Turkish emerges as candidate for official UN language

October 02, 2011, Sunday/ 16:19:00

Turkish has once again emerged as a candidate language for recognition as the seventh official language of the UN, a costly and lengthy process if Turkic speaking countries decide to push for their language to be added to the organization's six official languages.

The issue was brought up during a meeting between Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in New York two weeks ago, the Anatolia news agency reported on Sunday.

“Recognition of official languages is an issue UN member countries can decide on,” Ban was quoted by Anatolia as saying in response to Erdoğan's request to the UN to recognize Turkish as an official UN language.

The UN currently has six official languages, namely Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. It is, however, very costly and difficult to add a new language to the list. When Arabic became an official language, Anatolia noted, Arabic-speaking countries had to pay three years' worth of translation costs in order to use Arabic as a working and official language at the UN.

So far, Bengali, Indian and Portuguese have been discussed as candidates for the seventh language, but no solid development has surfaced regarding the process. Turkish is also noted to be at a disadvantage since the language is spoken only in Turkey.

On the other hand, Turkish is a part of the Turkic language family, the members of which are spoken in Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan among the member countries. The UN receives constant criticism for using mainly English, while other languages usually end up being ignored in the translation process. 

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