21 February is celebrated as International Mother Language Day. It has been observed by the United Nations since 2000 to celebrate and promote linguistic and cultural diversity in the world. It not only increases awareness about languages but also calls for policies and strategies in favour of multilingualism across the globe.
Language is a unique gift that separates humans from other living beings. It gives us the liberty to express ourselves and our emotions, communicate effectively, and form strong bonds with one another. Language is an integral part of any culture as it helps in social integration too. Unfortunately though, due to globalization, many languages across the world are soon becoming obsolete and linguistic diversity is under threat. Sadly, along with a language, the entire cultural and intellectual heritage is lost. According to the United Nations, a language disappears every two weeks. Further, around 40 per cent of the population of the world does not have access to education in a language that they can understand or speak. These statistics are shocking! They emphasise the need to celebrate linguistic diversity across the world and mitigate the risks that languages are under.
The theme for The International Mother Language Day for 2019 is ‘Indigenous Languages as a factor in Development, Peace and Reconciliation.’ This is in harmony with 2019 being declared the International Year of Indigenous Languages.
The United Nations also released a new series of stamps in 41 languages to commemorate this day.
Today, let us pledge to not lose the essence of our mother language and to promote it as much as we can.
Happy Mother Language Day everyone!0