February 21 is International Mother Language Day declared by UNESCO in 1999. This special date is meant to promote awareness of multilingualism, as well as cultural and linguistic diversity. Hashtags: #imld15, #dilm15, #LenguaMaterna
As a native American English language speaker, I am confused when I see the funny squiggles over vowels in foreign words. My fingers hesitate on the keyboard, not sure how that particular squiggle on the keyboard. How do I type this? And if I remember where the tildes go in ‘Díaz González’ will the letters work with my favorite font?
Willful ignorance won’t do in an age of crowdsourcing AND crowd complaining There is a difference between Popocatépetl and Popocatepetl, my Mexican friends tell me. Good to know. I just wish I could convince them to join the Planeta Wiki and edit directly.
Mind you, I have no idea how to pronounce pōhutukawa but I certainly want to visit the Six if I get the chance to travel to Auckland. This is the kind of dancing instruction Vonnegut suggested. New Zealand hosts an annual Māori Language Week (July 27 – August 2 in 2015). Imagine if we celebrated the Paiute or Navajo languages this way!
My writing and pronunciation can only improve with suggestions from Ayuuk, Māori, Navajo, Sámi and Zapotec friends. I do not dream of becoming a perfect polyglot, but I would like to make sure that what I write and wiki about is spelled in the way that bolsters local efforts.
For Mother Language Day. I’m going to retweet friends who tweet in their native language. I am going to shout out thanks to my friends at Oaxaca’s Pochote Market for their language lessons. Honestly, I have never had so much fun at a market than by learning how to say Kausi u ní cutagwinu (Good afternoon in Fidel’s Mixtec).
Ayuuk friends Engraciela and Rodrigo from Santa María Ocotepec have a saying — Oy ku ti minta jats ëëts xku’ix (your visit honors us). I think we honor them by learning how to write and pronounce ‘Oy ku ti minta jats ëëts xku’ix.’ Even if we as visitors get it wrong, we show our respect for the language by the attempt and by acknowledging the wisdom these thoughts convey.