First Chinese Language Day at UN

Although Chinese language has been an official language of the United Nations from its inception, only yesterday, November 12, did it have its first official recognition at the first ever “Chinese Language Day” at the UN. However, in keeping with its historical roots, starting in 2011 it will be celebrated annually on April 20, the date traditionally associated with the invention of Chinese characters by Cangjie.
Chinese Language Day is part the newly initiated UN Language Days launched this year in February to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity and the equitable use of all six of its official working languages throughout the organization.
According to a Xinhua News account, the other five Language Days are Arabic: December 8, the date on which the United Nations General Assembly designated Arabic as the sixth official language of the United Nations in 1973; English: April 23, traditionally recognized as William Shakespeare’s birthday; French: March 20, International Day of Francophonie; Russian: June 6, the birthday of Alexander Pushkin, considered by many to be the greatest Russian poet; Spanish: October 12, to coincide with Spanish National Day.
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One response to “First Chinese Language Day at UN

  1. I am a Chinese language educator in Connecticut, USA. I should be very happy to see that the United Nations dedicated and celebrated the first Chinese Language Day on April 20th 2010 to celebrate the respect for the Chinese history. However, I need to remind all people that if UN doesn’t understand and clarify some important facts and history about the Chinese language; this special day will be eventually turned into the day that the world’s people celebrate the destruction of the “real” Chinese language and culture.

    I would like to add some comments in Mr. Kiyo Akasaka’s statement. Please be reminded that it is the Chinese “traditional/standard written” script (traditional characters) and Mandarin (standard spoken language) are designated as one of the official language of the UN from its very beginning. And, it is the Chinese “traditional/standard written” script, the world’s only surviving ancient written language that is still commonly used by the world; not the simplified script. And, it is the traditional Chinese characters that have been embedded with glorious beauties, rich meanings, ethical values and historical assents of the ancient Chinese people and one of six official languages of the UN world body.

    Please allow me to give you an example why simplified script somehow damages the Chinese people’s integrities and spirits: Chinese people, for thousands of years, call themselves, the descendents of dragons. In traditional/standard script: 龍 , we can see a dragon’s pictograph including dragon eye, mouth body and scales shown in this beautiful ancient old yet the most modern and fashionable character!) In simplified script: 龙 means transform/匕 from dog /犬!

    Now, UN and most American schools unfortunately have adopted the simplified Chinese, not the traditional script Mr. Akasaka mentioned. The simplified script and Pinyin have once been used as the tools to cut the core-relationship of Chinese people with their traditional roots. We need to understand that thousands of years’ literary, historic, military, scientific, philosophical, musical and art related articles, documents, classics have all been written and published in traditional Chinese script and most of them annotated in Zhuyin/BoPoMo symbols. However, since China’s “language reforms” most Chinese people in mainland China have been made illiterate from its original, ancient yet the most fashionable traditional Chinese script. It is wonderful to work harmoniously with China; however, we need to put more thoughts when the corporation comes to the language education. Do we want to do everything to generations who can not communicate with Chinese, Japanese and Korean intellects outside of mainland China and won’t understand anything Chinese written and published as few as fifty years ago?

    For more information please visit or

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