A display at York University’s Keele Campus celebrating International Mother Language Day highlights linguistic and cultural diversity and promotes the protection and preservation of languages.
The display was organized by the linguistics section, with the Linguistics Students Association in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Linguistics (DLLL) as part of its ongoing World Cultures Celebrations initiative, and runs until March 2. The display is open to visitors during regular business hours and is located at the department’s main office, room 580, South Ross Building, Keele Campus.
The department mounted display in recognition of the diversity in the community and the importance of all languages, and to provide information about the celebration. It allows the community to participate by asking them to include the word for ‘mother’ in their own language on the language trees.
International Mother Language Day has been observed around the world every Feb. 21 since 2000, when it was first adopted by the UN General Assembly as a result of an initiative by Bangladesh. The date was selected to honour those who died in the 1952 Bengali language movement, which was a political movement to have Bengali (Bangla) recognized as an official language of the Dominion of Pakistan.
As a result of globalization, language loss is an ever-increasing threat. Currently, about 41 per cent of the approximately 7,000 existing languages are endangered. With each vanishing language, speakers lose an integral part of their culture and heritage and scholarship loses important traditional knowledge and an understanding of linguistic possibilities.
Toronto is a city of tremendous linguistic diversity with almost 180 different languages and dialects spoken and about 40 per cent of the population having a mother tongue other than English.