Earlier this year, we hosted a poster competition to create the official poster for UNESCO's 2009 International Mother Language Day. Greece designer Anna Notara Koutroumpaki's poster entitled Mother languages must live (pictured) was selected as the winning poster by UNESCO out of the 1,100 entries from 85 countries. Koutroumpaki won $3000 in prize money and the opportunity to attend UNESCO's International Mother Language Day celebrations in Paris on February 20.
Honoring the competition entrants at the reception attended by 300 guests, Ms Françoise Rivière, Assistant Director-General for Culture of UNESCO, honored the competition, saying: The miracle about this endeavor is that design has proved to be as diverse and manifold as languages are. The very same idea was translated, interpreted, coined by each of the many designers from around the world who took part in the competition in very different ways. I would have loved to make a poster of all draft posters we received, just to display the creativity that the issue of languages sparked among designers. We had to chose one, and fortunately enough, the winner is in itself a celebration of diversity and creativity. But you can visit the site of DESIGN 21: Social Design Network to view all of them. Ms Anna Notara Koutroumpaki was able to make her poster “readable” from the vantage point of all cultures, and this was part of the reasons why her project was chosen, since it conveys the two-fold message of the diversity of societies on the one hand, but of unity of mankind on the other hand."
Ms Rivière presented Koutroumpaki with a medal and afterwards Koutroumpaki took the stage and responded with a few words of her own: "Let me firstly express my warm thanks to UNESCO and especially to DESIGN 21 and Felissimo for offering me the opportunity to expose my work and for this wonderful honor. I feel grateful that I participated in this competition to transform your message into a poster...The main subject of the competition could be summarized as the salvation of mother language. This message is conveyed by UNESCO and the UN το all people on earth. My target was to create something understandable by all, to every individual, no matter of age, sex, race and nationality. Tradition and customs, colors, heritage, sounds and history are combined together to create the identity of every country or nationality. Native language is the essential means of passing all these cultural aspects from the past generation to the next. There are not minor and major languages. All languages contain words to express human feelings and moral principles. All languages, irrespective of cultural background, contain words to describe pain, hanger, death, birth, God. All languages create a precious kaleidoscope with sounds, signs, nods and pauses. All languages must equally survive from the danger of extinction, due to the globalized economy which demands flat cultural levels, urbanism, and uniform mass media, in order to penetrate a very large and uniform market, with minimum cost. The future can be ensured in every local culture, art and science, with the salvation of mother language for the peaceful coexistence among all nations of the world. So, mother languages must live."