It is through language that we communicate with the world, define our identity, express our history and culture, learn, defend our human rights and participate in all aspects of society, to name but a few.
Through language, people preserve their community’s history, customs and traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking, meaning and expression. They also use it to construct their future. Language is pivotal in the areas of human rights protection, good governance, peace building, reconciliation, and sustainable development.
A person’s right to use his or her chosen language is a prerequisite for freedom of thought, opinion and expression, access to education and information, employment, building inclusive societies, and other values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Many of us take it for granted that we can conduct our lives in our home languages without any constraints or prejudice. But this is not the case for everyone.
It is for this reason and others that the United Nations chose to dedicate a whole year to indigenous languages, to encourage urgent action to speak, revitalise and promote them.