from the Director-General on the occasion of the
There is a common saying in the Spanish-speaking world, Hablando, se entiende
la gente, which broadly translates as "By speaking, people understand
each other". Too often in our everyday lives, we take the language or
languages we speak for granted. Language is so much a part of our lives
and of our identities, indeed of the very way we think and behave, that
we sometimes forget its basic function, that of communication and understanding.
And of the languages that are spoken in the world, the most significant
for our early emotional and cognitive development is that through which
we first learn to name our personal universe and by means of which we
begin to achieve a common understanding with our parents, family and the
broader community of friends and school. It is the language of childhood,
of intimate family experience and of our early social relations.
celebration of International Mother Language Day, first observed two years
ago, we honour the myriad of languages in the world, the cultures they
mediate and the essence of human creativity contained in their development
and expression. There are over 6,000 languages spoken in the world, each
with its own complex system of sounds, meanings and grammar. To be sure,
some languages are spoken by more native speakers, others have greater
geographic extension in the world. While some languages are written, others
are not; different languages use different kinds of writing systems, and
each language has its own accompaniment of gestures, expressions and body
language, a reflection in turn of cultural norms. Yet on International
Mother Language Day, all languages are given equal recognition, for each
is a unique response to the human condition and each is a living heritage
we should cherish.
more than ever, let us seek understanding and recognition of other people
and other cultures through respect for their languages and for the ways
of thinking that these embody.
would like to invite UNESCO's Member States to translate this message
into as many of their countries' languages as is feasible.
International Mother Language Day
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