26 September 2005

European Day of Languages

Today, 26th September, happens to be the European Day of Languages, an annual event designed to raise awareness of multilingual issues in Europe. Or, as the official EU website Europa puts it:

The European Day of Languages is an established annual event, born out of the enthusiasm with which it was celebrated in 2001 (the European Year of Languages) and the need to continue to develop language capability across Europe.

The European Day of Languages aims to draw the public's attention to the importance of language learning, raise awareness of all the languages spoken in Europe and encourage lifelong language learning Hundreds of activities celebrating language diversity and promoting language learning are being held throughout Europe on 26 September. The Day also provides an opportunity to continue to strengthen partnerships developed during the Year at local, regional, national and international levels.
[Source: Europa (English); Europa (Dutch) - go on, you know you want to! It is European Day of Languages after all]

If you are not already one of the 53% of Europeans [or, pdf in French] who say they can speak another European language, or one of the 26% who say they can speak two other European languages in addition to their mother tongue, today would be a good day to get on to it. Again, the Europa website comes to the party with some helpful tips on how to go about doing just thatlink in Spanish].

And if you're not even all that sure which languages are
[or, the languages of Europe once you get beyond the completely obvious like English, French, German and Spanish, then this is the webpage for you. [or, link in Finnish] It has all sorts of useful and interesting information about the languages of Europe: who speaks them and where, who learns them, who teaches them, which ones are the most useful, etc. etc. etc. It's definitely worth a look.

Feel free to make comments in any of the European languages. I'll give deciphering them my best shot, but I can't promise to be able to answer in the same language!

[UPDATE: I see that AskOxford, the Oxford University Press website, is getting in on the act with an amusing European day of languages page here.]