Indigenous Heritage on the International Mother Language Day


International Mother Language Day, established by the UNESCO General Conference on November 17, 1999, and observed annually on February 21, aims to promote linguistic and cultural diversity as well as multilingualism. This day underscores the pivotal role of languages in fostering inclusion and achieving sustainable development. Multilingual education, starting with instruction in one’s native language and gradually introducing other languages, bridges the gap between home and school, ensuring educational access for diverse population groups.

In a world with over 7 thousand languages, 45 percent of which are endangered, maintaining multilingualism remains a challenging. In this context, the Veps language is a good example, which belongs to the Balto-Finnic branch of the Uralic language family. Its closest sister languages include Karelian, Finnish, and Estonian. Veps is spoken in the Republic of Karelia, Leningrad Oblast, and Vologda Oblast in Russia. The current situation highlights the threat of Veps language extinction, primarily due to its aging speakers.

Efforts to preserve endangered languages are integral to safeguarding cultural heritage and diversity. The «SanuLugeKirjuta» project by the Veps Cultural Society (Republic of Karelia) represents a promising approach, digitizing data and promoting Veps language awareness. The project’s course enables independent learning of Veps basics, including vocabulary, grammar, and writing, emphasizing accessibility for a wide audience regardless of their location.

International Mother Language Day serves as a reminder of the need to uphold and promote linguistic diversity. Let us mark this day by actively reading and discussing works in our native languages, demonstrating respect for the linguistic heritage of various cultures.

How to participate in the «SanuLugeKirjuta» project?

1) Register here

2) After registration, complete a Google Form