Honouring International Mother Language Day

The 21st of February is declared as ‘International Mother Language Day’. Generally, most of us take language for granted. Have we ever wondered: ‘how does human language evolve?’. Or the even more intriguing question: ‘when did human language begin?’. The answers to these questions remain obscure with many assumptions and theories. It’s believed that language certainly evolved and might have gradually progressed from sign gestures and symbolization to probably some sort of sounds like grunting, hooting or crying out as a mode of communication with each other. Exploration on language and linguistic evolution has been very interesting and unique. Many researchers involved in exploring language are mainly linguists, psychologists and biologists. Sadly, spoken language doesn’t leave any fossils for modern humans to investigate further, and thus the exact time period of a spoken language’s origin can never be concluded. But, we do have archeological evidence of written language from way back: 3500BC, which is more then 5000 years ago! Another contingent fact is that language certainly evolved through human anatomy development involving the vocal cord and neural canal. Anatomical features play an important role in speech capabilities. Many scholars agree that  language evolution progressed in stages over a million years through the succession of hominid lines. At earlier stages, maybe just producing sound, sign and symbols were used as tools for communication, followed by the invention of new vocabulary. Subsequently, digitalization of the signals into much more discrete speech sounds such as consonant and vowels requires the brain to control the vocal cord and interpret it into more prominent speech and auditory signals – pheewwww!!! doesn’t that sound like an anatomy class? Well, let’s leave complicated matters aside then. For me, language is one the most unique discoveries by human beings. Human language has an amazing diversity; built from thousands of words, dozens of speech sounds, unlimited numbers of phrases, various meanings of sentences made from individual words – the list goes on. There are more then 6900 languages spoken around the world and almost half of it are from the African region. Language is not only used as a mode of communication but also as a symbol of pride for every community. This is why the term ‘mother tongue’ is often used to mark an individual’s first language or native language. The mother tongue plays a crucial role in a person’s linguistic capability. It’s the first language they are exposed to or used regularly as they grow up. More importantly, the native language enables enculturation of an individual. With globalization and in our fast moving world, almost all of us tend to adapt to a second language due to the needs of our education and job. Certainly learning and mastering a second language has inarguable benefits and must be made compulsory for every individual’s intellectual development. At the same time, let’s not forsake our own ancestral language or mother tongue, even if it’s not the dominant spoken language in the region we grow or live. For me as a Malaysian, my national language Bahasa Malaysia is of my utmost priority, followed by the world’s lingua franca: English! But above all, my native language, which is the amazing and sweet Telugu and also known as ‘the Italian of the East’, will always be my first love ❤️ Lets celebrate world’s language day with a sense of appreciation! “Nee baasha nee preminchu, aa baasha nee jeevinchu, kaani maatru baashani eppatiki gauravinchu” 🙏🏻 Which means, “Treasure our own mother tongue, and respect every other language too” 🎉🎉🎉🎉 Happy International Mother Language Day ❤️

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