In order to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism International Mother Language Day is celebrated on February 21. Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. Mother language has a very powerful impact in the formation of the individual. Although decades have passed since India gained independence from British Raj, the debate whether learning English is more important than one’s own mother tongue continues. The main purpose of celebrating this day is to promote the awareness of language and cultural diversity all across the world. International Mother Language Day is celebrated in memory of the four students who were killed while fighting for their mother language and is celebrated to remember the sacrifices made by them. Nelson Mandela had said, “If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.” Every language spoken in the world represents a special culture, melody, colour and asset and to everyone the mother language is certainly one of the most precious treasures in our lives.
It is important to learn one’s mother tongue because it is the vehicle of culture and tradition. Since language and nationalism are closely related, we should also be careful that emphasis on mother tongue not lead to a narrow-minded linguistic nationalism either. One’s mother language is ingrained in his/her cultural identity and history. Languages are the first and most valuable treasure to a nation, lots of resources are destinated to protect material heritage but very little to is being done to preserve languages. Language is the essence and identity of culture, and is a major tool for communication. It is a major tool for exchanging ideas, emotions and feelings. To know your language is the key way to maintain and preserve your culture. Mother-language plays a tremendously useful role in the education of a child. It has a great importance in the field of education. Preserving a language requires the strength and efforts of a community.
Researchers have discovered that children who are taught in their mother language understand concepts better. Children need to hear quantity and quality language input in order to have strong language skills, and parents are the primary individuals who can provide the language input needed in the mother language.
As a language dies, a society’s history and cultures dies with it. Every human being deserves the right to use their mother language, and to take pride in it as we do. Acceptance and opportunities given by the universities have encouraged many students to venture out and experience their mother tongue to its full capacity. Original ideas are the product of one’s own mother tongue. On account of the facility of thought and expression, new and original ideas take birth and get shape only in one’s own mother language.
Using one’s mother tongue at home will make it easier for children to be comfortable with their own cultural identity. It is very important for our Indian community children residing abroad to learn and respect their own mother tongue and this is possible only if parents inculcate this habit from the very infancy. There are instances where the people migrating to America from different linguistic regions of India and may choose to study Hindi even if it is not their “mother tongue”. It is important that within India, diversity in language and culture should be valued by the establishment. Due to the inherent diversity within India, in most parts, people and society do accept diversity implicitly. It’s a duty and responsibility to preserve our Mother language and pass it down from generation to generation.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)