February 21 is...
Languages 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 develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.Announced by UNESCO in 1999, International Mother Language Day celebrates cultural diversity and commemorates the “language martyr” students of 1952 Bangladesh. These students are honored by the encouragement of multiculturalism and the promotion of protective measures for endangered languages. It’s hard to imagine the challenges faced by students who have been ordered to learn in a foreign language, as without linguistic inclusion, there is no equal access to education. Current International Mother Language Day events include multicultural festivals which promote the hearing of all voices, and display social cohesion, cultural awareness, and tolerance. The unique nuances and subtleties of linguistic communication which connect individuals to culture and personal identity are valued and encouraged.
—from the United Nations International Mother Language Day microsite
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