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Press release
Language.  BARCELONA,  15/06/2017

The linguist Jon Landaburu will receive the XXVII Ramon Llull International Prize for Catalan Linguistics and Linguistic Diversity

The jury of the Ramon Llull International Prize have decided unanimously to award this distinction in the field of linguistic diversity to Professor Jon Landaburu, a specialist in Amerindian languages. Professor Landaburu is an important linguist, distinguished for his defence and protection of the native languages of Latin America and his work in bilingual education in those contexts. He has taught at the University of Paris and the University of the Andes (Bogotá)


This year the members of the jury are Marta Rovira, Miquel Strubell and Josep Massot, for the Catalan Culture Congress Foundation; and Vicenç Villatoro, Joaquim Torres, Manuel Pérez-Saldanya and Teresa Cabré for the Ramon Llull Foundation.

In recent years the winners have been Kathryn Woolard (2016), Philip D. Rasico (2015), Juan Carlos Moreno Cabrera (2014), Max Wheeler (2013), Georg Kremnitz (2012), Malika Ahmed (2010), Denise Boyer (2009), Michael van Walt van Praag (2008), Alan Yates (2007), Tilbert Stegmann (2006), Paul Preston (2005) and Giuspeppe Tavani (2004).

Jon Landaburu Illarramendi

Jon Landaburu was born in Paris in 1943, the son of Republican exiles. His father was vice-president of the Balearic government in exile. He has double French and Colombian nationality and his academic career has developed between the two countries.

He is a doctor in Letters and Human Sciences from the Sorbonne (1976), has taught at the University of Paris and the University of the Andes (Bogotá), lecturing in subjects such as linguistics, anthropology and Basque grammar and especially Amerindian languages. He is director emeritus at the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France in the field of Amerindian languages. He is also “euskaltzain ohorezko” (honorary member) of the Euskaltzaindia.

His main lines of research are:

a) theoretical linguistics, and more specifically, a comparative analysis of the syntactic and semantic constructions of the Amerindian languages of Colombia (e.g. the categorisation of the cognitive domains of the person, of time, of space and of modality);

b) descriptive linguistics, focused fundamentally on three endangered Amerindian languages: Andoque and Nonuya from Amazonia, and Ika from the Serra Nevada de Santa Marta;

c) applied linguistics, especially the problems of the schooling of the indigenous peoples in a bilingual context, the transition of societies from the oral tradition to writing, and the analysis and design of language policies in favour of the Amerindian languages, and

d) ethnolinguistics, with studies of the religious symbolism of the Andoque culture and neighbouring cultures.

As well as many publications on those issues, he has also supervised and advised on master’s and doctoral theses. His skill and dedication have been decisive in the processes of training native linguists.

Among his publications the following works stand out:  La langue des Andoke (1979), Tradiciones de la gente de la Hacha, Mitología de los indios andoques de las Amazonas (1984, in collaboration), educational notebooks in the Andoque language (1992-94), Estructuras sintácticas de la predicación: lenguas amerindias de Colombia (1995, editor and author), Faits de langue (2003, co-author and co-editor), L’énonciation médiatisée II. Le traitement épistémologique de l’information: illustrations amérindiennes et caucasiennes (2007, co-author and co-editor); Documentos sobre lenguas aborígenes de Colombia del archivo de Paul Rivet (1996-1999, editor of the four volumes).

As adviser to the Colombian Ministry of Culture he was commissioned to design and direct the Programme for the Protection of Ethnolinguistic Diversity, whose aim was to launch public policies to protect and promote the use of the 68 languages present in Colombia (65 Amerindian, two Creole and Romany). One of the most important results of that collaboration with the Colombian government was the Native Languages Law, approved in January 2009. He has also been coordinator of the translation programme of the 1991 Political Constitution into the Amerindian languages.

In acknowledgement of his work, in 2012 he won the Linguapax Prize, which recognises the work by linguists, investigators, teachers and members of civil society who have stood out in the promotion of linguistic diversity or multilingual education.

Awarded by the Ramon Llull Foundation and the Catalan Culture Congress Foundation

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The Institut Ramon Llull is a consortium that comprises the Generalitat (Government of Catalonia), Balearic Islands Government and the Barcelona City Council, and its mission is the promotion of Catalan language and culture abroad.
Generalitat de Catalunya Govern de les Illes Balears Ajuntament de Barcelona
The IRL forms part of the Fundació Ramon Llull, which was established by the Government of Andorra, the Ramon Llull Institute, General Council of the Eastern Pyrenees, the city of Alghero, Balearic Islands Towns and Entities Network and the group of Valencian Cities, and has its central offices in Andorra.
Fundació Ramon Llull