International Mother Language Day

The United Nations' (UN) International Mother Language Day annuallycelebrates language diversity and variety worldwide on February 21. It also remembers events such as the killing of four students (Salam, Barkat, Rafiq and Jabbar ) on February21, 1952, because they campaigned to officially use their motherlanguage, Bengali, in Bangladesh.

On International Mother Language Day the UN's Educational,Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and UN agenciesparticipate in events that promote linguistic and cultural diversity.They also encourage people to maintain their knowledge of their motherlanguage while learning and using more than one language. Governmentsand non-governmental organizations may use the day to announce policiesto encourage language learning and support.

In Bangladesh, February 21 is the anniversary of a pivotal day in the country's history. People lay flowers at a Shaheed Minar(martyr's monument). They also: purchase glass bangles for themselvesor female relatives; eat a festive meal and organize parties; and awardprizes or host literary competitions. It is a time to celebrateBangladesh’s culture and the Bengali language.

The Linguapax Institute, in Barcelona, Spain, aims to preserve andpromote linguistic diversity globally. The institute presents theLinguapax Prize on International Mother Language Day each year. Theprize is for those who have made outstanding work in linguisticdiversity or multilingual education.

International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by UNESCO's General Conference in November 1999.