There are six official languages of the United Nations Organization: Chinese, English, Spanish, Arabic, French and Russian. The correct interpretation and translation of these six languages, in both spoken and written form, is very important to the work of the Organization, because this enables clear and concise communication on issues of global importance. A delegate may speak in any official United Nations language. The speech is interpreted simultaneously into the other official languages of the United Nations. Sometimes a delegate makes a statement using a non-official language. In such cases, the delegation must provide either an interpretation or a written text of the statement in one of the official languages. Most United Nations documents are issued in all six official languages, requiring translation from the original document.
Chinese is a group of related but mutually unintelligible language varieties. About 1 200 000 000 people (16% of the people on Earth) speak some form of Chinese as their first language. There are between seven and thirteen main regional groups of Chinese depending on classification scheme. The most spoken by far is Mandarin. About 960 000 000 people speak Mandarin Chinese. About 80 000 000 people speak Wu. About 70 000 000 people speak Min. About 60 000 000 people speak Yue. Most of these groups are mutually unintelligible, and even dialect groups within Min Chinese may not be mutually intelligible. Standard Chinese is a standardized form of spoken Chinese based on the Beijing dialect of Mandarin. Standard Chinese is the official language of China and Taiwan, as well as one of the four official languages of Singapore. Standard Chinese is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.
English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and is now a global lingua franca. English is the third most spoken native language on Earth (after Standard Chinese and Spanish). English is the most widely learned second language and is the official language (or one of the official languages) in almost 60 sovereign states. There are more people who have learned English as a second language than there are native speakers. About 380 000 000 people are native speakers of English and about 400 000 000 people speak English as a second language (780 000 000 total). English is a co-official language of the United Nations, the European Union and many other world and regional international organizations.
Spanish is a Western Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain. Spanish is the second most spoken native language on Earth (after Standard Chinese). About 480 000 000 people are native speakers of Spanish and about 90 000 000 people speak Spanish as a second language (570 000 000 total). Spanish vocabulary has been in contact with Arabic from an early date, having developed during the Al-Andalus era in the Iberian Peninsula. Arabic is the second most important influence after Latin with around 8% of Spanish vocabulary being Arabic in origin. Spanish is one of six official languages of the United Nations. Spanish is also used as an official language by the European Union, the Organization of American States, the Union of South American Nations, the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, the African Union, and by many other international organizations.
Arabic is a Central Semitic language that first emerged in Iron Age northwestern Arabia and is now the lingua franca of the Arab world. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising thirty modern varieties, including its standard form: Modern Standard Arabic. The modern written language (Modern Standard Arabic) is derived from Classical Arabic. Modern Standard Arabic is one of six official languages of the United Nations. About 313 000 000 people are native speakers of Arabic. Perhaps as many as 422 000 000 people speak some variety of Arabic (native and non-native) in the Arab world, making Arabic the fifth most spoken language on Earth. Arabic is written from right to left.
French is a Romance language of the Indo-European family. French is an official language in twenty-nine countries across five different continents, most of which are members of the Organisation internationale de la Francophonie (OIF), the community of eighty-four countries which share the official use or teaching of French. French is the tenth most spoken language on Earth, behind Mandarin Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Arabic, Malay, Russian, Bengali, and Portuguese, and is the second most studied language on Earth. French is estimated to have about 76 000 000 native speakers. Approximately 274 000 000 people are able to speak French according to OIF. French has a long history as an international language of literature and scientific standards. French is a primary or second language of many international organizations, including the United Nations, the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the World Trade Organization, the International Olympic Committee, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 2011, Bloomberg Businessweek ranked French the third most useful language for business, after English and Standard Mandarin Chinese.
Russian is East Slavic language and official language in Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and many minor or unrecognised territories throughout Eurasia. Russian is unofficial but widely spoken language in Latvia, Moldova, Ukraine, and to lesser extent, other post-Soviet states. Russian was official de facto language of Soviet Union during its existence until its dissolution in 1991. Russian is eighth most spoken language on Earth by number of native speakers and seventh by total number of speakers. Russian is one of six official languages of United Nations. About 150 000 000 people are native speakers of Russian and about 110 000 000 people speak Russian as a second language (260 000 000 total). Russian is also second most widespread language on Internet after English.
28 May 2018 CE