Mother Tongue – The term ‘mother tongue’, although widely used, may refer to several different situations. Definitions often include the following elements: the language(s) that one has learned first; the language(s) one identifies with or is identified as a native speaker of by others; the language(s) one knows best and the language (s) one uses most. ‘Mother tongue’ may also be referred to as ‘primary’ or ‘first language’.

Wish for all the nation in this International Mother Language day that all can live their mother tongue all the time and for the next generation. I wish you all get aspiration from Bangladeshi who fought for their mother tongue in 1952.

Declaration of Unesco for Observation International Mother Language Day:

During its thirtieth session in November 1999, the General Conference of UNESCO decided to proclaim the annual observation of International Mother Language Day (IMLD). Around the world, many languages spoken by minority population groups are slowly disappearing. By observing this day, our Member States are helping to protect cultural and linguistic diversity, while promoting languages as a means of communication and cultural exchange among different peoples. Most of us take for granted our ability to speak the language of our childhood, our ancestors, and our people. Yet more than half of the world’s languages will no longer exist by the end of the century. Unless something changes, many languages will be lost without a trace. Because language is so strongly linked to culture, losing a language also implies the disappearance of a culture’s means of expression, making the world a poorer place to live in. But more than promoting the survival of minority languages, International Mother Language Day is also helping to raise awareness of their value as part of the tangible and intangible heritage of humankind.

The celebration of IMLD contributes to wider awareness of cultural and linguistic traditions in their different forms and manifestations. It also fosters a broad understanding of language and as an expression of a person’s individual and social identity. This applies to both majority and minority groups. As Mr. Kofi Annan expressed in a message for the first International Mother Language Day ceremony: « the lesson of our age is that languages are not mutually exclusive, but that human beings and humanity itself are enriched by communicating in more than one language.

Our language is shedding tears all over because its own children are deserting it, leaving it alone with its heavy burden.
From a Wolof poem by Useyno Gey Cosaan
(Senegal)

Each year on 21 February, UNESCO’s Member States celebrate International Mother Language Day through dance, poetry, song, theatre, storytelling and other forms of cultural expression. The whole spectrum of civil society – schools, universities, businesses, media, and cultural associations –all are encouraged to participate and lend their support in honor of mother tongue languages.

The day was observed eight years ago. Since then our principal goal has been mainly to create a dialogue and an understanding of cultures. This is not an exhaustive list of celebrations which were held in Member States. In future years, we encourage all countries celebrating IMLD to send us a brief description of their respective activities so they can be included in future reports.

We thank all countries for their kind participation in past celebrations of IMLD and hope that an account of these commemorations will provide inspiration for activities that can be organized in your own community, town or locality.


Raihan Kabir

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