Posted on Thursday, February 21, 02013 by Karin Wiecha
Today mother tongues will be celebrated world wide. This date was chosen by UNESCO in recognition of the Bengali language movement, where on February 21, 01952, students protested for their language to become an official national language. Several protesters taking part in the demonstration were killed by police. The celebration of International Mother Language Day reminds us of the importance of linguistic diversity and the human right to use one’s mother tongue, no matter how few speakers it might have, to be preserved and passed on to future generations.
The theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day is Books for Mother Tongue Education. This theme highlights the importance of mother tongue education for the survival of linguistic diversity. For a large number of languages there are no books or teaching materials. But with a majority language being the language of instruction at school, children of minority language speech communities have little chance to become literate in their mother tongue. Also many young speakers are prone to switch to a globally more dominant language when they realize that the use of their mother tongue does not allow them to take part in all walks of modern life. Mother tongue education is an important step towards preserving the world’s language diversity for the future.
Today and in the coming days people all over the globe are celebrating this diversity in a variety of events. Do you want to help raise awareness of the importance of linguistic diversity? You could help The Long Now Foundation's PanLex Project translate “mother tongue” in as many languages as possible. You could also print the official International Mother Language Day 02013 poster and hang it at school or work. For more ideas on how to get involved, visit the UNESCO's website.