International Mother Language Day 2017
Despite the fact that we rarely get to think about it, there is profound significance to what we refer to as mother language. It is a language that should enable us – and in most cases it indeed does – to express the widest possible range of our thoughts and ideas, the most delicate nuances of our emotions and all in all should provide us with tools for conveying universes that we are.
Given such importance, in 1999 UNESCO declared 21 February International Mother Language Day. Wishing to regularly remind the international public of each individual’s duty to preserve their mother tongue and in this way contribute to the preservation of linguistic diversity at the global level, UNESCO introduced the observation of this day as a way of preventing extinction that many world languages are currently facing. The latest statistics provided by UNICEF indicate that as many as half of today’s 7,000 living languages are threatened with the possibility of dying out, and with that the world with the sad prospect of losing worlds (inside worlds) that make it.
The relevance of devoting efforts to the preservation of the world’s linguistic variety was further reinforced after the formal institution of International Mother Language Day in 2000, by the 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity, whose Article 5 firmly insists on all persons’ “right to express themselves and to create and disseminate their work in the language of their choice, and particularly in their mother tongue”.
This year’s theme, Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education, draws public attention to linguistic diversity as a vital prerequisite for building our future right and bright. Being so central to human identity and meaningful existence, its preservation is certainly worth our most dedicated efforts.