International Mother Language Day

Today is the UNESCO International Mother Language Day, a day to promote linguistic and cultural diversity.

We love language. As actors, words are our currency. With our delivery of them, they are the bones upon which many of our performances are made flesh. Simple words convey messages quickly – lyrical words paint pictures, evoke emotions.

As we are writing this in English, you can made a good guess that English is our Mother Language – and you’d be right. Or at least partly so. It’s our first language – but other languages spoken within Team Scary include Cornish, Welsh and BSL. And those languages shelter within them elements of our cultures.

The mass homogenisation of culture is – frankly – boring. If we all speak the same language, where is the thrill in finding out about hygge, cwtch, ya’aburnee, schadenfreude and fika? What does it tell us about a culture when the language has no words for left and right? (Clue – that they don’t centre humans – left and right change depending on where we are)

If you value the richness of cultures that we are fortunate, in the UK, to share, you can help sustain them. Find out – how many languages are spoken near you? What are they? When you next meet someone for whom English is a second (or more likely third or fourth) language, could you ask them to tell you a word or phrase that exists in the their language?

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