International Mother Language Day

21 February International Mother Language Day

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  • February 21st
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The International Mother Language Day is annually celebrated on February 21st. Created by UNESCO, the day promotes multilingualism and awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity. Wish you a happy International Mother Language Day.

International Mother Language Day: What is it all about?

International Mother Language Day is celebrated every Feb 21 across the globe. The day encourages nations to give importance to their mother language along with different dialects to preserve their cultural identity.

This day is praised to motivate individuals to keep up knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one dialect to make the learning procedure easier and safeguarding their cultural identity.

On Mother Language Day, both open and private associations hold distinctive activities including courses, seminars, and cultural events to feature the significance of cultural and linguistic diversity.

INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY write on black board with hand hold the board

International Mother Language Day: When was it declared

UNESCO has been observing International Mother Language Day for about 20 years with the main objective of preserving linguistic diversity and promoting the dissemination of mother tongues and cultural traditions across the globe.

Inspired by the initiative of Bangladesh, the day was declared at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference and has been celebrated all through the world since 2000. In Bangladesh, 21st February marks the anniversary of the day when Bengalis fought for the recognition of Bangla language.

*Do you know? International Mother Language Day represents the day of 21st Feb 1952 when four students of Bengali students were killed in Bangladesh capital Dhaka because of Bengali and Urdu language controversy.

International Mother Language Day: What is the history of this day?

International Mother Language is a worldwide observance, which is held annually since 2000. The day promotes peace and multilingualism across the universe and to preserve all mother languages. Observed on 21st of February every year, the day recognizes the 1952 Bengali Language Movement in Bangladesh. Let’s read the history of International Mother Language Day here:

After the British left India, the Indian subcontinent was divided into a separate Muslim state (East Pakistan and West Pakistan) and a separate Hindu state (India). However, there was cultural and lingual friction between East Pakistan (today Bangladesh) and West Pakistan (today Pakistan).

These tensions grew in 1948 when Pakistan’s government declared Urdu as the national language of both East and West Pakistan. This decision by the government sparked a series of violent protests amongst the Bengali-speaking majority in East Pakistan. On February 21, 1952, students of the University of Dhaka along with some other activists organized a protest. Later that day, the police opened fire at the protestors, killing four students of the university. These young students’ martyrdom in fighting for the right to use their mother language Bengali instead of Urdu, is now remembered on International Mother Language Day.

International Mother Language Day (2)

On February 29, 1956, Bengali was finally recognized as the second official language of Pakistan. Later in 1971, East Pakistan became an independent country, known as Bangladesh with Bengali as its national language.

In November 1999, the General Conference of the UNESCO declared ‘International Mother Language Day’ and proposed the date as 21st February. The first International Mother Language Day was celebrated on February 21, 2000.

*Do you know – Why did 21st February become International mother language day? UNESCO proposed the date as February 21 to commemorate the 1952 killings of four students in Dhaka during the Language Movement.

Read Also: Chinese Language Day 20th April History, Date, Celebration

International Mother Language Day: Why do we celebrate it?

Languages, with their intricate ramifications for identity, social combination, communication, education, and advancement, are of vital significance for people and planet. However, because of globalization processes, languages are under danger or vanishing altogether. When languages disappear, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity.

According to a recent finding, around 43% of the estimated 6000 dialects spoken on the planet are endangered. Just a few hundred languages have been given someplace in today’s education systems, and less than a hundred are utilized in the digital world.

We celebrate International Mother Language Day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. Languages are the main elements of safeguarding and building up our heritage. Celebrating International Mother Language Day will serve not exclusively to empower linguistic diversity and multilingual education yet additionally to create more full consciousness of linguistic and cultural traditions all through the world.

*Do you know? Every two weeks a language disappears taking with it a whole cultural and scholarly legacy!

International Mother Language Day: How it is celebrated?

February 21 marks International Mother Language Day. On this day, the UNESCO and UN agencies organize different events across the globe that aim to promote linguistic and cultural diversity. UNESCO decides a theme for each International Mother Language Day, this year the theme is: “Indigenous languages matter for development, peacebuilding, and reconciliation”.

On this day, people of all nations are encouraged to maintain the knowledge of their mother tongue while learning and using multiple languages. Governments and non-legislative organization also utilize the day to declare policies to encourage language learning and support.

International Mother Language Day (3)In Bangladesh, the International Mother Language Day is celebrated with full enthusiasm. The day of February 21 in Bangladesh starts with placing flowers at the Martyrs’ Monument (where four Bengali students are buried who died fighting for the right to use their mother tongue). Also known as Shohid Dibosh (Martyr Day) in Bangladesh, the day marks a public holiday in the nation. The main highlights of the day include social gatherings, cultural show, festivals honoring Bengali language, and literary competitions.

