21st February is a day relevant to everyone in the world. As declared by UNESCO, it is the International Mother Language Day (Matribhasha Diwas). In 1952, on this day, some students were killed in Bangladesh while they were protesting for the recognition of their mother language, Bangla. To honor those bravehearts and to remind ourselves of the importance of our mother tongue, this day is observed worldwide.
There are about 6500 different spoken languages in the whole world with decreasing number of speakers in most of them. We are so busy polishing our skills in the official languages of our respective countries that somewhere we are indeed neglecting our mother tongue. If we continue like this, it would not be too long before we see our mother language going extinct.
If we want to save our mother tongue then on this International Mother Language Day, let us all make these 5 promises to ourselves:
1. Respect our own mother tongue and not consider it any less than those of others.
Some languages are used by more people while others less. Some have an official status in a country while others are regional. However, none of them are superior or inferior to the other. After all, if we do not respect our own language, why would anyone else?
2. Stop taking pride in not knowing our mother tongue properly.
The most common reaction we give when someone uses a complicated/uncommon word from our mother language that we do not understand is “Sorry! My knowledge in this language is really bad, you know!” It is okay to not know it, but should we not try to improve our vocabulary instead of proudly throwing an excuse?
3. Start talking to our children in our mother tongue.
We have seen many ambitious parents preferring the school’s first language over their mother tongue while talking to their children even when they are at home. They believe this will improve their children’s academic performance and make them competent. However, this will also keep those children and the consequent generations of the family forever deprived of their culture and knowledge of their roots.
4. Ensure our children know how to read and write in our mother tongue despite them having a different second language in school.
While most of us had our mother tongue as our second language in school, there are some kids who don’t have that privilege. Many parents, mostly those with transferable jobs, prefer a more widely used language (E.g. Hindi in India) for their children. In this case, special care should be taken to make the children pay sufficient attention to their mother tongue since they are not automatically getting to learn the same in their schools. It is to be noted that learning multiple languages actually enhances performance of brain.
5. Explore our mother language.
Try to know more about its origin and venture into the lesser known part of its literature, culture and art. The more we will know about our language, the more we can understand, love and respect it and induce the same feeling to others.
So, are you ready to make these promises? Let us know in your comments.