February 21 was selected by UNESCO as International Mother Language Day in 1999. The main goal of this yearly event is to bring public awareness to the problem of preserving linguistic and cultural diversity.
According to UNESCO, 43% of the 6 thousand languages in the world are in danger of extinction. On average, a language disappears from the face of the Earth every two weeks — often taking its cultural heritage with it.
A language is considered dead when it has no more living native speakers. Examples of dead languages include Coptic, Gothic, Ottoman, and Sumerian. Such languages occasionally maintain limited use — such as Latin, which is presently used in education, medicine and by Catholic clergy. In rare cases dead languages can be "resurrected," like Hebrew.
In 2010 UNESCO released the Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger of Disappearing. The latest version of the Atlas includes around 2500 languages. Every language is assigned its own status showing the level of danger it’s in: from vulnerable to extinct.
This year, International Mother Language Day is held under the theme “Indigenous languages matter for sustainable development, peace building and reconciliation”.