The 26th of September is the European Day of Languages, a day set aside to celebrate all of Europe’s 225 languages and to promote language learning.
Why celebrate European Languages Day? According to the Council of Europe, the holiday was set up after the “European Year of Languages” campaign in 2001, to promote the following objectives:
- [Awareness of] Europe’s rich linguistic diversity, which must be preserved and enhanced;
- the need to diversify the range of languages people learn (to include less widely used languages), which results in plurilingualism;
- the need for people to develop some degree of proficiency in two languages or more to be able to play their full part in democratic citizenship in Europe.
This year’s European Day of Languages saw a variety of events and celebrations, including workshops, school projects, meetups, exhibitions and more. Some of these are still ongoing- visit the Events page of the European Day of Languages website to see what’s going on and vote for your favorite.
In honor of the European Day of Languages, here are some fun facts about language in Europe:
- Europe is home to 225 indigenous languages. About 3% of the world’s languages originated here.
- The most widely spoken language in Europe is not English. Not even close. That honor goes to Russian, with 150 million speakers, followed by German with 95 million speakers and Turkish with 80 million. English and French tie for fourth place, with 65 million each.
- English is the most popular second language in Europe, however.
- European languages use the following scripts: Latin, Greek, Cyrillic, Armenian, Hebrew, Arabic, and Georgian.
- At least 300 languages are spoken in London.
- 56% of EU citizens speak at least one language besides their native tongue.
- Over 150 European languages and/or dialects are classified as endangered by UNESCO.
Did you celebrate the European Day of Languages? How?