Did you ever wonder about the power and purpose of your mother tongue? If not, let us fill your curiosity with a few interesting insights.
Mother Tongue: It is one's native language. It binds people in a community. It makes communication easier among people as it promotes expressing feelings, interests and ideas in the snuggest way. In addition, it also facilitates the preservation of a group's cultural heritage and identity. Therefore, we need to protect our language and preserve it for future generations.
Foundation by Bangladesh: In consideration of the above points, Bangladesh fought for the recognition of their regional language "Bangla", which led to the UN's announcement of 21st February to celebrate the significance of mother language and termed it as "International mother language day".
History of International Mother Language Day
After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, its two regions, West Pakistan and East Pakistan, i.e., currently Bangladesh, were entirely different in culture, language and not even connected by land.
Rise of conflict
In the first constituent assembly held in 1948, the Pakistani government proposed to declare Urdu as the sole national language. People of East Pakistan protested as their mother language, Bangla was excluded. They demanded the inclusion of Bangla in the national languages in addition to Urdu. Protests and rallies were initiated to support the demand. To end the protest, the then Pakistani government outlawed all public meetings and rallies. The Dhaka university students continued to conduct massive rallies and meetings and displayed their agitation towards the government's decisions.
Government's addition of fuel to the fire
In 1952, police passed fire on rallies, killing approximately four student protesters and injuring many others. The infuriated protest ended in 1956 when the Pakistani government agreed to grant official status to Bangla. Since then, every year on 21st February, the Bangladeshis visit the Shaheed Minar to honour the martyrs.
Announcement of 21st February as the Day of Honours
The decision to mark 21st February as the International Mother Language Day was suggested by expatriate Rafiqul Islam. Rafiqul Islam sent a letter to UN general secretary Kofi Annan on Jan 9, 1998. In his letter, he requested to take measures to save world languages from extinction by declaring international mother language day. He proposed 21st February as the date, which reminds the 1952 life sacrifices at Dhaka during the language movement.
In November 1999, at a general conference, UNESCO proclaimed 21st February as International Mother Language Day, and it has been observed across the globe since 2000.
International Mother Language Day 2022 Date
When is International Mother Language Day 2022?
International Mother Language Day for the year 2022 is celebrated/observed on Monday, 21 Feb.
International Mother Language Day dates for the years 2022, 2023, 2024, 2025, and 2026
|2022||Mon||21 Feb||International Mother Language Day||United Nations observance|
|2023||Tue||21 Feb||International Mother Language Day||United Nations observance|
|2024||Wed||21 Feb||International Mother Language Day||United Nations observance|
|2025||Fri||21 Feb||International Mother Language Day||United Nations observance|
|2026||Sat||21 Feb||International Mother Language Day||United Nations observance|
Significance of International Mother Language Day
It is the day dedicated to the celebration of linguistic and cultural diversity. UNESCO has been of a great influence in the promotion of mother tongue-based multilingual education. According to a research report from Ethnologue, the world approximately has 7100 languages, out of which 40% are endangered. It also states that half of the world's population communicate in 23 languages. International mother language day is a reminder of how language connects us, empowers us and helps us transparently share our intentions.
Purpose of the Celebration
Languages are vital for the progress of society and communication among people. The objective of the day is to create awareness on the preservation and promotion of mother tongue languages. It also commemorates the struggle of Bangladesh to protect its regional language, "Bangla".
The aim was to protect the diverse cultural and intellectual heritage of different regions of the world.
International Year of Languages
The UN general assembly proclaimed 2008 as the international year of languages for the promotion and protection of linguistic diversity and multilingualism.
International Year of Indigenous Languages
This year, the day is being celebrated as the international year of indigenous languages. The day is to raise awareness of the consequences of losing indigenous languages across the world. The UN hopes its efforts support the revitalization and maintenance of the indigenous language.
Application for Development
The international day of mother language has led to growing awareness that languages play a vital role in the development and ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. It also leads to quality education for all in preserving cultural heritage and bringing the benefits of science and technology to all to bring about sustainable development.
Threat of Extinction
Languages have had a strategic role in the evolution of mankind and the planet. They have had the struggle for identity, the spread of information, social integration, education and development. But globalization processes have increasingly put them under threat.
According to the UN, every two weeks a language disappears, the world loses its entire cultural and intellectual heritage.
Applications, religious rituals, unique perspectives and expressions, valuable information for ensuring a better future are also lost. When languages fade, so does the world's rich treasure of cultural diversity.
The reasons stated by the United nations are
- Job loss
Ways to Tackle Extinction
One possible solution is that the children must be taught to communicate in their language at home, to make them comfortable with their cultural identity. However, due to the pressure of globalization, they are increasingly under threat of disappearing altogether. That is why it is essential to encourage the use of one's mother tongue to preserve our linguistic and cultural diversity.
Academics: A proposal for the introduction of Mother languages into the education system has been accepted by the government. However, only a few hundred languages have genuinely been placed in education systems and public domains. And less than 100 are used in the digital platforms.
Another possible way is to offer language courses with certifications, which would foster individuals to pursue professions like tourist guides, translators, language experts, docents and thereby save the heritage.
Celebration of the Victory
International mother language day is celebrated across the globe and has played a major role in contributing to the strength of various cultures. Let us look at celebrations in different parts of the globe.
The day is declared as a national holiday in Bangladesh, honouring the Martyrs sacrifice. The Bangladeshis take pride in celebrating the day to display respect to the Martyr's courageous deeds by organizing book fairs, cultural events at universities and schools and sharing the importance of literature and language among the nationals for a better country. And not to forget, the citizens visit Shaheed Minor and show respect for bravery.
An awareness campaign is held in the presence of government officials to encourage linguistic diversity with the conduct of cultural activities, including singing, dancing, and sharing poetry in different languages.
Rest of the world
In previous years, UNESCO had organized webinars promoting multilingualism. The continual efforts by the UN, UNESCO left a global impact leading to the conduct of awareness events in most of the educational institutions on a global level to teach the importance of mother tongue.
Some Interesting Facts
- On 18th July of 2018, Rajya Sabha Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu has set a record by communicating in ten languages for the announcement of the introduction of a simultaneous interpretation facility for 22 Indian languages.
- This day is also known as Matrubhasha Diwas in India.
- A document published by UNESCO says, "In addition – research increasingly shows that children's ability to learn a second language or additional language does not suffer when their mother tongue is the primary language of instruction throughout primary schools". This indicates that the Mother's tongue is crucial for the development of individuals.
- "Telugu Baasha Theeyadanam" is a song made in Telugu to describe the importance and beauty of the mother language.
- In India, the eighth schedule of the constitution recognizes 22 languages, including Assamese, Bengali, Bodo, Bogri, Hindi, Gujarati, Kannada, Kashmiri, among others.
- India has a hidden language – Koro, the language that people only use in remote villages of Arunachal Pradesh. Koro is staring at extinction.
Let's cherish the roots of our culture and spread love and knowledge throughout the world.
"हम प्रेम से पैदा हुए हैं, प्रेम हमारी मातृ भाषा है।"