Saturday, December 10 , 2016, 7:42 am | Fog 54º

 
 
 
 

UCSB to Host International Mother Language Day Conference

Event commemorates the Bengali Language Movement and honors the university students who were killed defending their mother tongue

Sixty-two years ago, a group of students from the University of Dhaka in Bangladesh (then known as East Pakistan) were killed as they participated in the Bengali Language Movement protests. The student activists were seeking to have Bengali recognized as an official language of Pakistan.

In their memory, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) declared Feb. 21 — the date of the protests — as International Mother Language Day.

The Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UC Santa Barbara will commemorate the event with an afternoon conference beginning at 1 p.m. Thursday in the McCune Conference Room, 6020 Humanities and Social Sciences Building, at UCSB. It is free and open to the public.

The conference, which brings together a diverse group of scholars, seeks to promote multilingualism, awareness of the plight of language minorities, tolerance toward different cultures and the preservation of linguistic diversity. It will focus on “Language and Identity,” examining the topic from linguistic as well as legal perspectives.

“Worldwide, it is a day to encourage people to continue using their mother language, while learning and using more than one language, to unveil policies in support of language learning and cultural diversity,” said Viola Miglio, associate professor of linguistics at UCSB, and the Barandiarán Chair of Basque Studies in the Spanish and Portuguese department. “Spanish in California — and in the U.S. in general — suffers the stigma of an immigrant language, and many problems ensue from this lack of status and prestige.”

Celebrating Mother Language Day has become something of a tradition for the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at UCSB (this marks the fourth year). The department has a special interest in establishing a more positive image for Spanish, which according to Miglio should be considered a historical language of California.

“We believe that promoting multilingualism and multiculturalism fosters tolerance and understanding toward groups with other languages and traditions, and is, therefore, a beneficial service for society at large that language and literature departments such as ours give to the community,” she said.

Among the conference participants are Carole Chaski, a computational linguist and executive director of the Institute for Linguistic Evidence, who will examine models of language for forensic identity; and María Carriera of California State University-Long Beach, whose research focuses on heritage languages and on identity, resilience and heritage language development and maintenance.

Reader Comments

Noozhawk's intent is not to limit the discussion of our stories but to elevate it. Comments should be relevant and must be free of profanity and abusive language and attacks.

By posting on Noozhawk, you:

» Agree to be respectful. Noozhawk encourages intelligent and impassioned discussion and debate, but now has a zero-tolerance policy for those who cannot express their opinions in a civil manner.

» Agree not to use Noozhawk’s forums for personal attacks. This includes any sort of personal attack — including, but not limited to, the people in our stories, the journalists who create these stories, fellow readers who comment on our stories, or anyone else in our community.

» Agree not to post on Noozhawk any comments that can be construed as libelous, defamatory, obscene, profane, vulgar, harmful, threatening, tortious, harassing, abusive, hateful, sexist, racially or ethnically objectionable, or that are invasive of another’s privacy.

» Agree not to post in a manner than emulates, purports or pretends to be someone else. Under no circumstances are readers posting to Noozhawk to knowingly use the name or identity of another person, whether that is another reader on this site, a public figure, celebrity, elected official or fictitious character. This also means readers will not knowingly give out any personal information of other members of these forums.

» Agree not to solicit others. You agree you will not use Noozhawk’s forums to solicit and/or advertise for personal blogs and websites, without Noozhawk’s express written approval.

Noozhawk’s management and editors, in our sole discretion, retain the right to remove individual posts or to revoke the access privileges of anyone who we believe has violated any of these terms or any other term of this agreement; however, we are under no obligation to do so.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made through PayPal below, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments.

Thank you for your vital support.



Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >