International Mother Language Day | February 21
International Mother Language Day was first announced by UNESCO in 1999, and formally recognized the United Nations General Assembly in 2008 to promote multilingualism (knowing more than one language).
We All Share Language
Language is common to all peoples. In fact, some scholars such as Steven A. Pinker believe language makes us human:
Language is incredibly complex. The average 8-year old knows about 10,00 words, and the average adult knows between 20,000 to 35,000 words.1 Anyone who has tried to learn another language knows there are new words and rules of grammar to learn. Yet in our mother language, we all know how to tell a story, ask for something or tell a joke!
As the world becomes more interconnected, many languages are being replaced by more common languages.
In many countries, people are discriminated against for speaking a minority language. Some people of minority languages don't teach their children their mother language, thinking their children have better access to jobs and advancement through learning only the majority language.
However, diversity of language is important, because languages can also become endangered or extinct, when the last living speaker dies.
Some linguists believe it is important to preserve these mother languages, just like preserving endangered animals, because they preserve human knowledge and culture. Languages also open up to us different ways of seeing the world. In Cherokee, for example, there is a word for the feeling when you see an adorable kitten, which has no English equivalent: oo-kah-huh-sdee.2
In Cherokee, there is a word for the feeling when you see an adorable kitten, which has no English equivalent: oo-kah-huh-sdee
View short films
Each of these 4 independent filmmakers poignantly depict the work being done by individuals to preserve their native cultures and their original languages. How does each short movie suggest answers to the following questions:
Why do we need to preserve these disappearing languages?
How can Native Americans provide the basis for preventing the extinction of their words and traditions?
What role do the younger generations play in creating a bridge between the tribal elders and their knowledge in order to preserve the language, customs and rituals that is their heritage?
Sequoyah's greatest achievement was the invention of a method for his people to write and read their own language. This great leader was celebrated not as a warrior, but as a man of ideas. Today, a statue of Sequoyah stands in the Capitol building in Washington D.C. He is a truly outstanding example of an Indian who made his mark on history.
1 "Lexical Facts." The Economist. https://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2013/05/vocabulary-size
2 "Why We Must Save Dying Languages." BBC Future. http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20140606-why-we-must-save-dying-languages
Organizer created on 2/18/2018 1:16:13 PM by Staff
Last edited 2/14/2019 8:01:29 PM by victoria murphy