Site icon Signpost News

Preserving local languages on International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day

MEELAL volunteers promoting Meetei Mayek script (File Photo)

On the occasion of International Mother Language Day, we must resolve to preserve the endangered and vulnerable local languages. Let us understand the significance of endangered languages such as Meeteilon and other vulnerable languages like Aimol, Koireng, Purum, Tarao, and Lamkang whose speakers are less than 10 thousand.

This can be done through various means, such as creating language preservation programs, supporting language learning initiatives, and incorporating endangered languages into mainstream education.

Meeteilon is considered an endangered language. According to UNESCO, Meeteilon is one of the 47 languages in India that is endangered and has a vulnerable status. One of the main reasons for this is the increasing use of English as a medium of education and communication.

It is crucial to recognize the importance of linguistic diversity and take steps to preserve and promote endangered languages like Meeteilon. These languages not only serve as a means of communication but also carry with them the cultural and historical identity of their speakers.

Losing a language means losing a part of our collective heritage and identity. Therefore, it is vital to support efforts to preserve and promote endangered languages like Meeteilon, so that they can continue to enrich our world with their unique perspectives and insights.

MEELAL volunteers painting the hoardings with Meetei Mayek script (Photo credit- Meetei Phurup).

The efforts of Meetei Erol Eyek Loinasillon Apunba Lup (MEELAL) to preserve and promote the use of Meetei Mayek, the script used for writing Meeteilon, are commendable. Their work has helped raise awareness about the importance of the script and has inspired others to take up the cause of language preservation. Supporting organizations like MEELAL in their efforts to preserve endangered languages and promote linguistic diversity is crucial, as these languages are an integral part of our cultural heritage and identity.

International Mother Language Day is an annual celebration observed on February 21st to acknowledge the importance of language diversity and its role in cultural identity. UNESCO declared this day in 1999 in honor of the Language Movement in Bangladesh, which aimed to establish Bengali as an official language. This movement also led to the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

The history of International Mother Language Day dates back to the 1952 Language Movement in Bangladesh, where the Pakistani government enforced Urdu as the only official language of East Pakistan, now Bangladesh. This decision sparked protests and demonstrations, which led to the death of several peaceful rally attendees. The Bengali language was eventually recognized as an official language, leading to the independence of Bangladesh. In 1999, UNESCO declared February 21st as International Mother Language Day in honor of this historic event.

The significance of International Mother Language Day lies in its promotion of cultural diversity, language preservation, and unity. The day serves as a reminder that language is not just a means of communication but also a crucial aspect of cultural identity. It recognizes the need to preserve endangered languages, which are disappearing at an alarming rate. According to UNESCO, a language dies every two weeks, taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.

International Mother Language Day is celebrated worldwide with a variety of events and activities. In Bangladesh, the day is a national holiday, and people gather at the Shaheed Minar, a monument to the Language Movement martyrs, to pay their respects and lay flowers. In other parts of the world, language festivals, poetry readings, and language classes are held to promote multilingualism and cultural exchange.

Learning multiple languages has many benefits, both personal and professional. Studies have shown that bilingualism can improve cognitive function, memory, and decision-making skills. It can also delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

In today’s globalized world, being fluent in multiple languages can also enhance career prospects and open up new opportunities for international travel and cultural exchange. It can also improve communication with people from different backgrounds and facilitate cross-cultural understanding.

Preserving endangered languages is crucial for maintaining cultural diversity and preventing the loss of valuable knowledge and traditions. UNESCO has identified more than 2,500 languages that are in danger of disappearing, and efforts are being made worldwide to document and revitalize these languages. One approach is language revitalization, which involves teaching the language to new generations and creating materials such as dictionaries, textbooks, and audio recordings. Another approach is language documentation, which involves collecting data and recording the language before it disappears.

Moreover, individuals can play a crucial role in preserving endangered languages by using and promoting their mother tongue in their daily lives. This can include speaking the language with family and friends, using it in cultural events, and creating content such as literature, music, and films in the endangered language.

International Mother Language Day is a vital occasion that promotes linguistic diversity and cultural exchange while highlighting the need to protect and preserve endangered languages. By celebrating our mother tongues and promoting language preservation initiatives, we can create a more inclusive and tolerant world that values and respects all languages and cultures.

So let us come together and celebrate the beauty and richness of our languages, while also taking steps to preserve and promote endangered languages for future generations.

Exit mobile version