Celebrating International Mother Language Day
February 21,2012 by Wycliffe Bible Translators USA
Love Your Language
Today, February 21,is Unesco’s International Mother Language Day—a celebration of linguistic diversity and richness of the nearly seven thousand languages spoken around the world.
International Mother Language Day has been celebrated since a UN resolution in 1999,but the history goes back much further. In 1949,Urdu was declared the national language in Bangladesh (then East Pakistan). Bangla (Bengali) speakers,eager to maintain their own linguistic identity,protested. Mother Language Day’s date comes from the crisis point reached on February 21,1952,when students involved in a protest were killed by police. Their deaths are remembered in Bangladesh on this day every year.
Bengali is now one of the most widely spoken languages in the world. But many languages communities,whose languages are not used as widely,still suffer discrimination and oppression. International Mother Language Day calls for respect for all languages:
“Mother languages,along with linguistic diversity,matter for the identity of individuals. As sources of creativity and vehicles for cultural expression,they are also important for the health of societies…. Mother language instruction is a powerful way to fight discrimination.” —Unesco Director-General speaking last year.
2012 Theme:Mother-Tongue Education
This year’s theme is mother-tongue education. Most people can’t learn to read and write in a language they don’t know. When education isn’t available first in their mother tongue before a secondary language,children—usually those speaking minority languages—have trouble advancing in literacy and other education.
People’s heart languages are central to culture,community,education,and identity. Wycliffe’s work seeks to promote the use and love of people’s own language,whether through Bible translation,literacy work,mother-tongue education programs,or encouraging use of the Scriptures in the mother tongue.
We want to celebrate mother languages in practical ways. Find out how you could join Wycliffe in supporting minority languages around the world.
(This was originally posted on Wycliffe UK’s blog site.)