International Mother Language Day 2023: Know Its History

International Mother Language Day is a special day celebrated every year on February 21st all over the world. It is an opportunity to learn about different languages and cultures and to encourage people to speak and learn more than one language. This day was started by UNESCO in 1999 and later recognized by the United Nations. The day is important because it helps to protect all languages and celebrate the unique ways that people communicate. The idea for this day came from Bangladesh, where they fought for the recognition of the Bengali language. It is also celebrated in West Bengal, India.

History of International Mother Language Day

Here’s the history of International Mother Language Day summarized in points:

1. 1999 Declaration: The United Nations declared 21 February as International Mother Language Day in 1999.

2. Honoring Bangladesh: This day was established to honor the people of Bangladesh who protested against the government’s decision to make Urdu the national language of Pakistan.

3. Demand for Recognition: The protesters advocated for the recognition of Bengali as well, but the government refused and even banned public gatherings.

4. Violent Protest: On 21 February 1952, the protest turned violent, resulting in the deaths of several people, making it a tragic day in Bangladesh’s history.

5. Monument in Memory: In remembrance of the martyrs, a monument was built, and to this day, people visit it to show their respect and gratitude.

6. Advocacy in Canada: Two Bengali individuals living in Canada approached Kofi Annan with the idea to protect endangered languages and commemorate the 1952 events.

7. Government Request: The idea was presented to the Bangladeshi government, which then requested UNESCO to make it an official holiday.

8. Official Declaration: On 17 November 1999, it was officially agreed upon, and since then, people worldwide celebrate it on 21 February.

9. UNESCO’s Role: UNESCO selects a yearly theme for International Mother Language Day and hosts events in Paris. In 2008, they initiated the International Year of Languages on this day.

10. Global Celebration: Numerous countries, including Chile, Russia, the Philippines, Egypt, and Canada, join in celebrating this special day, emphasizing the importance of linguistic diversity and preserving mother languages.

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