Since the General Conference of UNESCO proclaimed it officially on 19th November 1999, the International Mother Language Day is celebrated every year on the 21st of February since 2000. The aim is to develop awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions all over the world by promoting linguistic diversity and multilingual education.
The 21st of February represents the remembrence day in 1952, “when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bengali, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka”, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.
On the 16th of May 2007, the United Nations General Assembly called upon Member States “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world”.
- Languages ensure access to knowledge and permit its transmission and its plurality.
- Local languages are perfectly capable to transmit the most scientific knowledge in mathematics, physics, technology etc., therefore, recognizing these languages opens “the door to a great deal of often overlooked traditional scientific knowledge to enrich our overal knowledge base… Excluding languages means excluding those who speak them from their fundamental human right to scientific knowledge“.
- Languages shape minds in the broadest sense.
- They help building global citizenships.
- Intercultural understanding is only possible through language and dialogue. “In today’s world, the norm is to use at least three languages, including one local language, one language of wider communication and one international language to communicate at both the local and global levels. – Linguistic and cultural diversity are our best chance for the future: for creativity, innovation and inclusion”.
Speaking one’s motherlanguage (or fatherlanguage!) is still not something we all can take for granted, especially in places where local mother tongues are threatened by more dominant languages.
Language is not only a means of communication but it is the most powerful instrument of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.
Please join us in celebrating all our languages with a month of events, posts, promotions etc. leading up to the International Mother Language Day on 21st February 2015!
On facebook we’ve started an #IMLD campaign that aims to raise awareness that mother (and father!) languages are precious, valuable heritages in our global lifes. Our goal is to see the day celebrated widely all over the world by families, schools, communities on national and global level.
This year’s theme for the day is “Inclusion in and through education: Language counts”. This and other topics related to the values the day represents will be highlighted in the campaign which starts today, 22 January, runs for 30 days and culminates on Saturday the 21st of February when we can all celebrate together.
Join us in the campaign by visiting and liking the International Mother Language Day Celebration Facebook page and by sharing the daily posts through social media in the run-up to the day. The Facebook page will be a treasure throve of quotes, pictures, links to posts, articles, and activities to do with mother tongue, language, multilingualism, education, multiculturalism and diversity. Use the #IMLD hashtag to find others’ messages on social media and share them.