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Applied Linguistics Review

Editor-in-Chief: Wei, Li

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Keeping the promise of the Millennium Development Goals: Why language matters

Suzanne Romaine
Published Online: 2013-03-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2013-0001


The adoption of the Millennium Declaration in 2000 by 189 member-states of the United Nations defined a critical moment for global cooperation as leaders committed themselves to achieve eight specific development objectives known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015. As the largest and arguably most ambitious initiative on the international development agenda, the MDGs have become the normative framework for human development, and the MDG language of goals and targets now shapes the global debate about how to define and measure development. Examination of the progress achieved thus far towards the MDGs pinpoints language at the very heart of major fault lines in the development process: those most often left behind are language minorities. Keeping the promise of the MDGs requires a new understanding of the critical role of language in human development. Because there can be no true development with linguistic development, only by putting language at the center of development can we close the gaps and meet key targets of the MDGs and other global agendas such as Education for All (EFA) and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). This article issues an urgent call for linguists to make their voices heard.

Keywords: multilingualism; development; Millennium Development Goals; policy; planning

About the article

Suzanne Romaine

Suzanne Romaine has been Merton Professor of English Language at the University of Oxford since 1984. Her research interests lie primarily in problems of societal multilingualism, linguistic diversity, language change, language acquisition, language revitalization and language contact. She is co-author (with Daniel Nettle) of Vanishing Voices. The Extinction of the world's languages (Oxford University Press), which won the British Association for Applied Linguistics Book of the Year Prize in 2001.

University of Oxford

Published Online: 2013-03-28

Published in Print: 2013-03-29

Citation Information: Applied Linguistics Review, Volume 4, Issue 1, Pages 1–21, ISSN (Online) 1868-6311, ISSN (Print) 1868-6303, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2013-0001.

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