International Mother Language Day – February 21

by  Ruslana Westerlund

 

Did you know that nearly 40% of the world’s population lack access to education in their own language according to this report from UNESCO? Did you know that February 21st is the International Mother Language Day?  If you follow Reclaiming the Language for Social Justice Facebook page, then you should know.  I have been posting about it today all day.  In fact, we started our breakfast as a family talking about it and my son couldn’t believe one could die defending one’s own language.
The significance of this day is marked by an event on February 21, 1952 when several University of Dhaka students were demonstrating for recognition of Bangla, their language to be one of the state languages (along with Urdu).  They were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.  To read more about the significance of this event from the Bengali perspective here.
Since then, a monument has been erected in Dhaka, called Shahid Minar (Shaheed means martyr, and Minar means monument) to commemorate the event of 1952.  People pay tribute to the language martyrs, the students who were killed protesting for their language rights.
Shaheed Minar, monument established to commemorate Bangla language martyrs who were killed on February 21, 1952 for their language rights
Shaheed Minar, monument established to commemorate Bangla language martyrs who were killed on February 21, 1952 for their language rights
To celebrate this day, let’s do what’s within our power to celebrate all the languages of the world and especially those that have been marginalized.  We can do that in our communities, our schools, our work places, and our homes!

Below is how to say Happy International Mother Language Day in various languages.  I would like to give credit to the Facebook page International Mother Language Day Celebration where people have posted how to say Happy International Mother Language Day in their languages.

Bітаємо з міжнародним святом рідної мови! (Ukrainian)

Gezuar Diten Nderkombetare te Gjuhes se Nenes! (Albanian)

Szczęśliwego Międzynarodowego Dnia Języka Ojczystego! (Polish)

(Arabic) يوم اللغة الام العالمي سعيد

Baynal Aqwami yaum e maadri zabaan mubarak Ho (Urdu)

Antar-rashtriya bhasha divas ki badhaee ho (Hindi)

世界母語日(Cantonese & Traditional Chinese)

Selamat Hari Bahasa Ibu Internasional (Indonesian)

¡Feliz día internacional de la lengua materna! (Spanish)

Bonne journée internationale de la langue maternelle (French)

Sveikinu su tarptautine gimtosios kalbos diena! (Lithuanian)

Feliz dia internacional da língua materna! (Brazilian Portuguese)

Feliz dia internacional da língua mãe (Portuguese)

모국어의 날을 행복하게 보내세요 ( Korean)

শুভ আন্তর্জাতিক মাতৃভাষা দিবস (Bengali)

Einen glücklichen Internationalen Tag der Muttersprache (German)

Buona giornata internazionale della lingua materna (Italian)

Gelukkige internationale dag van de moedertaal (Dutch)

Hauskaa kansainvälistä äidinkielenpäivää! (Finnish)

Glad inernationell modersmålsdag! (Swedish)

 Can you add to this list?  Let’s celebrate all the languages, the languages we speak and the languages our ancestors spoke, even if we don’t speak them any more for various reasons.   If you were able to speak the languages of your grandparents and ancestors, what languages would those be?

About the author:

Dr. Ruslana Westerlund is an equity-driven individual with about 20 years of ESL teaching at K-12, undergraduate and graduate levels.    She blogs to learn.  Writing gives her an opportunity to think about something deeply, read about topics she wants to explore more, and as a result, she shares her thinking with others hoping it will contribute to a more just and fair world for culturally and linguistically diverse learners.    She posts frequently on Reclaiming the Language for Social Justice Facebook page focusing on linguistic rights and education issues of culturally and linguistically diverse learners worldwide.

*The views expressed in her blogs do not represent her employer.
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