February 21, 2017

The Good City brings you a video celebrating the lengua materna (Spanish), lingua madre (Italian), langue maternelle (French), matribhasha (Sanskrit) and thaimozhi (Tamil) - all different mother tongues.

Why? Because yesterday was the International Mother Language Day which is recognised by the UN. February 21 is acknowledged as a day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity around the world.

‘It’s only words, and words are all I have to take your heart away’, sang the Bee Gees and don’t words sound all the sweeter when they are in one’s mother tongue?  

Meet the sweet talkers in our video:

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More than the place we hail from, it is the language we speak that unites us. Whether it is a Bengali in Bengaluru, a Punjabi in Mumbai, or a Kannadiga in Delhi, when we meet someone who speaks our language there is an instant rush of fellow-feeling that unites us with people we have never met before. Nelson Mandela once said, “When you talk to a man in his language, it goes to his heart.”

The meaning of home has radically changed for many of us who have ventured out of the nest in search of a brighter future; for us especially, maybe our mother tongue is the closest we'll get to home right now.

Why do we have an International Mother Language Day?

This day commemorates an integral event in history, where people in East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh) laid down their lives to retain their native language. During the Language Movement in 1952, on this day, four students in Dhaka refused to accept Urdu as their national language in place of Bengali, and were murdered by Pakistani soldiers.

Bangladesh celebrates this day with colourful pomp and zest; women deck up in traditional attire and the people sing and dance to celebrate the beauty of Bengali (supposedly the sixth most spoken language in the world.)

Besides Bangladesh, countries like Tokyo, Japan, US, UK, Italy and Spain also celebrate this day.

-Text & Video by Ankita Sarkar