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Schaerbeek library wants to break record for reading in different languages

10:48 24/01/2023

A library in the Brussels neighbourhood of Schaerbeek is looking to break a record when it comes to multilingualism.

Sophia Library in Schaerbeek wants to host a read-aloud in as many languages as possible on 26 February, Bruzz reports.

The current record is held by a library in Qatar, where 55 different languages were featured in a read-aloud.

The library in Schaerbeek does not want to just break it. They aim to shatter it, with 70 languages featured in their own record attempt.

The library estimates that at least 100 different languages are spoken in Schaerbeek homes.

To that end, it is calling on residents to sign up with the language they speak at home. Each participant will then read aloud one sentence in their language in the presence of a delegate from the Guinness World Records organisation.

The book the library selected to read aloud is the children's book ‘Meneer René’ about the surrealist painter René Magritte, written by Brussels writer and illustrator Leo Timmers.

The book will be translated by staff of Molenbeek's centre for multilingualism into all the languages registered by candidates. Those translations will then be checked by language experts from Guinness World Records.

Not only must the text be translated correctly, the pronunciation of the readers must also be correct. To check this, linguists from the VUB and ACTO, the Academic Centre for Language Teaching at the VUB, will also be present for the reading.

One of the possible languages recognised by Guinness World Records is Limburgish, but Brussels dialect is not.

Written by Helen Lyons