International Mother Language Day 2018
At the partition of India in 1947, the Bengal province was divided according to the predominant religions of the inhabitants. The western part became part of India and the eastern part became a province of Pakistan known as East Bengal and later East Pakistan. This, of course, eventually led to tension between the separated parts. This tension came to its peak in 1948 when Urdu was declared as the only official national language of East Pakistan.
Following this announcement the Bengali-speaking inhabitants started protests against this new law and its government. In fact these people made up the majority of all people living there which might make their outrage even more relatable.
The government outlawed these protests but this did not stop the people to speak up their minds. On February 21, 1952, students at the University of Dhaka and other activists organized another protest that resulted in the local police opening fire which caused the unfortunate death of four of the demonstrating students.
The unrest continued as Bengali speakers campaigned for the right to use their mother language. Bengali became an official language in Pakistan on February 29, 1956. Following the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971, Bangladesh became an independent country with Bengali as its official language. Still people had to die for their right to speak their very own language and this is the reason why we want to commemorate these people on the International Mother Language Day.
These students are honoured by the encouragement of multiculturalism and the promotion of protective measures for endangered languages. It’s hard to imagine the challenges faced by students who have been ordered to learn in a foreign language, as without linguistic inclusion, there is no equal access to education.
An International Mother Language Day monument was erected at Ashfield Park in Sydney, Australia, on February 19, 2006 after several other memorials have been destroyed at the actual place where the events have took place. There are the words "we will remember the martyrs of 21st February" in English and Bengali and words in five alphabets to represent mother languages on five continents where people live displayed on the monument.
In order to celebrate and also commemorate this Day accordingly many institutions such as the UN and UNESCO are participating in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity. These activities may include international group discussions, poetry gatherings, multicultural festivals with hearings in various languages and much more. Activists also use this day to encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their mother language while learning and using more than one language. Governments and non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policies to encourage language learning and support.
The unique nuances and subtleties of linguistic communication which connect individuals to culture and personal identity are valued and encouraged.
Languages are the most powerful way to preserve and develop culture and to promote it all across the world. Because of this unfortunate incident, International Mother Language Day is celebrated in all over the world, while it is a public holiday in Bangladesh.
Here is a list of the title of the day in various languages in honour of the International Mother Language Day 2018:
- International Mother Language Day (English)
- Día Internacional de la Lengua Materna (Spanish)
- יום שפת האם הבינלאומי (Hebrew)
- اليوم العالمي للغة الأم (Arabic)
- 국제 모국어의 날 (Korean)
- Internationaler Tag der Muttersprache (German)
written by Karolin VR