By Mehdi Garshasbi

Mother tongue is the soul of life

February 21, 2021 - 17:6

TEHRAN - International Mother Language Day is celebrated each year on February 21. It is a source of inspiration to build multicultural and inclusive societies where people of all races, faiths, languages, and cultures get respect and can live with dignity.

The United Nations General Assembly has called upon member states "to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world". 

The day recognizes that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goal’s focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO believes education, based on the first language or mother tongue, must begin from the early years as early childhood care and education is the foundation of learning.

This year’s observance is a call on policymakers, educators and teachers, parents, and families to scale up their commitment to multilingual education, and inclusion in education to advance education recovery in the context of COVID-19. 

Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education, and development, are of strategic importance for people and the planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat of disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost.

It is said that 43 percent of the estimated 6,000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. 

Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

Today there is growing awareness that languages play a vital role in development, in ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue, but also in strengthening co-operation and attaining quality education for all, in building inclusive knowledge societies and preserving cultural heritage, and in mobilizing political will for applying the benefits of science and technology to sustainable development.

Learning more languages is useful as it offers more windows to the world besides enabling cross-cultural understanding, peace, and harmony. However, it can't be achieved without a strong foundation in one's own first language. Mother tongue is the soul of life.