[MLE] International Mother Language Day

Dear MLE friends,
Today is the International Mother Language Day! See the UNESCO announcement below.

Karsten van Riezen
Education Consultant, SIL Int.
SIL, South Asia Group.

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International Mother Language Day
21 Feb 2009

Proclaimed by UNESCO in November 1999, and observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Today, about half of the 6,000 or so languages spoken in the world are under threat. Over the past three centuries, languages have died out and disappeared at a dramatic and steadily increasing pace, especially in the Americas and Australia. At least 3,000 tongues are endangered, seriously endangered or dying in many parts of the world. According to recent estimates, very few people speak most of the 6,000 known languages around the world. Half of today's languages have fewer than 10,000 speakers and a quarter have fewer than 1,000.
"Languages are at the heart of humanity's intangible heritage. They are born, they evolve and, sometimes, they are doomed to die. Yet, it behoves us to do all in our power to safeguard them so as to preserve the world's invaluable cultural diversity. To this end and to rise to the challenge of multilingualism, UNESCO supports language policies that promote mother tongues."

Koichiro Matsuura, UNESCO's Director-General
Languages are at the very heart of UNESCO's objectives. They are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.
All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to development fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.