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Diversity important, says UN official
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The United Nations resolves to attach equal importance to its six official languages and to continue to foster language diversity, the UN assistant secretary-general said in Shanghai yesterday.

The UN has named this year as the "International Year of Languages" to enhance people's awareness of the need to protect languages, said Yohhanes Mengesha, assistant Secretary-General for UN General Assembly and Conference Management.

"The UN's language policy is clear, that is we respect multilingualism strictly," Mengesha said during the World Congress of the Federation Internationale des Traducteurs.

He said UN documents and conferences should be in the six official languages - English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Russian and Arabic - simultaneously. No encouragement or promotion of any single language is allowed.

"That makes translators and interpreters play a key role in the entire UN function," Mengesha said.

The UN now has more than 100 Chinese people working as translators and interpreters in New York, accounting for about one-sixth of the total at its headquarters.

To become a UN translator or interpreter, candidates must master two out of the six official languages besides his or her mother tongue.

Chinese natives should also master one active foreign language and another passive one to be qualified for the job.

The UN has launched this year's selection for translators and interpreters. Applicants need to accomplish two translation pieces along with the application form before being qualified to sit a written exam. Applications are due by September 8.

(Shanghai Daily August 6,2008)

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