There are approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world and approximately half of them are at least vulnerable of becoming critically endangered, if not extinct. The two foremost reasons why languages die are:

  1. People in small communities who choose to learn and speak a more widely-used language ultimately replace their native language.
  2. A language is imposed on them by government.

A language lives through the people who speak it. Therefore, teaching babies and children their inherited language is the best thing to do to keep that language alive. Reviving a language is possible: the Yurok language, one of the 90 languages of California, which was on the verge of extinction, is now being taught in schools.

The International Mother Language Day

On 21st February each year, people celebrate the International Mother Language Day (IMLD) to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity.

According to the International Mother Language Day website, languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage.

Sharing mother tongues helps to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education while encouraging fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world.

International Mother Language Day on Twitter

Rising Voices, a project of Global Voices Online, aims to extend the benefits and reach of citizen media by connecting people around the world. International Mother Language Day provides an ideal opportunity to encourage people using online digital media to revitalise their native languages.

Here is how you can help:

  1. On Friday, 21st February, tweet in your mother language about why it’s important to use your native tongue.
  2. Follow that tweet with a translation so that more people following along can read your message.
  3. Add the following hashtags to your tweet:
    • #imld14 (International Mother Language Day 2014)
    • #(the name of the language you are writing in). For example, #cherokee #bambara #xhosa
  4. Follow along the hashtag, #imld14, to see messages from around the world and retweet to help amplify their message.

Throughout the day, the people involved in this project will be featuring many of the tweets at @risingvoices. We encourage everybody to show love of their mother tongue and participate in this campaign.