This week saw the celebration of International Mother Language Day, the day which is in its 12th year, celebrates our languages around the world. International Mother Language Day was announced by the UN in November 1999 and has been celebrated every year since February 2000 by the member states of the United Nations General Assembly, helping to promote “unity in diversity” with the aid of multilingualism and multiculturalism.
The day can trace its routes back to 1952 when students demonstrated for the recognition of their language, Bengali; to become a recognised language of Pakistan, in what was to become the Bengali Language Movement. This led to the events of February 21st when a number of students were killed by police in Dhaka protesting for the right of their language to be recognised officially. (The picture features the monument dedicated to those students killed)
The UN itself states that “Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.”
It’s great to see some leadership on the cause to learn languages when so often they are forgotten. It would be a standing testament to the globalised world and multicultural societies we live in today to see this day continued to be promoted around the globe in years to come.