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Otavalo and Cotacachi come together to revitalize the Kichwa Language

Otavalo and Cotacachi come together to revitalize the Kichwa Language

In Otavalo and Cotacachi a study will be made about the use of the Kichwa language in these two cantons of Imbabura. The sociolinguistic research will be carried out after obtaining a technical cooperation agreement between the local municipalities, Kichwashun and the Garabide Association of the Basque Country (Spain).

The agreement was signed within the framework of the International Day of Mother Tongues, which is commemorated every February 21. The objective is to make a linguistic planning to revitalize the Kichwa.

According to Otavalo Mayor Mario Conejo, there is a generation of urban Otavalo Kichwa´s that is committed to transforming the city. However, given the different knowledge they have inherited from their ancestors, they have forgotten the language. “I am part of a generation in which parents raised children without speaking Kichwa. Only when I was an adult did I start practicing the language. ”

It is estimated that seven out of 10 parents do not transmit the native language within the family. This language is in danger of being lost, warns Julen Larrañaga, Garabide representative for Ecuador. This non-governmental organization, created 15 years ago in the Basque Country, offers training for the recovery of the Kichwa. It has been present in Ecuador about a decade ago. Its members have shared the process to normalize and revitalize Basque or Basque language, in which they have been 60 years, with 15 other linguistic communities in the world. “We always emphasize that we have an experience to tell, but it is not a unique model. Every town has to make their own, ”says Larrañaga.

In Imbabura, a team composed of technicians from the four entities will prepare the study, which is expected to be presented next September. The data provided by the analysis will be used to prepare a framework document, which enables linguistic planning and its application in the first years.

To implement these guidelines, a commission will be created consisting of the councils, Kichwashun and Garabide. For Patxi Baztarrika, technician of the Andoain city council, who collaborates with the Basque association, the planning will allow defining an objective to curb this loss of family transmission as quickly as possible and encourage the normalized use of Kichwa. To achieve that goal, several levels are needed. The linguistic planning technician considers that the will of the population of each jurisdiction is key.

The international organization will also accompany the creation of a municipal linguistic policy during the first years. The councils are committed to assign permanent technicians and economic resources to fulfill the proposal, starting in 2021.

In Otavalo and Cotacachi, several activities have been carried out to recover the Kichwa, but no lasting results have been obtained. Auki Tituaña, mayor of Cotacachi canton, believes that it is necessary to start this long-term process. In the city of Ibarra, about 40 activists participated in the first international Kichwa Revitalization Strategies course. It is an initiative promoted by the organization Karanki Sisary and Garabide. The purpose of the new process is to train representatives of communes and organizations to work on language recovery projects.

This content has been originally published by Diario EL COMERCIO at the following address: https://www.elcomercio.com/tendencia/otavalo-cotacachi-union-kichwa-intercultural.html

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