UN marks English Day as part of celebration of its six official languages

13:04, April 24, 2010      

Email | Print | Subscribe | Comments | Forum 

The United Nations marked the anniversary here on Friday of William Shakespeare's death by celebrating English Language Day, the second in a series this year to raise awareness and respect for the history, culture and achievements of each of the six official languages of the world body.

"It was Shakespeare who coined the phrase 'a feast of languages, '" UN Under-secretary-general for Communications and Public Information and Multilingualism Coordinator Kiyo Akasaka told an awards ceremony at the UN Headquarters in New York for the St. Jerome Translation Contest.

"It is a phrase we can adapt to our world today, and to the United Nations itself. Multilingualism clearly reflects the bounty of ideas, heritage and spirit that constitutes this feast," he said.

Last month the UN marked French Language Day with awards in the St. Jerome contest for those translating into French, and similar celebrations will be held throughout the year for the four other official languages on a day of particular relevance to each -- Arabic, Chinese, Russian and Spanish. St. Jerome was a mediaeval scholar behind the Latin translation of the Bible.

Akasaka noted that English has become the lingua franca in many parts of the world, after developing under the influence of Old Norse, French, Latin, and Greek and then absorbing words from many other languages. "The English language has traveled widely, borrowed a lot, and given even more," he said.

"As under-secretary-general for communications and public information, I have a great appreciation of the work that our translators, interpreters, editors and experts in terminology undertake across the world. Initiatives such as the St. Jerome's Translation Contest allow us to honor those who, through their study and skill, are instrumental in guaranteeing that the work of this Organization is communicated in the six official languages, and beyond," he said.

The March 20 celebration of French coincided with the 40th anniversary of the International Organization of La Francophonie, a group whose members share a common tongue, as well as the humanist values promoted by the French language.

Russian Language Day will be marked on June 6, the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin, recognized as the father of Russian literature; the Day for Spanish will be on Oct. 12, Spain's National Day; and Arabic Language Day will be celebrated on Dec. 18, the day in 1973 when the General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language.

A date marking Chinese Language Day has yet to be approved.

Source: Xinhua

(Editor:祁澍文)

  • Do you have anything to say?

双语词典
dictionary

  
Special Coverage
  • Premier Wen Jiabao visits Hungary, Britain, Germany
  • From drought to floods
Major headlines
Editor's Pick
  • On Sept. 26, a resident passes by a flower terrace decorated for the coming National Day. (Xinhua/Hang Xingwei)
  • The photo, taken on Sept. 26, shows the SWAT team ready for the joint exercise. (Xinhua/Wangkai)
  • Two metro trains in Shanghai collided Tuesday afternoon, and an identified number of passengers were injured in the accident, the Shanghai-based eastday.com reported. Equipment failures were believed to have caused the crash on the Line 10 subway, Xinhua quoted local subway operator as saying.
  • An employee at a gold store in Yiwu, located in east China's Zhejiang province, shows gold jewelry on Monday.(Xinhua/Zhang Jiancheng)
  • Tourists ride camels near China's largest desert lake Hongjiannao in Yulin, north China's Shaanx Province, Sept. 24, 2011. Hongjiannao is shrinking as a result of climate change and human activities, and may vanish in a few decades. Its lake area, which measured more than 6,700 hectares in 1996, has shrunk to 4,180 hectares. Its water level is declining by 20-30 centimeters annually and its water PH value has risen to 9.0-9.42 from 7.4-7.8. (Xinhua/Liu Yu)
  • Actors perform royal dance at the Gyeongbok Palace in Seoul, Sept. 27, 2011. A ceremony commemorating the 38th South Korea Sightseeing Day was held in Gyeongbok Palace on Tuesday. (Xinhua/He Lulu)
Hot Forum Discussion