BENGALI, Gaelic, Arabic and more will be heard as minority communities raise their voices in a day-long celebration of languages.

Bhasha: the Glasgow Language Festival will bring together poetry, song, drama, short films and academic expertise at the Mitchell Library today.

The event is organised by the Bangladesh Association Glasgow (BAG), which calls it “our gift” to the city.

Speakers from Zimbabwe and China are amongst those set to celebrate the rich mix of languages – including British Sign Language – in Scotland’s biggest city.

Saif Khan of BAG said: “There are experiences you have in your own language that probably will never be able to be translated or vocalised in another. But we can still share and find communality.”

Global culture body UNESCO designated February 21 as International Mother Language Day in 1999.

That date was chosen due to the mass protests held on the same day in 1952 in then-East Pakistan, when Bengalis involved in the Language Movement took to the streets to demand recognition for their mother tongue, Bangla. Several people died in the protests.

Khan says remembering this and using Bangla is important to Scotland’s Bangladeshi community.

However, he says the multicultural nature of the country provides an opportunity to celebrate other languages too.

Khan, a GP, told The National: “We wanted to make this a broad platform with other communities involved. Scotland has been so welcoming to the people of different countries, including people from Bangladesh. We felt that should be given a voice.

“What we went through in Bangladesh with our language, many other nationalities have gone through in different ways.”

All sessions in tomorrow’s programme, including talks on bilingualism and teaching Arabic online from the Gaza Strip, are family friendly.

The event runs from 11am to 7pm. On the varied programme, Khan said: “We didn’t want it to be just another song and dance cultural festival. This is a celebration of language, which is much more than words.”