Today is the International Mother Language Day.
There are approximately 7000 different language spoken in the world. It’s crucial to acknowledge and celebrate this spectrum, because according to studies by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) 50% of these languages will disappear in the next few generations. This is mostly due to globalisation. Currently, only a few hundred languages are used in education systems around the world, and less than a hundred languages in the digital world.
Globalization continuously threatens our array of languages. This is why, in 1999, the International Mother Language Day was first proclaimed by the UN and it’s been celebrated every year on February 22nd, since 2000. The date represents the day in 1952 when two students were shot and killed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, for demonstrating for the recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the national languages of Pakistan.
Languages are important for many reasons. First of all, languages preserve heritage. Language guards the most fundamental values, traditions, beliefs, stories, and histories of any culture. We can say that the nature of a culture is in its language. Therefore, it’s simple to understand that if languages fade the cultural diversity of our world fades.
Second of all, languages are the core of communication, and communication changes the world. UNESCO says that we must aim for “unity in diversity, and international understanding through multilingualism and multiculturalism.”
2008 was chosen as the International Year of Languages, because in addition to migration and trade, the 21st century brings new threats to languages: technology and the internet. That’s why, this year, the International Mother Language Day promotes “information and communication technologies for the safeguarding and promotion of languages and linguistic diversity.”
Finally, when we think of the importance of language we may agree with Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish novelist and poet (author of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde):
“Man is a creature who lives not upon bread alone, but primarily by catchwords.”
Happy International Mother Language Day to All!
Other celebrations in February: