|International Mother Language Day celebrations. Source: AP|
Last week, on the International Mother Language Day, I happened to be in Bangkok and was able to participate in a celebration that the Bangladesh Embassy together with UNESCO had organised. There was good representation from India and certainly not the only place where the topic of language was discussed.
The report on the celebration at the Central University of Orissa captures well the link with multilingual education: “Central University of Odisha celebrates Matribhasha Divas: Mother Tongue must go hand in hand in multilingual education”. No surprise as one of the main speakers was Prof Mohanty. The Indian Express published an article on Speaking in my own tongue from M Venkaiah Naidu, Vice President of India. He writes: “Let us strengthen our linguistic and cultural roots by making our children learn the mother language first and gradually introduce them to other languages.” India Today published an article on Your mother tongue could be dying as we speak and concludes with “What we can do, however, is try and make sure our kids don't grow up with the misconception that their mother tongue is boring. For it is not.” The Financial Express published a How to celebrate and all you need to know which also gives a explanation of this years theme: ”Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development”. New18 chooses a more provocative heading for their article: “Dear English-Obsessed Parents, Don't Steal Your Children's Right To Learn Their Mother Tongue” and features a testimony from a German based professional who relocate to West Bengal stating: "If my daughter would have been raised in Germany, then she might have never known her mother tongue or understood how rich Bengali Literature is and it would not have been her fault," but the article admits that this is more an exception than a rule.
In the mean time the Central Institute of India Languages hosted a three day international conference on ‘Endangered and Lesser Known Languages’. Peter Austin from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, U.K., made a statement that would be a good closure of this synthesis of writings: “Endangered languages cannot be preserved just through seminars and conferences. Instead, efforts should be made to politically, socially and economically ensure that these languages are brought to the mainstream of communication”. Only with that we can also in the future celebrate the International Mother Language Day!