Tomorrow UNESCO will be celebrating International Mother Language Day, the annual observance which promotes the preservation and protection of languages all around the world. Since its inception in November 1999, the day has brought greater attention to languages facing extinction through celebrating multiculturalism, multilingualism and cultural diversity.
Over 7,000 languages are spoken around the world with Mandarin being the most widely spoken, followed by Spanish then English. It is estimated that one language dies every day as communities abandon their native languages in favor of languages which provide greater opportunities and means of communication with the rest of the world. Some languages at risk of extinction include Amurdak, an Aboriginal tongue from Australia and Wintu, a native tongue in California, USA. These languages and many others have only a handful, if not one fluent speaker. As Russ Rymer so solemnly describes in his article “Vanishing Voices” in the National Geographic, “A last speaker with no one to talk to exists in unspeakable solitude.”
The day also marks the anniversary of the Bengali Language Movement.
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