Significance of Mother Language | Sunday Observer

Significance of Mother Language

The International Mother Language Day will be held on February 21, starting at 9 am at the Vihara Mahadevi Park, Colombo. This year’s program has been organized by the Bangladesh High Commission in Sri Lanka, together with, the Ministry of National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages, Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Sri Lanka Scouts and the Colombo Municipal Council.

Bangladesh High Commissioner to Sri Lanka, M Riaz Hamidullah together with Speaker Karu Jayasuriya, Minister of Internal Affairs, Wayamba Development and Cultural Affairs, S.B. Navinna, Minister of National Co-existence, Dialogue and Official Language, Mano Ganeshan, and Prof. J. B. Dissanayake will participate at the event. Prof Dissanayake will deliver a speech on ‘the significance and context of Mother Language and the Day’.

After the inauguration ceremony and the discussion, the dignitaries and members of the Diplomatic Community will proceed to the canvasses under the canopy on three different themes, named – Music Connects, Language Connects and Blood Connects.

The first,‘Music Connects’ is presented by a group of students from the University of the Visual and Performing Arts, Colombo, and would render instrumental music of Bangla, Sinhala and Tamil patriotic songs.

Language Connects will welcome people of all walks of life to sketch/write/draw brief message in their respective mother language on large-sized canvass. Messages/expressions/emotions/images should reflect respective linguistic tradition and heritage.

The students/faculty of the University of the Visual & Performing Arts, Colombo will be there to support the visitors. People will have the liberty to paint/write on the canvass in any colour of choice and each canvass would form a unique creative collage.

The Blood Connects camp is for forming real connection with people’s hearts and mind. A voluntary blood donation camp has been organized with the support of the Sri Lanka Scout Association.

The Blood donation Camp is organized by the Sri Lanka Scout Association, Colombo District branch under the guidance of Deputy Chief Commissioner, Janaprith Fernando, coordinated by Assistant District Commissioner, Capt. Kithsiri Jayatilleke, supported by 16th Colombo S.Thomas’ College Scouts and other troops of the Colombo district and districts of the Western Province. This event coincides with the World Scout Founders Day, which is 22 February.

Language connects creative diversity

Language is the most distinctive feature of mankind, the most effective carrier of cultural heritage across civilizations. Discovery of language and development of writing have been the landmark in the evolution of mankind. Protecting and promoting fundamental rights for all people to use their respective mother tongue has always been crucial.

Man is not endowed with the gift of language as soon as he sees the light of the world: he only has the physical and mental capability to learn a language. As he is fed by his mother – day in and day out – an infant begins to imitate the sounds produced by his mother. The mother and the infant begin to communicate between themselves in their common vernacular. Thus originates the language of man, which becomes his ‘mother language’ or, ‘mother tongue’.

That ‘first’ ie. ‘mother tongue’ for every human is also his ‘first language’. All other languages that a man acquires in later life are considered ‘second languages’. The mother language is the main symbol of ethnic identity. Neither blood nor physiological features help in the identification of any particular ethnicity ie. a person belongs to a specific ethnic group not because of his blood or his facial features, but because s/he speaks the native language of her/his ethnic origin. This s/he inherits from her/his mother as her/his mother speaks that language. Mother language sparks the most original thinking in a man. Spurs imagination, creativity and innovation in every child. Symbolizes ethnic identity. Accords members of a community pride and self-esteem.

No modern multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-linguistic nation in recorded history could secure peace and harmony by positioning one, of its language as the only official language. Every mother tongue therefore, needs to be held in due respect – just as one’s mother.

Today, the existence of so many languages of diverse ethnic groups and communities and their identities are at risk. Peace – stability – sustainable development in any community or nation can only be sustained by securing linguistic and cultural diversity and promoting multilingualism. In the globalized and ‘flat’ world, no mother tongue can be left aside. Let everyone’s mother language flourish in its own rightful way. Let our mother tongues unite us, in all their majestic diversity. 

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