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About the Chinese Language Day - 19 April 2012

Chinese will be the language celebrated on 19 April for the second UN Language Day in 2012. All UN staff and diplomats in New York are encouraged to take some time to learn more about the language and Chinese resources at the UN by attending special events.

The date for the Chinese day was selected from Guyu ("Rain of Millet"), which is the 6th of 24 solar terms in the traditional East Asian calendars, to pay tribute to Cangjie. Cangjie is a very important figure in ancient China, claimed to be an official historian of the Yellow Emperor and the inventor of Chinese characters. Legend has it that he had four eyes and four pupils, and that when he invented the characters, the deities and ghosts cried and the sky rained millet. From then on, Chinese people celebrate the day Guyu in honour of Cangjie. In the Gregorian calendar, it usually begins around April 20.

Scheduled events

A Celebrations Ceremony will be held from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in the General Assembly Delegate Lounge. Remarks will be made by Ambassador LI Baodong, Permanent Representative of the China to the UN, and the representative of Department of Public Information of the United Nations. A reception will follow the ceremony.

2012 United Nations Chinese Language Day Programme

Time Venue Activity
3:15-3:30pm DC2 200A

Fan Dance, Ode to the Future of Beijing
Cheongsam Dance, Beautiful Taihu Lake
Violin Solo, The Spring of Xinjiang

3:40-4:25pm

Presentation by Mr. Gao Shiqi,“Chinese Culture as Defined by Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism

4:30-5:15pm Lecture and demonstration by Nvshu (women script) delegation from Hunan Province
6:00-8:00pm General Assembly Delegate Lounge

2012 UN Chinese Language Day Ceremony and Reception (Activities will include performance by Chinese Health Qigong Association, speeches, art exhibition and more)

 

Some UN offices that work with Chinese language

Behind the un.org Chinese website, is a team composed of two website officers, two website assistants, and 1-2 consultants dedicated to special projects funded by substantive offices. This unit conducts research, creates and maintains UN official websites in Chinese. They keep searching for new and effective media to reach their Chinese-speaking audience. The unit also serves as the focal point for the six language units as the content expert of certain UN issues such as peace and security, to coordinate web projects in these areas with relevant offices. Ms. CHEN, Fang, the Chief of Chinese Website Unit, called for more understanding and support from all UN offices to multilingual websites.

Chinese Radio Unit is composed of 4 producers and 2 production assistants. The producers are responsible for interviewing, drafting and broadcasting radio stories, and the production assistants take care of sound editing, coordination and posting radio stories on the web. This team produces on a daily basis about 10 short news stories, 1-2 in-depth reports on the most important topics of the day, and one feature story of general human interest. Mr. LI, Maoqi, the Chief of Chinese Radio Unit, said, “a typical day of a radio producer starts from the moment you wake up. On my way to work, I browse world news, UN conferences and events, particularly those related to Asia and China, and follow the latest development of the news events of yesterday and plan for what is going to happen tomorrow and the day after tomorrow...”

Different from the two units above, the Chinese language programme targets UN non-Chinese-staff. The number of registered students per term doubled from some 100 7-8 years ago to 200 today, taught by 6 Chinese teachers. A language study programme with Nanjing University has received some 300 students over the past 7 years. Also, some Chinese interns volunteer to offer one-on-one sessions to help staff students. Elizabeth Shirokova from DPI, a Chinese language student, was proud to use her Chinese in her work by adapting an English poster into Chinese for the UN Pavillion at the Shanghai WorldExpo. Mr. HO, Yong, the Chinese Language Coordinator, expressed, “when I see my students starting from zero, and later speaking Chinese fluently, I feel a great sense of success.”

The UNTERM team is composed of 6 terminologists and 3 assistants, providing UN nomenclature and technical terminology in the six official languages to UN staff and others, ensuring consistency and standardization. UNTERM contains some 90,000 entries, and offers, among other languages, rich Chinese content, including background information, cross-reference and sources. The Chinese entries are created and maintained by the Chinese team led by Mr. JIA, Yunqi, the Chinese Terminologist. “A terminologist must be a generalist rather than a specialist, a Jack of all trades, so to speak,” said Mr. Jia, “because clients may bring up queries on all subject matters.”

Previous observances

About Language Days at the UN

Language Days at the UN seek to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization.

Under the initiative, United Nations Headquarters – and hopefully in the future duty stations around the world – will celebrate six days dedicated to each UN official language:

The dates for the Language Days were selected by the Department of Public Information for their symbolic or historic significance in connection with each language.

  • Arabic (18 December - General Assembly designates Arabic as the sixth official language of the United Nations in 1973)
  • Chinese (20 April – Invention of Chinese characters by Cangjie)
  • English (23 April – William Shakespeare's birthday)
  • French (20 March – International Day of Francophonie)
  • Russian (6 June – Alexander Pushkin's birthday)
  • Spanish (12 October – Dia de la Hispanidad)