International Mother Language Day

21 February International Mother Language Day

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  • February 21st
  • #MotherLanguageDay

Language is a fundamental aspect of human identity, culture, and communication. It is the medium through which we express our thoughts, emotions, and ideas, and it shapes the way we see and interact with the world around us. However, with globalisation and the increasing dominance of a few major languages, many indigenous and minority languages are at risk of disappearing. To address this issue and promote linguistic diversity, the United Nations has designated February 21 as International Mother Language Day.

What is International Mother Language Day?

International Mother Language Day is an annual observance that celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity and promotes multilingualism. It was first observed on February 21, 2000, to commemorate the language movement in Bangladesh in 1952, where students and activists protested against the imposition of Urdu as the only official language of the country. The movement resulted in the recognition of Bengali as one of the official languages of Bangladesh and inspired similar movements in other parts of the world.

Why is International Mother Language Day important?

International Mother Language Day is important for several reasons:

  • It celebrates linguistic and cultural diversity and promotes tolerance and respect for different languages and cultures.
  • It raises awareness of the importance of preserving endangered languages and supports efforts to revitalize and promote them.
  • It highlights the role of language in achieving sustainable development, social inclusion, and peace building.
  • It recognises the right of individuals to use their mother tongue and to have access to education and information in their own language.

How is International Mother Language Day celebrated?

International Mother Language Day is celebrated in many ways around the world. Some common activities include:

  • Language and cultural festivals that showcase different languages, music, food, and traditions.
  • Workshops, seminars, and conferences that discuss issues related to language policy, language rights, and language education.
  • Competitions and contests that promote multilingualism and language learning.
  • Publications and media campaigns that raise awareness of the importance of preserving endangered languages and promote multilingualism.

Celebrating Other Language Days

While International Mother Language Day emphasizes the importance of linguistic diversity and the preservation of one’s mother tongue, it’s also noteworthy to mention the celebration of individual languages worldwide. For instance, German, a language with its rich history and cultural significance, is celebrated with its own dedicated day. Learn more about how German Language Day is commemorated and the importance of such observances in fostering global linguistic appreciation.

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.

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.

Quick facts
When is it?Every 
What’s the official website?Official Site
ThemeIndigenous languages matter for development, peacebuilding, and reconciliation
What are the hashtags?

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


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