In the UK, many local and national government services are promoted in other languages other than the ‘home’ languages of English, Scots Gaelic, and Welsh. It is recognised that in order to reach people you need to reach out in their language. While this is not necessarily supported by certain elements of British society, it is widely understood to contribute to a people’s inclusion. The use of languages would tend to reflect the language mix relating to the target area so it is reasonable to expect that certain London Boroughs, for example, would promote their services in several languages. In Lambeth, for example, it is possible to request documentation in twelve languages in addition to English.
In Guatemala, there are 22 recognised Mayan languages which are spoken by their respective populations. Yet without having Spanish, or Castellano
, access to services is severely restricted. This short film
from Al Jazeera shows that things are changing but there is a recognition that the power still rests with the dominant culture and its media outlets. It is, however, quite a hopeful piece and does remind me of another short film about what identity
means in Guatemala.