February 21: International Mother Language Day. Andrea Moro interviewed by Radio Capital
Wed, 21/02/2024

On the occasion of International Mother Language Day, celebrated on February 21st every year, the renowned linguist, neuroscientist, writer, and full professor of General Linguistics at the IUSS School of Pavia, Andrea Moro, was interviewed by Radio Capital. The occasion provided an opportunity to explore the importance and role of mother languages in the global context.

During the interview, Moro highlighted an interesting point: most people speak two languages, the official language of their country and their own dialect. He reflected on the common saying that distinguishes a language from a dialect, noting that a language is essentially a dialect "with an army and a navy." This touch of humor masks a profound truth about linguistic diversity.

Professor Moro emphasized the intrinsic value of dialects and mother languages as a cultural and neurobiological driving force. He pointed out that speaking multiple languages not only enriches culturally but can also offer a kind of neurobiological protection, delaying the onset of dementia symptoms. "It acts as a kind of cognitive reserve that protects you. So, mother languages are also protective languages," Professor Moro stressed.

Reflecting on the evolution of languages and linguistic diversity, Moro shared his view that the lack of universal understanding, embodied in the myth of Babel, might have been an evolutionary advantage rather than a condemnation. He suggested that linguistic diversity is a gift that has changed the rules of evolutionary play.

The interview also addressed the history and uniqueness of the Italian language, which, according to Moro, represents a unique fabric of variety and culture in the global linguistic landscape. He emphasized how mother languages are fundamental to cultural identities and human interconnection.

Finally, Moro explored the challenges that mother languages face in the era of globalization and underscored the importance of actively promoting and protecting linguistic diversity through policies safeguarding and promoting minority languages.

In conclusion, International Mother Language Day offers an important opportunity for reflection on the richness of mother languages and linguistic diversity as an essential element of cultural wealth and social cohesion globally.

Listen to the interview