Today, 21th February, is World Mother Language Day, a special occasion to reflect on the importance of mother tongues in the social and cultural fabric of our planet. This day was established by UNESCO in 1999 and has been celebrated every year since 2000 on 21 February. The date was not chosen at random, but to recall a significant event that took place on 21 February 1952 in Dhaka, then part of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh).

The history behind World Thieves Language Day

On that tragic day, Bengali students at the University of Dhaka rose up in protest against the recognition of Bengali as an official language. The central government had imposed Urdu as the language of education and administration, ignoring the Bengalis’ demands to use their mother tongue. The students’ peaceful protest was brutally suppressed, and many young people lost their lives. However, their sacrifice led to victory: Bengali was recognised as the official language of East Pakistan.

The importance of mother tongues

The mother tongue is more than just a means of communication. It is a vehicle for the culture, history and identity of a people. That is why World Mother Language Day is so important:

  • Cultural preservation: Mother tongues carry with them traditions, stories, myths and legends. Preserving and promoting these languages means protecting the cultural heritage of entire communities.
  • Social cohesion: When people can express themselves in their mother tongue, a sense of belonging and mutual understanding is created. Mother tongues foster social cohesion.
  • Intercultural integration: The multilingualism promoted by World Mother Language Day helps us overcome cultural barriers and better understand different perspectives of the world.

Language translations and mother tongue

Language translations play a key role in preserving and disseminating mother tongues. Through carefully executed translations, we can make texts, literary works, historical documents and cultural content accessible to a wider audience. Here are some key considerations:

  • Literary translation: Literary translators work to bring literary works from one language into another. This process requires cultural sensitivity and a deep understanding of linguistic nuances.
  • Legal translation: In legal contexts, translations are essential to ensure that rights and obligations are clear and understandable to all, regardless of the mother tongue.
  • Technical translation: Sectors such as engineering, medicine and IT require precise translations for manuals, instructions and technical specifications.
  • Localisation: Localisation adapts content to a specific culture or region, taking into account linguistic and cultural differences.

Promoting multilingualism

On World Mother Language Day, we can do our part to promote multilingualism:

  • Learn new languages: We spend time learning a language other than our own. This enriches our perspective and connects us with other cultures.
  • Valuing mother tongues: We respect and value the languages spoken around us. Each language contributes to the richness of our linguistic world.
  • Support language translations: Translations are bridges between different cultures. We support translators and translation agencies to ensure that content is accessible to all.
  • Preserving endangered languages: Many languages are at risk of extinction. We help preserve them through documentation and promotion initiatives. Sharing your voice

Your voice, in your mother tongue, is precious. Tell stories, write poetry, share your experience. Every word counts. Happy World Mother Language Day! 🌍🗣️


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