The important story behind International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is an annual celebration of multilingualism and cultural diversity, held on February 21st.

It was first announced by UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – in 1999 and has been observed every year since 2000.

While this day represents a celebration cultural awareness and tolerance, it also, unfortunately, represents a tragic moment in history.

In 1952 in Dhaka, in what was then Pakistan and today is the capital of Bangladesh, dozens of “language martyr” students demonstrated for the recognition of their Bengali mother tongue near the high-court. They were subsequently killed by police forces.

From that moment on, the Language Movement became one of the most formidable protest movements leading up to Bangladeshi independence in 1971.

The Shaheed Minar, meaning Martyr’s Monument (pictured above), commemorates the students who sacrificed themselves for the Bengali language. Today, all mourning, national and cultural activities centre around the monument, located just by Dhaka University.

So, let us use this day to remember those who sacrificed their lives and and remember the importance in embracing all the world’s cultures and languages.

Happy International Mother Language Day from everyone at Today Translations!