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What you should know

Jobs are changing and languages evolving, new technologies are appearing and new words and expressions being formed. There are many examples of expressions that are dependent on context for their meaning. For example, how would you translate the words "Green Card" if you did not know about the American immigration and work permit system and you might take "hole in the wall" literally if you did not know it was a popular term for an ATM machine.

There are more than 6,000 languages in use in the world.

The role of languages in our organisations

Today more than 6,000 languages are used worldwide however 96% of them are spoken by 4% of the population and half of them are destined to disappear by the end of the century. With the access of Bulgaria and Romania in January 2007, there are 23 languages spoken in the European Union. Now, more than ever, translating and interpreting are essential factors for disseminating rules and regulations and also for the effectiveness of work within the different commissions.

Defending languages

The disappearance of languages is a consequence of the intermingling of populations, conflicts and the economic and cultural domination of some languages. But it is not inevitable and today every country is defending its cultural and linguistic diversity.

For some philosophers and cognitive scientists, the language that we speak influences our perception of the world. Work on classifying objects in linguistic terms has given different results depending on the languages used by individuals.


Many parents of different nationalities ask themselves whether they should use two languages when their children are very young. Some fear that the children will mix up words and structures from the two languages that they hear. In reality, studies have shown that the earlier that children hear their parents' languages, the better they master them in practice. They behave as if they were made up of "two monolingual individuals". Real bilingualism is the result of familiarisation with the two languages from birth, these people are the best translators.