International Mother Language Day was proclaimed by the General Conference of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in November 1999. Yesterday, 21 February marked the day when various global initiatives to safeguard and celebrate the phenomenal variety of languages. International Mother Language Day promotes linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. The date represents the day in 1952 when students demonstrating for recognition of their language, Bangla, as one of the two national languages of the then Pakistan, were shot and killed by police in Dhaka, the capital of what is now Bangladesh.
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.
Well, what does this have to do with music? Music and language have an intricate relationship. Researchers have long debated whether or not language and music depend on common processes in the mind. In 2007, researchers at Georgetown University Medical Center have found evidence that the processing of music and language do indeed depend on some of the same brain systems. Nevertheless, if we regard music as a language, UNESCO's International Mother Language Day can take on a completely new meaning. Musical languages, cultivated in particular cultural contexts, should be embraced, celebrated and most importantly, discovered.
You can listen to the programs aired yesterday in conjunction with SOAS Radio.
Live the language: live the music. A couple of ideas...