been a discussion generated from local levels, with some municipal experiences that have advanced in the officialization of Mapuzugun in the Araucanía region. However, in the context of the national discussion on the new constitution and with the leadership of the president of the Constitutional Convention, Elisa Loncon, -researcher professor at CIIR-, multilingualism is transformed into a milestone of recognition of cultural diversity and linguistics of peoples and territories in the country.

“The link between language and people is evident and is established as a right by international organizations such as the UN and the ILO.In addition to this vision, it is necessary to incorporate the relationship between language and territory, very necessary for intercultural coexistence, respect and revitalization of cultures “- rector Ignacio Sánchez.


The link between language and people is evident and is established as a right by international organizations such as the UN and ILO.In addition to this vision, it is necessary to incorporate the relationship between language and territory, which is very necessary for intercultural coexistence, respect and the revitalization of cultures. Our university has expressed its commitment to the territories, -we are developing a network of regional research stations and the creation of new knowledge extended in our country-, so we believe it is important to be able to contribute to the discussion and the search for strategies that allow us to advance in the revitalization of native languages ​​and peoples. This Forum has offered us an opportunity to reflect on the relationships between multilingualism, from a perspective of the rights of individuals and communities, together with their links with peoples and territories.

The experience of other countries, -in this case Switzerland that has collaborated with this initiative-, allows us to learn from its history as a multilingual country, in order to develop this forum and a set of activities aimed at strengthening reflection and action around these thematic. The work being carried out by our university around being able to promote interculturality within the institution, -which can have an impact on the university system as a whole-, will allow us to advance in inclusion and diversity within our higher education institutions . This, on the one hand, will allow us to advance the quality of our university project, and on the other, it will allow us to expand this valuable diversity and new opportunities throughout the country. A great desire and project to develop in community ”.

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