Sunday, August 31, 2014

Quiz with Chamara Sumanapala. Part 14: International Mother Language Day

We all have a mother language. It is the language we learn from a very small age, from our parents. On many occasions, mother languages are inherited from the culture and the community we belong to. If the parents belong to one community, the children will inherit the mother language of that community. However, if the parents are of two communities, the children may learn to use the mother languages of both parents. Such children could be considered as bilingual.

In 1999, United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared an International Mother Language Day to highlight the importance of addressing issues related to linguistic diversity, multilingualism and respect for all languages. From the year 2000, February 21 has been celebrated as the International Mother Language Day.

1. February 21 was chosen as the International Mother Language Day to commemorate a police shooting in Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. At that time, present day Bangladesh was part of Pakistan and was known as Eastern Pakistan. Pakistani politics was controlled by the West Pakistanis and the Bengali language was not recognized as an official language. Bengali students in Dhaka protested and many died when police shot at them. In which year did this event took place?

2. Although the United Nations Charter does not mention any official language, the Charter was first issued in five languages; Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. Therefore, these languages were recognized as the official languages of the UN. Since then, only one more language has been added to the list. Recognized as an official language by the UN in 1973, this language is spoken by the majority of the inhabitants in 25 countries. What is this language?

3. The Constitution of India recognized 18 languages. Therefore, all these can be considered as official languages. But many of these languages are considered official only in a particular region; e.g. Assamese in Assam. Which African country has declared 11 languages to be official languages, thereby becoming the country with the largest number of official languages?

4. The largest number of languages spoken in one country is 820. Its population is just over 7 million. Many regions in the country are mountainous and dense rainforests cover a substantial part of the area. There are many islands as well. Native tribes live in the middle of these jungles and in some islands and they have their own languages. Although abundant in natural resources, the country is poor. During the Second World War, this country saw intense battles. What is this country?

5. This small Pacific Island nation is the country with the largest language density. (Smallest population per one language). It has 82 islands out of which 65 are inhabited. The population is 225000. There are three official languages; English, French and Bislama, a language derived from English. However, there are at least 112 native languages. This means that on average, there are only about 2000 people per one language. This country is a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. What is this country?

Answers for Quiz 13: Colonel Henry Steel Olcott

1. Orange
2. General Ambrose Burnside
3. JM Peebles
4. Wijayananda Viharaya, Waliwatta, Galle
5. 1885

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