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February 21st, International Mother Language Day

February 21st is UNESCO’s International Mother Language Day. A language is the product of a community’s unique knowledge, wisdom and history. Each language is a significant part of the heritage of humanity as it contains the creativity, worldview, value system, and identity of a human community. To promote language diversity and protect the world’s languages in danger of disappearing, UNESCO decided to designate February 21st as International Mother Language Day at its 30th General Assembly in 1999.

* Mother language refers to the first language learned at home by a child, while a native language is the language of the community the child grows up in and therefore the language used by his or her group (in particular, the language of the country in which he or she grows up). Therefore, there is a difference in concept between mother language and native language. A person’s mother language and the native language of their community may not necessarily coincide, especially in countries where different languages coexist, such as India and Canada.

2019 International Year of Indigenous Languages

2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages (IYIL 2019), declared by the United Nations. According to UNESCO, there are more than 7,000 languages in the world today, but 96 percent of them are in use among a total of only 3 percent of the world's population and are in danger of disappearing rapidly. The disappearance of a language means the demise of the history, tradition and culture that it embodies. In response to this, the United Nations and UNESCO seek to raise awareness of the important contribution that indigenous languages make to our world's rich cultural diversity through the commemoration of IYIL 2019.

The Little Prince Global Read-Aloud

The Korean National Commission for UNESCO has launched a project called ‘The Little Prince Global Read-Aloud’ in which visitors to this website can listen to excerpts from The Little Prince, read by about 60 native speakers of 32 different languages. This project is designed to help showcase the beauty and diversity of the world’s languages, and to encourage people to think about the importance of protecting mother languages, in commemoration of International Mother Language Day.