Other than Bangladesh, there are International Mother Language Day celebrations across the globe, including countries like Pakistan, India, France, Canada, Australia, and Spain. Multiple award shows like Linguapax Prize, Ekushey Heritage Award, Ekushey Youth Award are also organized on this day – recognizing outstanding achievement in fields such as preservation of linguistic diversity, education, promotion of multilingualism, social work, and community service.

International Mother Language Day : Opening Event, Theme, Venue & Timings

International Mother Language Day  is to be celebrated on Thursday 21st February. The grand opening event will be organized at UNESCO Headquarters located in Paris, France. The opening event will include speeches by two UNESCO Delegates and a Representative of La Francophonie, a brief presentation followed by a debate entitled “Languages count”.

International Mother Language Day Theme: “Indigenous languages matter for development, peacebuilding, and reconciliation”

International Mother Language Day Venue: UNESCO Headquarters in Paris – 7, place de Fontenoy, Paris, 75007, France

International Mother Language Day Local Timings: 21 February

International Mother Language Day will be framed by the International Year of indigenous languages.

International Mother Tongue Day: Celebration ideas and School activities

  • School teachers can ask children to write something in their mother languages. Teachers can also encourage students to use their mother tongue to introduce themselves and have some friendly talks with them.
  • Another school activity includes letting students tell a story or sing a song in their mother tongues. Artwork with captions in mother languages is also a good school activity for students.
  • Organizing cultural activities such as films, plays, and music that celebrate a diverse range of languages is also a perfect International Mother Language Day celebration idea.

International Mother Language Day: Quotes, SMS, Messages

Looking for International Mother Tongue Day quotes, wishes, or messages? Let us have a look at some latest language-related sayings and quotations from around the world.

stylish colorful text for International Mother Language Day

  • If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart – Nelson Mandela
  • Language is wine upon the lips – Virginia Woolf
  • I am always sorry when any language is lost because languages are the pedigrees of nations – Samuel Johnson
  • Among my most prized possessions are words that I have never spoken – Orson Scott Card
  • The greatest missionary is the Bible in the mother tongue. It needs no furlough and is never considered a foreigner – William Cameron Townsend
  • Speak a new language so that the world will be a new world – Rumi
  • A special kind of beauty exists which is born in language, of language, and for language – Gaston Bachelard
  • Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow – Oliver Wendell Holmes

International Mother Language Day FAQs

Got a question about International Mother Language Day? Take a look at some frequently asked questions about Mother Tongue Day including info on what is it, why it is celebrated, public life, importance and much more.

What is the theme of the International Mother Language Day IMLD?

In , the theme of Mother Language Day is:  “Indigenous languages matter for development, peacebuilding and reconciliation”

How is international mother language day celebrated?

The day is celebrated with different events across the globe, all aimed at promoting linguistic and cultural diversity. In Bangladesh, the day is celebrated by placing flowers at the Martyrs’ Monument, followed by an entire day of cultural activities, literary competitions, and Bengali language events.

International mother language day greeting with doodle on green chalkboard

What is international mother language day?

International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is held on February 21 every year. Celebrated worldwide, the event is mainly focused on promoting awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

When was international mother language day declared?

International Mother Language Day was first declared by UNESCO on 17 November 1999.

How and why did 21st February become International mother language day?

In the 1952 Bengali Language Movement, four Bengali students sacrificed their lives just for the sake of their mother tongue. These students were killed by the police on February 21. Later in 1999, UNESCO declared International Mother Language Day to be celebrated on the 21st of February, in remembrance of those martyred students.

Is February 21 a holiday?

International Mother Language Day (February 21) is a public holiday in Bangladesh. It is a global observance but not a public holiday in all other countries of the world.

What is 21st February special?

The United Nations IMLD annually praises language diversity worldwide on February 21. The day also recalls events such as the killing of four students of the Dhaka University on February 21, 1952, because they advocated for the right to officially use Bengal as their mother language in East Pakistan (today Bangladesh).

International Mother Language Day – Quick Facts

International Mother Language Day, also known as International Mother Tongue Day is a worldwide annual observance held on February 21st. Created by UNESCO, the day promotes multilingualism and awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity.

mother language day

Date: February 21

 Theme: Indigenous languages matter for development, peacebuilding, and reconciliation

Importance: Preservation of every country’s mother language, protection of all languages

Also called: International Mother Tongue Day or Mother Language Day or Mother Tongue Day or Language Movement Day or Shahid Dibosh (Bengali word)

Observed: Worldwide

Event Type: United Nations Observance