On the second Sunday in May each year, Mother’s Day is celebrated in the US, when mothers, motherhood and maternal relationships and bonds are honoured across the country. This year Mother’s Day will be on 11 May and in honour of all things motherly, here we present ten facts about the mother tongue.
1. ‘Mother tongue’ is the term used to describe the language that an individual learns from birth or speaks better than any other language.
2. In Singapore, ‘mother tongue’ refers to the language spoken by one’s ethnic group, regardless of whether the individual is proficient at speaking the language.
3. Every year, an International Mother Language Day is held around the world in order to celebrate the diversity of linguistic heritage across the world. The next Mother Language Day will be held on 21 February 2015.
4.The origins of the term ‘mother tongue’ or ‘mother language’ are lost in history, but are believed to originate from Catholic monks who used the term to differentiate the language they used from Latin.
5. Others believe that the term ‘mother tongue’ is used to describe the language passed down from mothers to their children.
6.Sujata Bhatt’s poem, Search for my Tongue, addresses the issue of losing one’s mother tongue due to living in a place where a foreign tongue is spoken.
7. Mother Tongue Other Tongue is multilingual poetry contest being run nationally in Britain by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Director of the Manchester Writing School at MMU, to celebrate the diversity of languages within the island nation.
8. Foreign language teachers split into two distinct factions when it comes to classroom-based learning, with one group believing that students’ mother tongue should be banished from the foreign language classroom, and the other feeling that the mother tongue is essential for the discussion of grammatical points regarding the language being learned.
9. For many people, the concept of their mother tongue is intrinsically linked with their identity, meaning they would not be their true self without it. In Ireland, for example, the concept of ‘ní tír gan teanga’ promotes unity, meaning ‘no land without language.’
10. The fact that there are over 4,000 links between the names for 100 parts of the human body, in over 750 languages across the world, is evidence of the existence of one ancient, single mother tongue from which all other languages has since evolved.
How does your mother tongue relate to your identity? Share your thoughts via the comments box.
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