March 27, 2019, is the first International Day of Multilingualism. Founded by a network of language professionals, including Dr. Thomas H. Bak of the University of Edinburgh—clinical research fellow in the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences and Co-Director of Bilingualism Matters, long linked in this blog’s Bookmarks—the day celebrates “the multi-layered, multi-lingual way that humans actually use languages in our everyday lives.” The date commemorates the date on the Rosetta Stone, which corresponds to March 27, 196 BC.
The official website states,
Everyone is a linguist. People talk. It’s just what humans do. As a species we have evolved over thousands of years and adapted to speaking more than one language very easily.
But somehow the dialogue has changed over the last couple of centuries and speaking more than one language is commonly perceived as irregular, or special, when in fact more than two thirds of the world’s population speak two or more languages in their daily life. We’re not talking about the incredible polyglots who speak ten or more languages. Just the day-to-day use of language that is as much as part of our normal day as, say, enjoying a cup of coffee.
Ways to take part are listed here and include a hashtag: #multilingualisnormal
The hashtag was shared with ISB HS students in their email bulletin today.
Happy International Day of Multilingualism!