Focus on new information technologies for International Mother Language Day
Half of the world’s 6,000 languages are endangered. International Mother Language Day (IMLD, 21 February) underlines the importance of preserving this cultural and linguistic wealth.
The theme for this year – The information and communication technologies for the safeguarding and promotion of languages and linguistic diversity – highlights the new technologies’ enormous potential for safeguarding, documenting and promoting the use of mother languages.
As UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova underlines in her message, each language “is a unique source of meaning for understanding, writing and expressing reality” and the international day is “a moment to recognize their importance and to mobilise for multilingualism and linguistic diversity.”
“We must harness the power of progress to protect diverse visions of the world and to promote all sources of knowledge and forms of expression,” added the Director-General.
On 21 February (Room IV, 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.), UNESCO is holding an information meeting and debate, “Projects on Linguistic Diversity and New Technologies”. Linguists, experts and representatives of UNESCO, the International Organisation of La Francophonie and the Latin Union will report on the latest updates of the Atlas of the World’s Languages in Danger, as well as the first results of a UNESCO project that analyses linguistic trends since the 1950s. Debates on bilingual education and the new technologies are also on the agenda.
Meanwhile, UNESCO will be launching a campaign this year via the social media Twitter and Facebook to encourage users to share stories, photos and videos illustrating the potential of new technologies for the promotion of linguistic diversity.
UNESCO promotes linguistic diversity through a wide range of projects around the world. In Chile, it has published educational materials in three indigenous languages, mapuche, aymara and rapa nui. In Brazil, endangered indigenous languages and cultures are being inventoried in an effort to preserve them. In Africa, a programme designed to safeguard the Batammariba culture has been launched in the Koutammakou region (Togo) and is teaching the ditrammari language in 12 local schools.
International Mother Language Day, celebrated every year since 2000 on 21 February, aims to raise awareness of the importance of cultural and linguistic diversity and of multilingual education.
Journalists must request accreditation to cover the Day’s events at UNESCO.
Contact: Djibril Kebé + 33 (0)1 45 68 17 41 / d.kebe(at)unesco.org