International Mother Language Everything You Must Need to Know

21 February marks the International Mother Language Day (IMLD). The day was irst recognised as an international day for celebration in November 1999 by the United Nations Educational, Scientiic and Cultural Organization(UNESCO).

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Since February 2000, International Mother Language Day is being observed globally to recognize and promote cultural and linguistic diversity.

In 2007, the UN General Assembly called upon its member states “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world.”

This resolution was followed by a proclamation designating the year 2008 as the ‘International Year of Languages,’ aim at promoting unity in diversity. Then international understanding through multilingualism and multiculturalism.

UNESCO celebrates the day – 21 February – in commemoration of the language martyrs of the ‘Bangla language movement.’

Source – UN, “International Mother Language Day”, available online: , accessed on 18th February, 2015.

International Mother Language Day History

In 1952, students of Dhaka University and other institutions in Dhaka gathered. For a protest rally against the then Pakistani Prime Minister Khwaza Nazimuddin’s determination to establish Urdu as the state’s oficial language.

Earlier on 20 February, the government imposed an order under Section 144. This be of the Criminal Procedure Code to prohibit and restrict any demonstration.

Students defying the ban, protested against the declaration of Urdu as the only official language.

Police and the paramilitary forces shot teargas shells and later opened ire on the gathering. Muhammad Salahuddin, Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barakat, Raiquddin Ahmad and Abdus Salam and a few others were shot dead.

21 February every year, since then has been observed. As the ‘omor ekushey’ (immortal twenty-irst) in Bangladesh and elsewhere among the Bangla speaking community.

The ‘Bangla language movement’ began taking shape in 1947. Immediately before the independence of greater Pakistan (including Bangladesh as East Pakistan) from British India.

However, the Vice Chancellor of Aligarh Muslim University Dr. Ziauddin Ahmed quoted. That Urdu should be the oficial language of the Muslim state to be formed.

In response to this, prominent Bengali linguist Dr. Muhammad Shahidullah wrote an article in the Daily Azad on July 29, 1947.

He refuted Ziauddin Ahmed’s claim to impose Urdu as the lingua franca. More arguing that Bengali being the mother tongue of 55% of population of Pakistan deserves to be the State language of the new nation.

Once Bengali is adopted as the State language. So the government may then consider whether or not Urdu should also be afforded the status of one of the State languages of Pakistan.

Source – M. Waheeduzzaman Manik, “Dhirendranath Datta and the Making of the Bengali
Language Movement
”, available online accessed on 17th March, 2015.

The Mother language Research shows

More than ifty-percent of the seven thousand languages spoken. More around the globe are likely to become extinct within a few generations.

Besides, ninety-six percent of the languages are spoken by only four percent of the population. If Bangla persists in incorporating Banglish over time. However, it would slowly die out within a few decades.

Therefore, the government of Bangladesh should emphatically emphasize language education. The areas of in the school curricula, including that of the English medium schools.

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