February 21st: World Mother Language Day

There is a saying: “Even if you know many foreign languages, you will use your mother tongue if you cut your finger”.

The mother tongue is the language that is learned in early childhood without instruction. It is also known as the first or primary language. Anyone can master a language almost perfectly until their early teens - after puberty it becomes much more difficult, but not impossible as long as learning takes place with enthusiasm.

History - Historically, the day refers to February 21, 1952. A demonstration to make Urdu an official language took place in Dhaka. Urdu was spoken by only 3% of the population, while Bengali was spoken by 56% of the total population in West and East Pakistan. In 1971, East Bengal declared its independence from Pakistan and the national language in Bangladesh was henceforth Bengali.

Goals - There are around 6,000 languages ​​worldwide - war, displacement and stigmatization contribute to the fact that native languages ​​are in danger.

The goals of International Mother Language Day are:

• Promote languages ​​as a sign of cultural identity, since more than half of all languages ​​worldwide are threatened with extinction

• To promote foreign language teaching and multilingualism as a key to understanding and respect

• To draw attention to minority languages ​​with fewer than 10,000 speakers, as these languages ​​are often not passed on to the next generation

• Languages ​​with fewer than 100 speakers are not documented and should be preserved

UNESCO declares International Mother Language Day:

"Cultural and linguistic diversity are essential pillars of a sustainable society and promote mutual respect and tolerance. As part of its mandate for peace, UNESCO is committed to preserving different cultures and languages ​​worldwide."

Customs - In 2005 there was a focus on sign language and Braille to raise awareness of their importance.

On International Mother Language Day, various events and lectures on the topic of native language acquisition and second or foreign language acquisition take place.


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