International Mother Language Day - Students learn a minority language for a day

The Schools of Linguistics & Modern Languages come together to host an event to celebrate UNESCO's International Mother Language Day on Wednesday, February 23rd.

The spirit of the day was to arrange various types of language-related events, with particular focus on minority languages. Languages represented on the day will included Catalan, Friulan (spoken in a small region in the North-east of Italy on the Alps), Galician, Irish, Lombard and Welsh.

The School hoped to bring together members of staff who speak a "small" language by asking them to teach a student to read out a brief passage or poem in their language. Staff also prepared a brief explanation, history of the language along with an English translation of the chosen passage.

The event was organised by Dr. Marco Tamburelli, a lecturer in Bilingualism at Bangor University, and Dr Helena Miguelez, a Spanish lecturer within Bangor University’s School of Modern Languages. Dr Tamburelli said: “We held the event because we share UNESCO's belief that linguistic variety is a thing to be celebrated.

“Moreover, several staff in both Linguistics & Modern Languages have an interest in minority language issues and policies, such as language maintenance & language rights.

“As the day usually has a focus on minority and less well-known languages (as you may appreciate, majority languages can fend for themselves without having a day dedicated to them...), we thought it would be a good way to raise awareness.
“Also, we find that although people may have heard the name of many of the smaller languages of Europe, they do not always have an idea of what they sound like, and this would be a good opportunity for a "taster".
 “I guess the reasons I just outlined also kind of tell you what we hope to achieve, though perhaps I might add that we hope to get more people interested in the small languages represented by our Schools, and in minority language issues in general.

“We are hoping that some of our audience might wish to find out more about some of the languages, with some researchers perhaps becoming interested in working on one or more of the languages themselves or on issues raised by the (sometimes peculiar) social situations in which they are spoken.”

International Mother Language Day is intended “to promote the preservation and protection of all languages used by peoples of the world". International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.

The event was held on Wednesday 23rd February in the School of Modern Languages, in the room called "Tricolore". It was filmed so that it can sent as a contribution to the UNESCO website where there is a collection of various initiatives on International Mother Language Day.
The actual UNESCO International was on Monday, February 21st and to visit the official UNESCO's page click here

Publication date: 28 February 2011