Saturday, February 21, 2015

Today is International Mother Language Day – 21st February 2015.

International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21st February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was first announced by UNESCO on 17th November 1999. Its observance was also formally recognized by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages.
International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since 2000 February to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students from different educational institutes such as Dhaka University, Jagannath University, Dhaka Medical College were demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bengali, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, when many were shot and killed by police in Dhaka - the present capital of Bangladesh.
It is estimated that there are 6,500 spoken languages in the world. Of these 13 are the most populous languages like Mandarin, English and Hindi. Around 2,000 of the world languages have less than 1,000 speakers and many are facing a similar fate.
Coming to my mother tongue Telugu, there are many Telugu people who cannot write or read Telugu. There are some who cannot even speak Telugu. However strong the reasons might be for this situation, it does not sound good.
English is a very important and a must language in today’s world and naturally our society has taken to it very seriously and our education system is mostly in English. Mastery in English will certainly help in ones career and in our society which speaks different languages and English serves as a common language to connect them. But to preserve our roots, culture and the language of our parents we must learn and respect our mother tongue. While amidst our family and relatives where there is no need to speak in English we must speak in our mother tongue. Some parents consider it stylish and posh to speak in English even within the family and among relatives. They even force their babies to utter their first words in English and continue to speak only in English, deliberately avoiding mother tongue. I think this is not necessary, mother tongue spoken mostly in the family, helps children in learning other languages faster and better. Like us, our children will also learn English much more effectively if they continue to develop their mother tongue at the same time, so they can become bilingual and as they grow multilingual…like us.

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