Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world's rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost.

At least 43% of the estimated 6000 languages spoken in the world are endangered. Only a few hundred languages have genuinely been given a place in education systems and the public domain, and less than a hundred are used in the digital world.

International Mother Language Day has been observed every year since February 2000 to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism.


Languages are the most powerful instruments of preserving and developing our tangible and intangible heritage. All moves to promote the dissemination of mother tongues will serve not only to encourage linguistic diversity and multilingual education but also to develop fuller awareness of linguistic and cultural traditions throughout the world and to inspire solidarity based on understanding, tolerance and dialogue.

Every two weeks a language disappears taking with it an entire cultural and intellectual heritage.

Linguistic diversity is increasingly threatened as more and more languages disappear. Globally 40 per cent of the population does not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Nevertheless, progress is being made in mother tongue-based multilingual education with growing understanding of its importance, particularly in early schooling, and more commitment to its development in public life.

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Multilingual and multicultural societies exist through their languages which transmit and preserve traditional knowledge and cultures in a sustainable way.

This year, International Mother Language day 2019 will be framed by the International Year of indigenous languages 2019 (IYIL19) around the theme “Indigenous languages matter for development, peace building and reconciliation”.

indigenouslogo"“Indigenous peoples have always expressed their desire for education in their own languages, as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Since 2019 is the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the theme of this year’s International Mother Language Day will be indigenous languages as a factor in development, peace and reconciliation. Indigenous peoples number some 370 million and their languages account for the majority of the approximately 7,000 living languages on Earth. Many indigenous peoples continue to suffer from marginalization, discrimination and extreme poverty, and are the victims of human-rights violations (...). On this International Mother Language Day, I thus invite all UNESCO Member States, our partners and education stakeholders to recognize and enforce the rights of indigenous peoples."" - stated in her message on the International mother language day Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay. 


Belarusian language is one of the two official languages of the Republic of Belarus. The modern Belarusian language is a finally developed and standardized language that serves all forms of human activity — cultural and social life. It is the language of fiction, scientific and educational institutions, the media.

According to UNESCO, the Belarusian language belongs to the group of languages threatened with extinction. In the Atlas of the world's languages in danger it is designated as vulnerable (vulnerable, weakened). This is the first of four steps  towards extinction.

According to the survey, 48% of the population of our country considers Belarusian as their native language, 43% - Russian. This is stated in the collection of IAC "Republic of Belarus in the mirror of sociology." The study also reported that 6% of respondents chose two languages - Belarusian and Russian, and 2% - other languages as their mother tongue.

However, it turned out that people speak belarusian in everyday life very rare. According to statistics, on average, only 3% of respondents do it. But on the so-called "trasyanka" speak 43.5% of the population. People communicate on it in shops, with friends, in a family. But approximately 18.5% read the newspaper in the Belarusian language.


In the capital, Minsk there are only 5 belarusian-speaking high schools and 1 school. In Mogilev was one such class, in which studied one student. In Vitebsk and Gomel there are no belarusian classes at all.

In recent years, the policy of popularization of the belarusian language has been actively carried out at the state level. Institute of linguistics named after Yakub Kolas of NAS holds  from 18 to 24 February holds a week of mother language in the country. It is reported that the main purpose of the event is the opportunity to pay attention to the Belarusian language as a source of national culture and worldview.

"During the mother language week, leading scientists of the Yakub Kolas Institute of linguistics will speak to the public, in the media, will participate in presentations and events, which will be organized by state institutions, higher education institutions and public organizations of the country,"- reports the press service of NAS. 

To celebrate International Mother Language Day 2019, the Office of the United Nations Ombudsman and Mediation Services invites you to send us your favorite proverb in your mother tongue on the following topics: peace, harmony, conflict resolution/competence to deal with conflict, mindfulness, resilience, well-being. The proverbs will be compiled, and the most appropriate ones will be selected to be published on our website and other digital communication tools.



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