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International Flag of Language The NML premiered the International Flag of Language (IFL), the world’s first flag dedicated to language alone, at its annual dinner on Saturday, June 27, 2009. Associate Debra Kieft, who hand-sewed the 4’ by 5’ flag, brought it with her from North Carolina.

The flag is the result of a contest for school children and young adults sponsored by the Museum to design the winning entry. The contest, the Museum’s contribution to commemorate UNESCO’s International Year of Languages, ran from September to November of 2008 and received entries from all over the world. In the end, a panel of judges, experts in languages and vexillology, picked the winning entries and determined the final design. First place winners (a tie) were Mr. Peter Klumpenhower, Grants, New Mexico, and Tedi Dessin, Middletown, Delaware, who both offered tree designs similar to the final result. Both received cash awards and plaques. Runners-up were Elena Erbez, Spain; Karly Soulas, West Chester, Pennsylvania; and Jay Lago, Dade City, Florida. All five individuals received a membership in the Museum.

The judges liked the idea of a tree to represent languages. The three shades of green leaves represent living languages, dead languages, and future languages respectively on a brown two-tone tree trunk. The stylish curves flowing away from the tree represent the spread of knowledge gained from languages. Debra’s flag is currently displayed at the Museum. “Although the flag belongs to the Museum now, it also belongs to the world,” Greg Nedved explained.

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