Work with Your Brain, not Tongue

Nevond youth information and legal centre of indigenous peoples

I see — I read — I ask what it means

Visual communication plays a crucial role in language proliferation. The principle I see — I read — I ask what it means — I memorize — I pass it further works really well, especially for the youth.

Based on this, the Nevond centre team came up with a project named Rada melel, ei kelel (‘Work with your brain, not tongue’). The project included design and production of merchandise, such as decals for clothes and stickers for cars, featuring catchy phrases in Karelian and Vepsian, like Kus roditoi, sigä i ristituks tegetoi (‘Where you were born is where you belong’), Rada melel, ei kelel (‘Work with your brain, not tongue’), Ala liče nena verhaze töhö (‘Don’t poke your nose into other people’s business’), Muhada! (‘Smile!’), Elä ičeiž melel (‘Live with your own mind’), Elä, armasta, uništa (‘Live, love, dream’), Pagiženvepsäks, a sinä? (‘I speak Vepsian, and you?’), Oza om! (‘Happiness exists!’), and many other.

Rada melel, ei kelel (‘Work with your brain, not tongue’) is a project promoting Karelian and Vepsian languages by means of visual communication.

The project team reached out to the local indigenous-language newspapers for distribution of the materials among the language activists across Karelia.

The merchandise was given out under a condition of its immediate application, photo-shooting and posting in the Internet with hashtags #sana2019 #indigenouslanguages #2019IYIL #IYIL2019 #radameleleikelel. Based on the hashtags, the team identified three most active participants who were awarded memorable gifts. Thus, the initiative has resulted in hundreds of photos with hashtags related not only to the Rada memel, ei kelel project, but also to the International Year of Indigenous Languages and has thus contributed to the promotion of Karelian and Vepsian as well as other indigenous languages of the world.

The project is over, but the interest is still growing

Another outcome of the project is a promotion of Karelian-language and Vepsian-language printed mass media. In particular, two newspapers — Oma Mua and Kodima — have seen an increase of their followers in the social networks.

The language activists use T-shirts, stickers, decals and hashtags as hooks that arouse public attention and curiosity. And it works, especially for the youth.

In March 2019, the Nevond centre received a grant from M. A. Castrén Society (Finland) for the continuation of the visual communication project. This stage included design and production of plastic plates featuring phrases in Karelian, Veps and Finnish for the Resource Language Media Centre of Karelians, Veps and Finns of Karelia.