The annual observance of International Mother Language Day (IMLD) on February 21 focuses this year on multilingualism and linguistic diversity, with mention of their importance for sustainable development and peace. The theme has been seen in several forms, including:
- Acting together for Linguistic diversity and Multilingualism (per poster above)
- Linguistic diversity and multilingualism count for sustainable development (as seen on the program for the IMLD event at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris)
- Linguistic diversity and multilingualism: keystones of sustainability and peace (as seen on the UNESCO website)
In her message on the occasion of IMLD, UNESCO director Audrey Azoulay characterized the importance of languages in this way:
A language is far more than a means of communication; it is the very condition of our humanity. Our values, our beliefs and our identity are embedded within it. It is through language that we transmit our experiences, our traditions and our knowledge. The diversity of languages reflects the incontestable wealth of our imaginations and ways of life.
2018 Linguapax Prize to BASAbali
The annual Linguapax Prize, which recognizes contributions to “preservation of linguistic diversity, revitalization and reactivation of linguistic communities, and the promotion of multilingualism,” is traditionally announced on IMLD. This year’s prize was awarded to BASAbali, an organization founded in 2011 to support and develop the Balinese language of Indonesia, and to develop language revitalization methods.
BASAbali’s founder, Alissa Stern, is quoted on the Linguapax site as describing the group as follows:
BASAbali is founded in the belief that all languages, but most importantly a language of a great culture such as Balinese, deserve recognition and use in the modern world — and not be relegated to a language of rural farmers or a language of home, not worthy of activities associated with learning, public affairs and local educational and political practices. The aim, in short, is to develop facilities that will enable Balinese and other local languages to occupy a position of prestige alongside modern national and international languages and to carry forward their rich cultural traditions.