Everything you need to know for our International Mother Language Day quiz!

19/02/2019 | Rebecca Twose

February 21st is International Mother Language Day (IMLD), and the theme this year is “Indigenous languages matter for development, peace building and reconciliation”. In order to celebrate the event, we’ve created a short and simple quiz that will test your knowledge about IMLD.

When you complete the quiz, screenshot your score and email it to [email protected], and you’ll be put into a draw with the chance to win a £25 Amazon voucher! You have until 28/02/2019 to enter, and the winner will be announced on the 01/03/2019. You must be following Language Insight on Linked In to enter.

Before you give the quiz a go you need to make sure you know your stuff. So keep reading and you’ll soon become an IMLD expert…

The History of IMLD

IMLD is an annual event organised by UNESCO and has been taking place officially since 1999, but the roots of IMLD actually go back to Bangladesh in 1952. 

In 1948, Pakistan’s government’s decided to change the national language to Urdu, which came as a result of Bangladesh and Pakistan being part of the same country at that time. However, East Pakistan (that would now be classed as Bangladesh) and West Pakistan had several cultural and linguistic differences, with the West speaking Urdu and the East speaking Bengali.

The government at that time was largely made up of Western Pakistanis and so they decided to change the national language Urdu, as that was their mother tongue. However, Eastern Pakistanis wanted to keep Bengali as their national language and many protests against the government soon followed.

On February 21st 1952, students at the University of Dhaka organised a protest against the government, with the help of other activists. A few hours into the protests, the police opened fire on demonstrators and killed 4 of the students. UNESCO therefore chose February 21st as the official date for International Mother Language Day in remembrance of the activists who gave their lives to preserve their mother tongue.

What are the aims of IMLD?

IMLD has been an official event since 1999, but what does the day actually aim to achieve? According to UNESCO, International Mother Language Day works towards “preserving linguistic diversity and promoting mother tongue-based multilingual education”.

There are approximately 7,000 languages in the world and around 2,000 of these are classified as endangered. More and more languages are becoming endangered every week as some languages are taking up huge percentages of the world’s speakers. The most widely spoken language in the world is Mandarin with over 1.2 billion speakers. With languages like Mandarin, indigenous languages are slowly being used less as there isn’t a large demand for these languages to be used in today’s modernised world compared to the likes of Mandarin and English.

This is why UNESCO are stepping in to help preserve indigenous languages. Language is a huge part of culture and this is why having a diverse range of languages is so important. Some countries have a wider range of languages than others for example in London approximately 300 languages are used. Language diversity can help save knowledge, cultural diversity, help development and promote peace there UNESCO are encouraging everyone to become more linguistically diverse.

“Languages are the repository of thousands of years of a people’s science and art – from observations of ecological patterns to creation myths. The disappearance of a language is not only a loss for the community of speakers itself, but for our common human knowledge of mathematics, biology, geography, philosophy, agriculture, and linguistics.”

David Harrison, linguist, USA

Feeling like an International Mother Language Day expert yet? If you are then you’re ready to take our IMLD quiz.

After you’ve completed the quiz, screenshot your score and email it to [email protected], and you’ll be put into a draw with the chance to win a £25 Amazon voucher! You have until 28/02/2019 to enter, and the winner will be announced on the 01/03/2019. You must be following Language Insight on Linked In to enter.

Good luck!

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