UN on International Day of the Spanish Language

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Geneva, 25 April 2022 (TDI): On 23 April, the United Nations declared official the Spanish Language Day. The reason for the UN to declare it official was to promote conscience among the staff of the organization; and the world in general of the history, culture, and the use of Spanish as an official language.

The UN declared it on that day because it is the Anniversary of the death of Miguel de Cervantes. Cervantes was one of the greatest writers in Spanish, and the date also is the Anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare. Shakespeare was the greatest English writer and the reason why both languages share the day.

INCREASING INTEREST OF SPANISH SPEAKERS IN UNITED NATIONS

According to the UN; the Organization always looks for creative ways to promote the official languages in their work. The Secretariat of the UN uses formal and informal ways to reach both its staff and the general population.

Furthermore, those ways that the UN uses go from interpretation and translation services; to language and communication programs for their employees; to external communication services (social media, news).

The UN also has another tool. That tool is the Group of Friends of the Spanish Language. The 20 Spanish-speaking members created this group in 2013. Moreover, the objective of this group is to coordinate and make activities to promote the use and diffusion of the Spanish in the work of the UN.

The countries created the group due to the increasing interest of the Spanish-speaking population in the mission of the UN. That interest caused an impact on the activities of the UN through consults, interactions; and the demands of the Spanish-speaking population.

MULTILINGUALISM: A WAY TO REACH THE HEART

According to the UN; Nelson Mandela had an affirmation regarding multilingualism. Mandela affirmed that if you speak to someone in a language that he or she understands, the message will reach their head; but if you talk to that person in their natural language, the message will arrive in their hearts.

This message has been extremely important for the UN. By recognizing the Spanish, the Arab, the Chinese, the Russian, the French, and the English as official languages; the UN placed its bet on multilingualism.

On the other side; the General Secretariat chose French and English as the official languages for their work; which remains until today.

COORDINATION FOR MULTILINGUALISM AND OTHER IMPORTANT DATES

In 1999, the Organization understood that it was necessary to have a coordinator to oversee issues related to multilingualism; for one objective. That objective was to propose strategies to promote the use of several languages in the UN; to expand the ideals of the Organization.

Moreover, the UN created the Deputy Secretary-General of the Department of Global Communications to handle that responsibility. The objective of this Deputy is to promote greater knowledge; and also a better understanding of the work of the UN.

The UN promotes its work through several platforms. Those platforms are TV, radio, web, press conferences; and also alliances with different groups.

In 2010; the UN decided to celebrate its cultural diversity by establishing the “Day of the Languages” for its six official languages. To celebrate each official language; the UN chose different days. The Organization chose them due to the historical importance or symbols for each language.

A year later, the UN proposed multilingualism for one purpose. The Organization wanted to use it as a way of promoting, protecting, and preserving the languages and cultures. Furthermore, to do this; it was also necessary to promote respect for cultural diversity, and intercultural dialogues.

Finally; it was also important to promote wider and more effective participation of everyone inside the UN.

GENERAL INFORMATION

My birth language as the author of the report is Spanish. According to Statista, in 2022; there are 543 million people that speak Spanish; out of those 460 million who are native. This means that their first language is Spanish, and they represent 6% of the world’s population.

Countries of Spanish native speakers and those that speak spanish but are not native
Countries of Spanish native speakers and those that speak Spanish but are not native

Moreover, Spanish is the fourth-strongest language below English, Chinese and French. Currently, 22 countries speak Spanish in the world. Moreover, those are Spain; Mexico; Argentina; Bolivia, Chile; Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras; and also Nicaragua.

Furthermore; the additional countries with Spanish as official language are Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico; Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Venezuela; and also Equatorial Guinea.

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