Please note that all PDF documents are marked as such and will open in a new browser window.
BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
International Mother Language Day, 21 February, also marks official conclusion of International Year of Languages
20 February 2009 / 04:43

[Dateline: New York | Author: iSeek]

The tenth annual International Mother Language Day  commemoration on 21 February 2009 provides an opportunity to recall the objective of this celebration to Member States: the recognition of linguistic diversity and the importance of multilingual education. This year's Day also marks the conclusion of the International Year of Languages , which was launched on 21 February 2008 with the simple message - "languages matter!"


International Mother Language Day, proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999, has been observed yearly since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.  It originated as the international recognition of Language Movement Day, which has been commemorated in Bangladesh since 1952.


And today in Bangladesh, the United Nations Information Centre  informs the local population of significant developments related to the activities of the UN system as well as news relevant to the Asia-Pacific region in a monthly newsletter published in Bangla. It also publishes in Bangla works on a range of issues, from climate change to UN human rights instruments and conventions.


As USG for Communications and Public Information and Coordinator for Multilingualism, Mr. Kiyo Akasaka said in his message for International Mother Language Day, "Languages, which ones you understand or speak, read or write, whether on the Internet or in your society, can make the difference between knowing and not knowing, and between being able to participate and being excluded. The Department of Public Information engages and communicates with the world through traditional and new media in the six official languages of the United Nations. But it also goes far beyond these six languages, to reach millions of peoples locally and across linguistic regions."


On the eve of International Mother Language Day, UNESCO launched an interactive electronic version of its atlas cataloguing some 2,500 endangered languages worldwide.  According to the Atlas, nearly 200 languages have fewer than 10 speakers and 178 others have between 10 and 50 speakers. [ Full story on UN News Centre 


USG Akasaka said that International Mother Language Day "marks another opportunity to encourage and support linguistic diversity and multilingualism.  It also inspires us to continue to work with governments, international organizations, civil society, educational institutions, and the private sector, among others, to ensure that this respect for diversity is translated into the language of peace and an understanding of universal values we all share to realise a better world."


Simulation of official meeting in French for diplomats and staff


Although the International Year of Languages will have officially ended, activities to promote multilingualism in the Secretariat will continue. The Learning Section's French Language Programme at Headquarters highlights the importance of multilingual education and is holding an encore three-day workshop in French from Monday to Wednesday, 23 - 25 February to simulate an official meeting.


Every year, delegates of permanent missions to the UN hold more than 1,000 internal meetings to negotiate and reach common positions on international issues to lend more impact to their collective weight in the world. These meetings and consultations are held prior to addressing up to six main committees of the General Assembly.


The workshop is scheduled to take place in Room DC2-200, over three afternoons - 2:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m., and is specifically tailored for diplomats and staff members who attend such meetings and consultations held in French. It is open only to participants with an advanced level of French.


All diplomats and staff members interested to participate are invited to contact M. Emmanuel Soyer, French Language Coordinator at  Seats are still available.