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SIL International Media Release

SIL joins celebration of International Mother Language Day

IMLD Poster, © UNESCO Poster 2009 © UNESCO Poster 2009

(February 2009) The tenth International Mother Language Day will feature special events and a book launching at UNESCO headquarters in Paris on 20 February 2009. The day coincides with the closure of the United Nations–designated International Year of Languages, which has mobilized hundreds of partners worldwide for the protection and promotion of all languages, especially endangered ones.

"UNESCO has been a champion of the rights of minority language communities for 50 years. We applaud UNESCO's leadership in validating, preserving, and developing these languages. It is a privilege to be present for this International Mother Language Day celebration," states Dr. Paul Frank, Director of SIL International Relations. "SIL joins its voice and its efforts to those of UNESCO and others in support of minority communities and their right to use their language to meet their changing needs."

Besides Dr. Frank, SIL will be represented at the event in Paris by Mr. Dave Pearson, Permanent Representative to UNESCO, and Ms. Katherine Buehler, Liaison to UNESCO.

Programmed activities

In his message for Mother Language Day, Koïchiro Matsuura, Director-General of UNESCO, points out that besides "laying emphasis on each community’s recognition of its own mother tongue, the Day has increasingly drawn the international community’s attention to the foundations of linguistic diversity and multilingualism. It has also become clear that languages, which form part of the identity of individuals and peoples, are key to the Education for All and Millennium Development Goals."

International Mother Language Day, proclaimed by the General Conference of UNESCO in November 1999, has been observed yearly since February 2000. It provides an opportunity to recognize linguistic diversity and the importance of multilingual education. It originated as an international counterpart to Bangladesh’s Language Movement Day, which was established in 1952.

Representative participation by SIL in International Year of Languages

Research publications

Multilingual education

Fonts and language in cyberspace


Millennium Development Goals


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