Monday, 21 February 2011

International Mother Language Day: When, Where, What and Why

International Mother Language Day: When, Where, What and Why

by Naznin Seamon on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 12:37am ·

‘International Mother Language Day’, the term itself is self explanatory of its meaning. On November 17, 1999, February 21 was announced to be the International Mother Language Day by UNESCO. The historical incidents trails us back to 1952 and even before, that involved continuous oppression of the then, East Pakistan, now Bangladesh, by the West Pakistan after the British ruling for 200 years.

            Not only that people of Bangladesh were exploited, oppressed in education, work places, and every other sector, the Pakistani Govt. finally raised their vicious axe to the language of the people where Bengali was spoken. Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Governor of Pakistan had proclaimed Urdu to be the one and only language of Pakistan, both East and West, which ignited the long held anger and frustration of the Bangladeshi people. Being rooted from Sanskrit, according to the people in power, Bengali was considered as a lower class and religiously biased language for the Hindu population while Urdu was given eliteness due to its’ closeness to Arabic and Farsi languages; and therefore, decided to be the language of the Muslim population which make it valid to say that one of the underlying reasons was hatred towards a specific group led by religious dogma.

            The student population right away protested against this vulnerable decision. Being aware of the uproar of this act, to prevent the people from exercising their rights, the Govt. called for a curfew. In a quick response, the students and political leaders demonstrated their objection to such declaration by going out on the street ten individuals in a group. Their desperate love for Bangla and to preserve their rights made them courageous and thus, reluctant to follow the will of the people in power. While protesting, the Pakistani Army commanded by the high officials started to fire at the people. Mohammad Salauddin, Abdul Jabbar, Abul Barkat, Rafiquddin Ahmed  along with an unknown rickshaw puller whose body laid on his own rickshaw were killed. Fueled with anger, Bengali people, on the very same night constructed the 1st Shaheed Minar, Monument for the Martyrs which was destroyed by the Pakistani on the next day. The third one was rebuilt after the Freedom Fight of Bangladesh, in 1971, replicating the second version of this monument that was erected in 1957 and destroyed in the war of ’71.

            One may ask, why should we have an International Mother Language Day? Well, the purpose is to first of all, show respect to the Martyrs of 1952 who had devoted their lives for language. Secondly, it is a necessary reminder of the need to maintain and preserve our own mother tongues. Language is not a mean to talk only, rather it is strongly tied to our heritage, identity, culture, history; it tells us who we are. It is the bridge that connects our present to the past as well as our future. Of course, there are many other significant characteristics of language, but most of all, it’s a skill too.

            According to the linguistic researchers, except for 10% out of  6,000-7,000 languages that exist now in various parts of the world will be extinct in next 100 years. We have already lost many languages, and therefore, the historic glories, literature, culture, alphabets, writing systems, stories and myths attached to that language. In this technological era, it will be a great disaster if we don’t attempt to preserve the endengered languages.

            Unlike many other languages, Bengali has its’ own alphabets which manifests its’ richness. It is one of the most sweetest languages amongst all. It has its’ own writing system which follows strict rules and regulations. Banglali is the only nation on the face of earth who had sacrificed lives for language. February 21 represents Bangali’s boldness, honesty, sincerity, and passionate love for its’ language. February 21 symbolizes self-empowerment, and self- assertion against injustice.

            In the beginning of the International Mother Language Day 2011, I greet everyone. I am urging everyone to try your best to practice your mother tongue and pass it to your next generation despite of the situation you are in, make the day purposeful and show your gratitude to the martyrs of the language movement.
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International Mother Language Day: When, Where, What and Why

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