International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day

By Nepali Patro (Sudan Bhattarai Upadhyaya)
January 18, 2022

International Mother Language Day. In Bangladesh, on February 21, 1952, students who demanded to be allowed to speak their mother tongue, Bengali, were killed. International (World) Mother Language (Tongue) Day is celebrated on the same day with that day’s memory. This day, which is celebrated every year on February 21, was recognized as a special day by UNESCO on November 17, 1999. It is being celebrated all over the world since 2000 when the United Nations declared this day as Mother Language Day. 

Bangladesh, formerly known as East Pakistan, gives a national holiday on this day. Bangladesh was born as East Pakistan when India was divided into two countries as India and Pakistan in 1949 during the India-Pakistan partition. Similarly, the year 2008 was celebrated as the International Language Year also.

According to the Nepal Census of 2068 BS, there are 123 languages in existence all over Nepal. According to the statistics, Maithili is the second most spoken language in Nepal after Nepali and Sanskrit is the least spoken language. According to that census, there are six types of languages in Nepal including Bharopeli, Agneya, Sino-Tibetan, Dravidian, Single (Ekal) Kusunda, and Sign Language. There are more than 7,000 languages in the world. The celebration of International Mother Language Day was started with the objective of raising awareness about language, culture, and multilingualism.

Mother tongues are slowly and gradually disappearing nowadays in lots of countries over the world. One of the main reasons for the disappearance of mother tongues is the need to learn another foreign language for work/professional purposes. The United Nations has designated the period from 2022 to 2032 as the “International Decade of Indigenous Languages”. Everyone must love their mother tongue. In Bangladesh, also this day was born out of love for one’s mother tongue in the year 1952.

If mother tongue/language education is effectively promoted, it certainly can be revived there is no doubt at all. Language is the element that identifies people as human beings. That is why it can be said that language is the identity of the human race. Language identifies geography as well as countries and their people. In Nepal as well as other countries, the languages of the indigenous peoples, which have more spoken and oral traditions than written ones, are on the verge of extinction. Mother tongue and literature help to preserve the original art, culture, and traditions of all castes and people in general. Because the development of language means also the development of a country as a whole.  

In the preamble of the current Constitution of Nepal, Nepal has been accepted as a multilingual country. The right to equality has been ensured by saying that there shall be no discrimination against anybody on the basis of any language they may use. Similarly, the constitution also guarantees the right to education in one’s mother tongue.

There are various debates going on for some years in the country about multilingual education. In the general sense, a multilingual education system is the introduction of the mother tongue in schools and the gradual use of other languages as required. But its definition still does not seem to be universal in Nepals’ context. It is very important to give equal importance to education in the mother tongue while implementing the multilingual education system as well. Studies have also shown that children’s learning process is affected when there is less adjustment between the subjects included in the curriculum and their day-to-day experiences with their daily spoken language. For this same reason, the mother tongue needs to be taught right from the beginning.

Linguistic inclusion should also be emphasized strongly for the social/socio development of a multilingual country like Nepal. On behalf of Nepali Patro, we wish our readers and every Nepalese the best wishes on the occasion of International Mother Language Day. Long Live Our Mother Tounge!! May all our mother tongues be immortal, may they live forever. Long live Nepal and its different languages.

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