The library Bib Sophia in Schaerbeek on Sunday broke the Guinness World Record for Multilingual Reading after participants here read a book in 65 different languages.
The previous record for "most languages used in a reading relay" was 55, held by the Museum of Islamic Art (Qatar), but this was broken on Sunday morning by a library in Schaerbeek, where children and parents from schools in the neighbourhood gathered to read the book 'Mister René' about the Belgian painter Magritte by children's author Leo Timmers.
One sentence of the book was read aloud in each of the 65 languages, from Akkadian, Urdu and Swahili to Lingala, Welsh, and Hebrew, with a maximum of ten seconds of waiting time between the languages.
"For us, the world record is the icing on the cake, but even without the record, this was a very successful day," said Schaerbeek's councillor for Dutch-language Culture and Education Adelheid Byttebier.
"We especially wanted to positively highlight the wealth of languages that our municipality has, and stress that children should be proud of their home language."
A jury of experts, consisting of professors and staff from the universities of Ghent, Antwerp, Brussels, and Louvain-la-Neuve, and professional translators from the European institutions, judged whether the language used while reading was correct to make sure the world record could be official.
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Sven Gatz, Brussels Minister for the Promotion of Multilingualism, who was enthusiastic about the project, noted that it shows how multilingualism really resonates with the Brussels population.
"We try to highlight multilingualism as much as possible, and make as many people as possible aware of its importance. This initiative shows how multilingualism really resonates with our population," he concluded.