Message from the Director-General on the occasion of the
International Mother Language Day - 21 February 2002

Chinese - English - French - Russian - Spanish

International Mother Language Day aims at promoting linguistic diversity and multilingual education, and at raising awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Today, about half of the 6,000 or so languages spoken in the world are under threat. Over the past three centuries, languages have died out and disappeared at a dramatic and steadily increasing pace, especially in the Americas and Australia. At least 3,000 tongues are endangered, seriously endangered or dying in many parts of the world.

International Mother Language Day, which is celebrated on 21 February every year throughout the world, was launched at the 30th session of the General Conference of UNESCO in 1999.


Leaflet on International Mother Language Day 2002 (PDF) and also the 2002 Poster