International Mother Language Day

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Lips talking (small) 65x79.jpg Today is International Mother Language Day. Celebrated for the first time in the Millennium Year, it is a programme promoted by UNESCO, the 2007 theme being multilingualism.
But why is it important?

The promotion of multilingualism lies at the heart of International Mother Language Day. Introduced in 2000 by UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 21 February is the day in the year when we are asked to recognise the uniqueness and significance of the 6,000 languages known to humankind.

In doing this however UNESCO has not set itself against the grain of 'progress', for the other emphasis on this date is acknowledgement of the value of shared language, of the ability to communicate in more than simply one's own mother tongue.

Powerful instruments
UNESCO offers a strong rationale for its promotion of mother languages and multilingualism.

These are, it says, 'the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.... [helping us to develop a] fuller awareness of linguistic traditions across the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.'

Linguapax
A corollary of this approach is the on-going (since 1986) UNESCO Lingupax project, which aims to promote a 'culture of peace' through the promotion of multilingual education and respect for linguistic diversity.

In that respect it seems sensible that people resident in a country learn to speak its main, official language/s, that they are also encouraged to respect and use the language of their immediate culture, and that schools offer those who wish it the opportunity to learn languages which may be culturally and geographically far removed from immediate experience.

Idealistic but important
Idealistic and architypically platitudinous these notions may be..... but who could deny the truths behind them?

The need to talk meaningfully and insightfully with one another has surely never been more pressing.



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