Mother Tongue Day

I haven't learned to talk to my cat yet but he does have a tongue

February 21st was International Mother Tongue Day. Founded by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) General Conference in November 1999, the day has been celebrated every year since Feb. 2000 promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.

Each year for this day has had its own theme. The theme for 2010 is “International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures.”

The Wikipedia page on International Mother Language Day describes the signifigance of this date:

“On 21 March 1948, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Governor general of Pakistan, declared that Urdu would be the only official language for both West and East Pakistan. The people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), whose main language is Bengali, started to protest against this. On 21 February 1952, (8 Falgun 1359 in the Bengali calendar), students in the present day capital city of Dhaka called for a provincial strike. The government invoked a limited curfew to prevent this and the protests were tamed down so as to not break the curfew. The Pakistani police fired on the students despite these peaceful protests and a number of students were killed.”

The day was observed in Bangladesh where it is also known as National Martyrs Day. Expatriates assembled in their chancellery in Bangladesh to honor those who sacrificed their lives for their mother tongue 58 years ago. The function included the Bangladesh national flag hoisted to half-mast, special prayers recited seeking blessings for the salvation of souls of the martyrs, and for seeking divine blessing for the continued peace and progress of Bangladesh.

8 responses

  1. I didn’t know that!

    Also, I’m guessing the cat has heard you say things, but isn’t making much of an effort to talk back.

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    1. I spend a good portion of the day attempting to learn cat language. So far no success. But I did enjoy the book Tailchaser’s Song by Tad Williams for the down low on cat culture. Does that count? ๐Ÿ™‚

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      1. Thanks for the link. I checked it out. Funny how a post about a human language day leads to cats. But it fits. Yes, they do think they are the dominant species, and I bow down before them, especially when I cleaning up hairballs and cleaning the cat box. Sadly, my cat is deaf, but the thing about cats is that they rarely listen anyway, except to the sound of a can opener. That does sound very human, in fact. My sweet old cat Malcolm, though, did answer me when I called. We had some great conversations in which he agreed with me about everything as long as I gave him a head rub! I miss that fur ball. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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  2. Forget Bengali and Urdu! Don’t these people know they should learn English so they can read our blogs! English is like the mother hen, bringing all words under her wing.

    The cat is too cute. I’m swooning!

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    1. It’s like when I travel in France. “Oeuf” means egg. “Chapeau” means hat. It’s like those French have a different word for everything!

      Sorry, channeling some Steve Martin there.

      I know what you mean. How rude that the rest of the world doesn’t speak our language. After all, aren’t we most important?

      To me that’s the beauty of setting aside a day for something like this. It’s important. Before one week ago I’d never heard of Mother Tongue Day. I was listening to the English language broadcast of German news on NPR when I first heard about this day. As someone who took four years of a second language (Francais) it sounded interesting so I wanted to learn more. I have to admit I wasn’t too surprised to find a power struggle behind the day.

      Also, about the cat. That’s a beautiful kitty but, I have to admit, not a house-mate of mine. I found that image when doing a search for “mother tongue.” I know a cat tongue has absolutely nothing to do with this topic but hey, close enough for me! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. I awarded you TWO blog awards – you have to come by to check them out. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    1. You’re supposed to be of “sound mind” before doing something like that, correct? Are you off all the mind-bending pain meds yet? My guess is, “nope.” ๐Ÿ™‚

      Seriously, though, thank you very, very much! I’m deeply touched. I’ll be by later this evening, if time permits, to pick them up and display them with PRIDE here on ye olde blogge. Imagine my humble abyss adorned with an actual award? All this time I thought things like that were reserved for people!

      ๐Ÿ™‚

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  4. Teri, I just wanted to let you know I have added the awards to my blog. The official awards page of the abyss is bare no longer thanks to you.

    Please rest assured that I will be doing my recipient duties in a future post. It’s not the sort of thing I want to rush so it might take a few days. Please know that it will happen soon.

    Have a great day!

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