By Mackenzie Farkus
Feb. 21 marks the nineteenth annual International Mother Language Day (IMLD.) The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) presented 2018’s theme with the statement,“Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development.”
The United Nations General Assembly formally recognized International Mother Language Day (IMLD) in 1999, and designated 2008 as the International Year of Languages. UNESCO started International Mother Language Day in remembrance of the 1952 Bengali Language Movement in Bangladesh, in which people in former East Bengal advocated for the recognition of Bengali as a national language of Pakistan.
Researchers in 2007 expected half of the languages spoken today would be lost forever in 100 years. According to the Endangered Languages Project by the Alliance for Linguistic Diversity, languages in the United States such as Plains Indian Sign Language, Pennsylvania German, Hawaiian, Choctaw, and Louisiana Creole are currently listed as endangered. Indigenous languages and languages with limited speakers make up the majority of the endangered languages list.
“A language is far more than a means of communication; it is the very condition of our humanity. Our values, our beliefs and our identity are embedded within it,” UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said in a statement to commence this year’s International Mother Language Day. “It is through language that we transmit our experiences, our traditions and our knowledge. The diversity of languages reflects the incontestable wealth of our imaginations and ways of life.”
The Turkish Cultural Center of Boston will be throwing an event on Feb. 21 to celebrate International Mother Language Day (IMLD) from 6-7:30 p.m. The Bangladeshi Student Association of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) will also be celebrating International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on Feb. 21 from 6-8:30 p.m.