United Nations (UN)’s French Language Day is annually observed across the globe on March 20 to celebrate French multilingualism and cultural diversity. The day is part of an initiative to raise awareness and respect for the history, culture and achievements of each of the six official languages of the United Nations.
- The day is recognised by the International Organization of La Francophonie (OIF) as the International Day of La Francophonie.
UN French Language Day 2023 was observed on 20th March 2023.
The International Day of La Francophonie celebrations in 2023 were marked under the theme “321 million French speakers, billions of cultural content” by the OIF.
Why March 20?
March 20 marks the creation of the Agency for Cultural and Technical Cooperation (ACCT) on 20th March 1970 in Niamey, Niger, which was later renamed the International Organization of La Francophonie (Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie- OIF).
i. On 21st February 2010, on the occasion of International Mother Language Day, the UN Department of Public Information (DPI) announced the launch of “UN Language Days”, a new initiative that aims to celebrate multilingualism and cultural diversity.
ii. The UN observes 6 Languages Days annually dedicated to the 6 official languages of the UN, which are Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
- The dates of these Languages Days were chosen by the Department of Public Information based on their symbolic character.
Other UN Languages Days:
- Arabic Language Day- December 8
- English Language Day- April 23
- Russian Language Day- June 6
- Spanish Language Day- October 12
- Chinese Language Day- April 20
i. The French language comes from Vulgar Latin of the Roman Empire.
ii. France, formerly known as Gaul, was dominated by the Romans in the first and second centuries BC. Gaulish, a Celtic language spoken at the time, was eventually replaced by Latin by the Romans.
iii. Germanic tribes invaded Gaul in the fifth century and were also Romanized.
- As a result of these outside influences, Celtic, Germanic, and most significantly Latin are the languages that gave rise to modern French.
French in UN:
On 1st February 1946, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted resolution 2 (I) & established Chinese, French, English, Russian, and Spanish as official languages, and English and French as working languages.
Click here to know more about the UN’s Official Languages
i. French is one of the most widely spoken languages across the globe. The number of French speakers in the world is estimated at 321 million.
ii. It is the 2nd most commonly learned language after English and is an official language in 29 countries.
- French is also the only language, alongside English, that is spoken on all five continents.
iii. French is the 5th most spoken language in the world after Chinese, English, Hindi, and Spanish and is the 4th language of the internet.
i. French Language Day was celebrated on 20 March 2023 at UN Geneva, Switzerland.
ii. On this occasion, the Center for Learning and Multilingualism and the Division of Conference Management is hosting a roundtable discussion on the subject of glottophobia(discrimination based on language) with guest experts.
iii. The award ceremony for the traditional writing contest for 2023 was on the theme “Dis-moi dix mots à tous les temps”.
About the United Nations (UN):
Secretary-General- António Guterres
Headquarters- New York, USA