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Kimberly Hall | February 11, 2020

February 21 is observed by the world as International Mother Language Day. Mother language, also known as first language or native tongue, is the language a person learns to speak, usually from birth, and knows the communicative and linguistic aspects of it by heart. It may also be referred to as mother tongue, native language, home language or dominant language.

International Mother Language Day has been observed on February 21 since 2000. It was declared at the 1999 UNESCO General Conference. Not only does this day promote peace and multilingualism around the world, but this date also recognizes the day that students died in the 1952 Bengali Language Movement in Bangladesh. In Bangladesh, International Mother Language day is celebrated by placing flowers at the Martyr’s Monument, followed by a day of cultural activities, literary competitions and Bengali language events. UNESCO hosts numerous events that promote not only linguistic diversity but cultural diversity as well.

As of 2019, there are around 6,000-7,000 living languages in the world. With the number constantly in flux it is difficult to accurately measure the number of languages spoken around the world. 43 percent of the estimated languages spoken in the world are endangered, only a few hundred are formally taught and used and fewer than 100 are used in the world, according to UNESCO.

For more information about International Mother Language Day, you can visit the following links: