The theme for International Mother Language Day this year is preserving linguistic diversity and promoting multilingualism.
We in the Library would like to invite everyone, students and staff alike to take a few moments today to celebrate their mother language. Please come to the Library and write a greeting or phrase in your mother language and share it on the board, and whilst you are here put a pin in our world map indicating your country of origin. We would also love you to share on the Library Facebook page images or videos of yourselves saying a greeting in your mother tongue. Look at some of last years’ student and staff contributions here and here
International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000. The United Nations by establishing International Mother Language Day wishes to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.
It is through the mastery of our first language, or mother tongue that the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy are acquired. Local languages, especially minority and indigenous, transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge creating rich cultural diversity.
More than 50 per cent of the approximately 7,000 languages spoken in the world are likely to die out within a few generations, and 96 per cent of these languages are spoken by a mere 4 per cent of the world’s population.
Whilst English is the most widely spoken language in New Zealand, it is not one of the two ‘official’ languages of New Zealand: they are Māori and New Zealand Sign Language, which became the official languages in 1987 and 2006 respectively.
Māori Language Week was established in 1975, and celebrates the use of Te Reo Māori and will be held 10-16 September this year. In 2013, there were around 125,000 speakers of Māori in New Zealand representing about 21 per cent of the Māori population and 3 per cent of all New Zealanders (2013 census). In 1986, the Waitangi Tribunal recognised Te reo Māori as a taonga (treasure).
New Zealand Sign Language is the natural language of deaf New Zealanders and is used daily by more than 20,000 Kiwis. Rather than simply being a signed representation of spoken English, NZSL is a separate language, with its own structure and grammar (2013 census).
New Zealand Sign Language Week celebrates one of New Zealand’s official languages, held 7 to 13 May 2018. NZSL Week raises awareness of New Zealand’s Deaf community and provides a platform for Deaf people to promote their language and culture.