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Schaerbeek library lifts new world record and shows off its multilingual skills

18:26 28/02/2023

The world record for multilingual reading aloud has been broken by Bib Sophia, a library in the municipality of Schaerbeek, report local media.

Students and parents from local schools read out passages from the Flemish children’s book, Meneer René by author Leo Timmers, in a total of 65 languages. The new record surpasses that of Quatar’s museum of Islamic art, which achieved the same feat in 50 languages.

The record breaker was organised by the library, several of Schaerbeek’s schools and nonprofit youth centre. A jury of experts comprised of staff from the universities of Ghent, Louvain-La-Neuve, Antwerp and Brussels, as well as translators from European Institutions, were asked to judge the quality of each of the spoken languages. Unfortunately, 10 languages were dropped from the record as none of the jury could verify their accuracy.

One contestant from Ghana, who was thrilled with the event, said: “I spoke Akan, a language widely spoken in my home country. It’s a language that’s not very well known and I’m glad to have been able to share it in Schaerbeek today.”

In addition to the record, the objective of the event was to encourage parents and children to read out loud, whatever the language.

“The idea is to accept that Brussels is a very diverse city with many nationalities and languages,” explained librarian and organiser Sofie Van den Bergh. “We want to tell all parents that it’s important to read aloud to their children in their own language, even if it’s neither French nor Dutch.”

Photo: © Bib Sophia Facebook page




Written by Louis Kernoa-Pascoe