Year of Languages


The year 2008 has been proclaimed International Year of Languages by the United Nations General Assembly. With the slogan “languages matter!”, UNESCO is aiming at extensive fulfilment in its role as coordinator of activities for this Year. The conviction that language diversity is essential to the human heritage – as each and every language embodies the unique cultural wisdom of a people – is the common working ground for all those who will respond to this call for action.


Proposed areas for partnership and collaboration are multilingualism in cyberspace, radio programmes in all languages, translating projects especially from and into lesser known languages, languages and migration, safeguarding endangered languages, those being only an example of what a Year of Languages can mean for policy makers and project organizers. Quoting Mr Koïchiro Matsuura, Director General of UNESCO “The common goal is to ensure that the importance of linguistic diversity and multilingualism in educational, administrative and legal systems, cultural expressions and the media, cyberspace and trade, is recognized on the national, regional and international levels”.


UNESCO therefore invites governments, United Nations organizations, civil society organizations, educational institutions, professional associations and all other stakeholders to increase their own activities to foster respect for, and the promotion and protection of all languages, particularly endangered languages, in all individual and collective contexts.


The formal launching of the Year of Languages will be on 21 February 2008, the International Mother Language Day.


Extensive information is to be found on the official UNESCO website <www.unesco.org>