About International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999. The UN General Assembly welcomed the proclamation of the day in its resolution of 2002.
History of International Mother Language Day
On this day in 1952 students of Dhaka University and some social activists staged a protest to maintain the existence of their mother tongue. The protest soon turned into a massacre. 16 people were killed in this incident.
In January 1998, Rafiqul Islam and Abdus Salam, Bengalis living in Vancouver, Canada wrote a letter to Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations. In the letter, they asked the UN to save the world's languages from extinction by declaring an International Mother Language Day.
The date February 21st was proposed by Rafiq to commemorate the 1952 killings in Dhaka during the Language Movement.
- Did you know? Eight out of ten of all the languages humans have ever spoken are now extinct..
The efforts of the Bangladeshi people to protect their language is honoured by UNESCO which established February 21st as International Mother Language Day in 2000. The intention of the day is to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
- Did you know? In the Aymara language spoken in the mountains of Western Bolivia, the past is described as in front of the speaker and the future behind.
According to the United Nations, approximately 6,000 languages spoken across the world are at risk of extinction with a language disappearing every fortnight. As well as promoting intercultural dialogue and respect, languages are proven to also play important roles in the sustainable development of communities and the preservation of cultural heritage.Find out more