A short history and outline of the six UN language days

The United Nations is a global organisation. It connects nations from all over the world. The UN aims to create a safer, healthier, and better world. With 193 member states, there are many languages spoken at the UN. However, there are only six official languages of the UN. These are Arabic, Chinese, English, Russian, French and Spanish. Today, the annual UN Language Days celebrate each language.

The history of languages at the UN

The UN was formed in 1945, but the first session of the UN general assembly was in 1946. During this assembly, the rules of procedure concerning the official languages to use were adopted. However, the UN’s working languages were initially just French and English. By 1982, the additional four languages became the working languages of the UN. The UN Language Days initiative was launched in 2000.

Why these languages?

A large proportion of the global population speaks one of these languages. Arabic, for example, is the official, or co-official, language of 25 countries. English is the official, or co-official, language of 67 countries. Furthermore, 1.5 billion people speak English, and 1.3 billion people speak Chinese. However, many delegates speak other languages. They are supported through language services, such as translation and interpretation.

How official languages work in the UN

Delegates must use one of these languages in official communication. This is true for both written and verbal communication. As a result, many delegates depend on language services, such as interpreting. Correct translation and transcription of languages are essential for effective communication at the UN. In fact, all papers and transcription documents are available in all six languages. Language services are, therefore, key to UN activity.

The UN language days

UN Language days take place throughout the year. The aim of UN Language Days is to celebrate cultural diversity and multilingualism. The language days also serve to encourage equal use of each official language. Events that take place on UN Language Days both entertain and educate the whole UN family. Furthermore, the language days raise awareness of various traditions, histories, and cultures.

How you can use language services

Language services aren’t just helpful for the UN. These services can help many businesses and organisations improve their communications internally and with external entities. Some of the most globally used services include transcription, translation and interpreting. In many cases these services can be categorised as localisation. Simply put, taking content produced in one language and making it available to another audience in their local language. 

Why use Global Lingo language services

Professional language services come in many forms and some projects could require more than one service. But Global Lingo is not just a provider of language services such as might be used by the UN. We are problem solvers and project facilitators. 

Our experienced team can manage a multi-faceted project from start to finish pulling in the relevant services when required to make sure the job is done on time and on budget. For many of the companies we work with we are seen as an extension of their business, partnering with them to make sure their voice is heard across the globe in a relevant and consistent way. 

So, next time you need your content in any of the six UN official languages or in fact any of the over 150 languages we cover, you’ll know if your content is in safe hands.

Contact us today to see how we can help your business.

Looking for translation services?

Our global translation services help companies distribute content to other audiences across the world. Whether this is information in documents, web content, product or marketing campaigns, or audio-visual media, our team of experienced, industry-qualified translators offers an exceptional level of service.

Did you know?

Global Lingo has one of the largest pool of linguists in the industry. Everyone is a native speaker in the language they are translating into, and we can translate into and from 150+ languages. So, whatever your project, whatever the language, Global Lingo can help.

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