As a result of the project, an interactive virtual exhibition about Latgalian and Norwegian Nynorsk will be prepared within two years, intended for a wide audience, from high school students to language researchers and language policy makers.
With the slogan Working together for an inclusive Europe, the Language Museum Association, the LgSC association and the Norwegian Museum of Written Culture (Nynorsk kultursentrum; Norway) are beginning the implementation of the project The Latgalian and Nynorsk language exhibition: cooperation and experiences in the development of modern digital solutions, funded by the Fund for Bilateral Relations of the EEA and Norway grants 2014-2021.
In both Latvia and Norway, the state language has two written traditions, each having ancient, historical roots, and a separate culture associated with each. The users of the lesser used variants, Latgalian and Nynorsk, have always fought to obtain and maintain the status of their languages, for their equality as language users in society and to prevent stigmatization. For a language to flourish, both its existing and potential users need to be encouraged to use it, and they need to be given the opportunity to speak and write in their own language. In addition, it is necessary for the wider society to realize the value of the lesser used language, to perceive it as a valuable part of the common heritage of the entire nation, which needs support and development.
One of the goals of the project is to develop long-term cooperation between Latvian and Norwegian organizations; we took the first step in establishing and strengthening this cooperation in September of this year, when we visited Ørsta in Norway, where one of the three institutions managed by Norwegian cooperation partners, The Ivar Aasen Museum (Ivar Aasen-tunet), is located. It is based around the oldest memorial museum in the world, the roots of which can be traced back to 1898. Ivar Aasen (1813–1896) was the founder of Norwegian dialectology and lexicography, and creator of the Nynorsk written language. The museum dedicated to him is one of the main centres for the development and strengthening of the Nynorsk language in Norway. The experience of the Norwegian Museum of Written Culture in both language policy making, strengthening the status of Nynorsk as a language and applying modern museological practices to Latvian partner organisations is an irreplaceably important source of inspiration and knowledge.
During the visit, we discussed the project implementation strategy and the necessary steps to create the best virtual exhibition possible about the Latvian and Nynorsk languages in the context of civic engagement. In addition, we learned more about Ivar Aasen, the Nynorsk language, the history and operation strategy of the Ivar Aasen Museum, as well as introducing our Norwegian partners to the Language Museum Association, House of Languages, the LgSC association and the Latgalian language itself.
It is planned to work on creating the content of the exhibition (a study on both languages), identifying the best museological practices and strengthening our cooperation, implemented within the framework of two visits, when our Norwegian partners arrive in Riga.
As Tone Slenes, Head of the Nynorsk Written Culture Department of the Norwegian Museum of Written Culture, pointed out, this is an exciting collaboration. The project is in line with the strategy of Norwegian Museum of Written Culture, which focuses, among other things, on making the diversity of the world’s languages more visible: “We will be able to do this by cooperating with representatives of European minority languages on measures and methods to preserve and strengthen linguistic diversity, and by cooperating with language museums all over the world to exchange knowledge about languages and communication.”
Elīna Kokareviča, head of the board of the Language Museum Association, and board member, linguist and Norwegian language specialist Snorre Karkkonen Svensson, the initiator of the project, emphasise how important this project and the cooperation with the Norwegian Museum of Written Culture are for the Language Museum Association, whose goal is to create a language museum in Latvia within ten years. “But the pandemic has shown us that we also need to think about new museological approaches and practices, so we decided to work on creating a virtual exhibition, which will be a special challenge, because we want to create an exhibition about languages in a way that a wider audience will find it quite exciting,” say representatives of the society.
More about the project and involved organizations: Exhibition on Latgalian and Nynorsk: cooperation and experience creating modern digital solutions.
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