I hope you enjoyed Valentines Day if it is on your list of annual celebrations. Personally, I am much more excited about International Mother Language Day, celebrated on the 21st of February every year since 2000. Originating from the Bengali Language Movement protests of the early 1950s, International Mother Language Day was formalised in 1999 by UNESCO to celebrate linguistic and cultural diversity and promote multilingualism. The date 21 of February is significant as it was on that day in 1952 that Bengali students protesting for their linguistic rights were shot and killed by police in Dhaka. That event is acknowledged by many as the beginning of Bangledesh’s struggle for independence.
The right to be taught at school in your mother language is protected under article 14 of the UN’s Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, yet, unfortunately in many places across the globe, this right is ignored or suppressed resulting in the interruption of intergenerational transmission of languages and cultures. International Mother Language Day urges communities to celebrate and promote the use of their mother languages, hopefully creating increased awareness of issues surrounding linguistic rights and diversity.
In 2012 there is a photography competition being held to celebrate International Mother Language Day, which you can read about here. If you know of a International Mother Language event in your local area, we would much appreciate it if you share your event with us! Here are some links and videos about International Mother Language Day and past events from around the world.