Let's pay tribute to our Mother Tongue - International Mother Language Day '18
Let's pay tribute to our Mother Tongue - International Mother Language Day '18 | Credit: TSU Website

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Let's pay tribute to our Mother Tongue - International Mother Language Day '18

Feb 21, 2018

Great leader Nelson Mandela had wonderfully expressed, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart”. 

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have taken the initiative to celebrate February 21 as International Mother Language Day worldwide every year. The practice was established 20 years back in 1999 to put an end to the degeneration of language and culture and protect all the mother tongues spoken across the world. The events also commemorate the killing of four students on February 21, 1952, who was campaigning to use their mother language, Bengali, in Bangladesh.

What is the significance of International Mother Tongue Day? 

There are more than 7,000 languages spoken across the world. Our linguistic is endangered and on an average one language is disappearing every week along with the culture and heritage associated with the language. 

So it is important to raise awareness around it to promote linguistic, cultural diversity and multilingualism so that people maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. The day is celebrated as a reminder that linguistic diversity and multilingualism are essential for sustainable development. It also encourages mother tongue-based multilingual education in the early years of schooling.

International Mother Tongue Day 2018

As the world celebrates the 70th anniversary of 'Universal Declaration of Human Rights' the chosen theme focuses on ‘no discrimination can be made on the basis of language'. This message has been translated in more than 500 languages. The Declaration beholds that every person is privileged to experience all rights and freedoms irrespective of race, colour, sex, language, religion, national or social origin, property, birth and status.

UNESCO wants the practice to start at the preliminary levels from schools where teachers should make every student aware of the value of mother tongue to introduce themselves, their family and culture in the same language. 

Literature such as poetry and singing should be done in one's own language. Also, paintings and drawings to connect one to their language should be done. The UN agency advices students to associate themselves with cultural activities like films, music, and art in celebration of different languages. UNESCO has extended an invitation to the Member States to commemorate the day and its significance through a multitude of educational and cultural initiatives, the linguistic diversity and multilingualism to nurture the essence of our language.

India supporting International Mother Tongue Day 2018

Our country stands as an epitome in recognizing the need to appreciate all languages and quality to treat all languages equal irrespective of the diversity.

India alone has 22 officially language, 1635 rationalized mother tongues, and 234 specific mother tongues. People’s Linguistic Survey of India projected approximately 780 languages in India with 600 of them are slowly dying. 

Indian constitution does not declare anyone language as a national language, which is commendable and out of the 780 languages in India, only 22 languages are constitutionally-recognised.