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February 21: International Mother Language Day

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International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is being celeberated today globally. The day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999.

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IMLD has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.  The date, February 21, represents the day in 1952 when students from different educational institutions such as-Dhaka University, Jagannath University and Dhaka Medical College-demonstrating for their language, Bengali, as one of the two national languages of the Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, which is the capital of present-day Bangladesh.

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Projects on languages and multilingualism take many forms- building capacity, research and analysis, raising awareness, supporting projects, developing networks, disseminating information and have diverse outreach (local, regional or global). These activities are often interdisciplinary, but they can also address particular aspects of languages issues, including educational initiatives, projects in the field of science, social and human sciences, culture-centered projects and communication and information initiatives.

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“It is estimated that up to 7,000 different languages are spoken around the world. 90% are used by less than 100,000 people. 2,200 of the world’s languages can be found in Asia, while Europe has a mere 260. The world’s most spoken languages by number of native speakers and as a second language are Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Bengali, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese, German and French”, reported by BBC.

2015 is the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day.

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One comment

  1. I hope that Esperanto was not forgotten today. Esperanto is a planned language which belongs to no one country or group of states. Using it brings speakers of different mother tongues together without having to resort to English or a strong regional language.

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