21 February 2014 marks the fifteenth “International Mother Language Day”. Established by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) in 1999, it aims to promote linguistic and cultural diversity, as well as multilingualism. The theme for this year is “Local languages for global citizenship: spotlight on science”.
So who will be celebrating? Well, around 25% of the total world population (that’s about 1.75 billion people) are thought to speak English proficiently, but actually only just over 5% are English mother tongue speakers. China should top the list of parties on the day given that an estimated 14% of the world’s population speak Mandarin Chinese as their first language, while Spanish native speakers account for around 5.8%.
There will be events worldwide to mark the occasion, such as multilingual story-time sessions in libraries in Australia, international student parties in universities in Japan and food festivals in the United States. There will also be an International Symposium on Translation and Cultural Mediation to discuss the preservation, development and recognition of mother tongues in the hope that people will be inspired to learn a new language.
Business Language Services can tailor language training courses to your individual requirements, so if you fancy brushing up on your rusty school French, or perhaps your partner speaks another language and you’d like to surprise them with sweet nothings in their native tongue, just get in touch and we’d be happy to help!