What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.William Shakespeare, "Romeo and Juliet"
Celebrating the English language at the UN
English Language Day at the UN is celebrated on 23 April, the date traditionally observed as both the birthday and date of death of William Shakespeare. The Day is the result of a 2010 initiative by the Department of Global Communications, establishing language days for each of the Organization's six official languages. The purpose of the UN's language days is to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of all six official languages throughout the Organization.
Under the initiative, UN duty stations around the world celebrate six separate days, each dedicated to one of the Organization's six official languages.
The days are as follows:
- Arabic (18 December)
- Chinese (20 April)
- English (23 April)
- French (20 March)
- Russian (6 June)
- Spanish (23 April)
Language Days at the UN aim to entertain as well as inform, with the goal of increasing awareness and respect for the history, culture and achievements of each of the six working languages among the UN community.
Multilingualism and the UN
An essential factor in harmonious communication among peoples, multilingualism is of particular importance to the United Nations. By promoting tolerance, multilingualism ensures effective and increased participation of all in the Organization’s work, as well as greater effectiveness, better outcomes and more involvement.
The balance among the six official languages has been an ongoing concern of the Secretary-General. Numerous activities have been undertaken, from 1946 to the present, to promote the use of the official languages to ensure that the United Nations, its goals and actions are understood by the widest possible public.
In its resolution 54/64 of 6 December 1999, the General Assembly invited the appointment of a senior Secretariat official to serve as coordinator of questions relating to multilingualism.
The English Language Programme
The English Language Programme (ELP) offers regular core English courses (levels one through eight), which are designed to improve general English language proficiency, as well as communication courses and special courses to meet both the work-related needs and cultural interests of members of the United Nations community.
- Coordination of multilingualism
- United Nations Editorial Manual
- United Nations Multilingual Terminology Database (UNTERM)
- Competitive examinations for language professionals
- Language Learning at the UN
- Online language learning at the UN
- Language proficiency examination
- Dag Hammarskjöld Library
- UNOG Library Research Guide on Multilingualism
- UN Digital Library
- UN Social Media accounts #EnglishLanguageDay