International Mother Language DaySince February 21st, 2000, the world has celebrated International Mother Language Day as declared by UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. According to UNESCO, the “celebration is designed to promote linguistic diversity and multilingual education, to highlight greater awareness of the importance of mother tongue education.” This year’s slogan is Books for mother tongue education, emphasizing the need for production of books in all local languages.

Although IMLD was officially declared by UNESCO starting in 2000, it originated as the international recognition of Language Movement Day, which began in Bangladesh (formerly Pakistan). On Feburary 21, 1952, students speaking Bengali began demonstrations that eventually led to a Bengali nationalist movement leading to Independence (in 1971). See your local library for a more accurate history of Bangladesh.

Why should you care about International Mother Language Day? I can’t say it better than the UN’s Event Page, so I’ll quote it here:

Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Borrow. Read. Return. Repeat.