19 February 2010

Department of Public Information to Launch ‘Language Days at the United Nations’

On the occasion of International Mother Language Day on 21 February, the Department of Public Information is announcing the launch of “Language Days at the United Nations”, a new initiative which seeks to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity.

Under the initiative, United Nations duty stations around the world will be encouraged to celebrate six “Language Days” dedicated to the six United Nations official languages, Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.  Language Days at the United Nations will strive to entertain as well as inform, by raising awareness of the history, culture and achievements of each of the six official languages among the United Nations community.  “We hope that this initiative will encourage the UN family to celebrate linguistic diversity and learn more about the importance of cross-cultural communication,” said the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Kiyo Akasaka.


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 Language Day will be 8 December, the date on which the United Nations General Assembly designated Arabic as the sixth official language of the United Nations in 1973; English Language Day will be 23 April, traditionally recognized as William Shakespeare’s birthday; French Language Day will be marked on 20 March, International Day of Francophonie; Russian Language Day will be 6 June, the birthday of Aleksandr Pushkin, considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet; Spanish Language Day will be celebrated on 12 October, traditionally observed in Spanish speaking countries as Dia de la Hispanidad; and the date for Chinese Language Day is yet to be determined.


Each of the six official languages will be celebrated by the United Nations on its designated day in new and creative ways, including with unique information materials and cultural events showcasing each language through music, art, poetry, food, theatre and film screenings.


For further information, please contact Einat Temkin, Outreach Division, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  +1 917 367 5841, or by e‑mail:


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For information media. Not an official record.