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21 Feb. 2024

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International Mother Language Day: what you need to know about languages that will soon cease to exist

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International Mother Language Day: what you need to know about languages that will soon cease to exist

The celebration of Mother Language Day reminds us not only of the beauty and importance of our native language, but also of the need to protect and support linguistic diversity. Learn more about the history of this holiday and the uniqueness of the Ukrainian language

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Every year on 21 February, the world celebrates Mother Language Day, a holiday that draws attention to the importance of language as a component of national identity, culture and consciousness. This holiday not only honours the history and development of language, but also reminds us of the need to preserve and support our language traditions.


History of the International Mother Language Day


On 21 February 1952, Bangladesh (then East Pakistan) passed a resolution banning the use of Bengali as one of the official languages. This act caused mass protests among the population, which took place under the slogans "Language is our truth, language is our right". The protests led to casualties, but also to the achievement of the goal: Bengali was recognised as one of the official languages of Pakistan.


This event formed the basis for the celebration of Mother Language Day, which became a symbol of the struggle for language rights and cultural identity of peoples. Since then, this holiday has been celebrated all over the world, reminding us of the importance of respecting our mother tongue and other linguistic cultures.


According to the United Nations, there are more than 6,000 languages in the world today, but almost half of them are endangered.


Here are some of the languages that are at risk:


 Wirajuri - the language of the indigenous Wirajuri people of Australia, spoken by 30 people. This language can be heard in the southwestern part of New South Wales.

 Nahuat, another name for Pipil, is the language of the Pipil people, which belongs to the Yuto-Aztecan language group. It is spoken by about 200 people in El Salvador.

 Cornish is the language of the Cornish people, who are part of the British branch of the Celtic group of the Indo-European language family. The Cornish language is spoken in British Cornwall. By the way, this language was recognised as extinct, but after its revival, it was transferred to the "endangered" category.

 North Frisian is one of the Frisian languages in the Germanic subgroup. It is spoken in Germany by about 8-10 thousand people, and the number of speakers is constantly decreasing.

 Ojibwe is an indigenous language of North America, consisting of dialects with local names and local writing systems. Today, 6,000 people speak this language.


Interestingly, Ukraine also has native speakers of a language that may soon cease to exist. We are talking about the Karaite language, which belongs to the Kipchak group of Turkic languages.


There are three dialects of the Karaite language: Trakai (a dialect of Lithuanian Karaites), Galician (a dialect of Karaites in western Ukraine) and Crimean. 


On 21 February, most people remember languages that may become extinct. However, we should not forget about those that are considered to be the most basic on our planet and that allow completely different peoples and nationalities to communicate with each other.


In 2009, Ukrainian was ranked 22nd among the most popular languages in the world. According to the well-known Ethnologue language guide, 47 million people spoke it then.


It is also worth remembering that, according to many philologists, Ukrainian is one of the most beautiful and melodious languages on the planet. That's why we're going to talk about it next.




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The Ukrainian language, or rather the nightingale language


Ukrainian undoubtedly has a special place among the world's languages. As one of the oldest languages in Europe, it has a rich history and development. The Ukrainian language belongs to the Slavic group of languages, but at the same time it has its own differences and unique features determined by historical, cultural and linguistic factors.


It is worth noting that the history of the Ukrainian language dates back to Kyivan Rus. However, on its way to the present day, the language has gone through many difficult times, such as under russian Emperor Peter the Great, who banned Ukrainian in 1721. However, he never managed to eradicate it.


After some time, the existence of the Ukrainian language was known almost all over the world. This was facilitated by the great poets Ivan Kotliarevsky and Taras Shevchenko, whose works The Aeneid and Kobzar were recognised as the world literature of the 19th century.


Ukraine, like its native language, has faced and still faces oppression from russia throughout its history. Even the current dictator of the russian federation has repeatedly stated that Ukraine is an "artificial country". It is worth recalling that the russian Empire's Peter Valuev said the same thing about the Ukrainian language when he issued an order to ban it forever.


But such a powerful language can never lose its existence, as one of its outstanding features is the richness of its vocabulary. The Ukrainian language has a large number of words that express different concepts, shades of feelings and emotions, which allows us to express our thoughts and ideas clearly.


Another important feature of the Ukrainian language is its phonetics and melody. The sound of Ukrainian words has its own music, which often impresses with its emotionality and depth.


Earlier we wrote that forecasts of the further development of the Ukrainian language for the next 200 years are of particular interest, as this is not only an extremely difficult task, but also an opportunity to look into the language's distant future. We tell you what to expect and what changes may occur here.


Want to know more? Read the latest news and useful materials about Ukraine and the world in the News section.




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