Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Books are the pillars

Books are a force for peace and development that must be placed in the hands of all. They are also crucial tools for expression that help to enrich languages, while recording their changes over time. In this age of new technologies, books remain precious instruments, easy to handle, sturdy and practical for sharing knowledge, mutual understanding and opening the world to all. Books are the pillars of knowledge societies and essential for promoting freedom of expression and education for all.

Message for International Mother Language Day 2013, Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.

International Mother Language Day has come and gone, and sad to say, I didn't even know it was a day for celebration until days too late. This year's theme: Books for mother tongue education.

Coincidentally, experts of my own mother language marked the day by launching a campaign to preserve diacritical marks, of which there are several in Polish. It's a bit of a backlash against the laziness engendered by texting, but there's a bit more to it than curmudgeonly nit-picking.

The campaign — Język polski jest ą-ę — called on media outlets to do without diacritical marks for a day, and several artists have produced diacriticless pop music, with somewhat ridiculous results.

I'll have to do my bit to read something (maybe Tulli, or Myśliwski) in my mother tongue this year (it's been downhill for me pretty much since age 5), but preferably with diacritical marks intact.

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