You are here

20 April : Chinese Language Day

In 2010, the United Nations announced the launch of UN Chinese Language Day to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity as well as to promote equal use of the UN’s six official languages. These six languages are English, French, Russian, Chinese, Arabic and Spanish.

The idea behind this initiative is for the UN to ensure successful balance between the organisation’s official languages in international relations. Indeed, since 1946, the UN has supported and promoted the six official languages, its objectives and actions in the broadest possible way to the public at large.

The date of this event was chosen in honour of Cangjie, a legendary figure who is said to have invented Chinese characters about 5,000 years ago. Chinese is one of the oldest languages on the planet. Learning how to write Chinese is a challenge not only for people whose mother tongue is not Chinese but also for those who speak Chinese as their mother tongue. There are more than 80,000 Chinese characters. Between 3,000 and 5,000 of them are commonly used and each one recounts a story. Learning to write Chinese characters can take a whole lifetime!