Happy International Mother Language Day! It's one of those UNESCO/UN labelled events, like last year's International Year of Quinoa, that has a noble goal but very little in the way of actual recognition. International Mother Language Day has been around since 2000 and is aimed at promoting linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism -- and it is especially important in Australia, where our indigenous languages are under threat.
My home is in the Northern Territory, where English is spoken in proportionally fewer households than any other state or territory in Australia. I love the linguistic diversity here in my hometown of Katherine. Just today, a Warlpiri woman I know asked me if I was well in her language, and I mumbled back the two words I know in Warlpiri. There’s the popular lunch spot run by an Australian-Croatian family, whose matriarch runs the kitchen speaking mostly Croatian. And I smile when one of the girls who makes me coffee at my regular cafe is visited by her family, who bundle in and speak to her in Kunwinjku.