An official language, also called state language, is a language given
a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other
jurisdiction. Typically a country's official language refers to the
language used in government (judiciary, legislature,
administration). The term "official language" does not
typically refer to the language used by a people or country, but by
its government, as "the means of expression of a people
cannot be changed by any law".
About half the countries of the world have declared one or more
official languages. The government of Italy officialised Italian only
in 1999, and some nations (such as the United States) have
never declared official languages at the national level.
Other nations have declared non-indigenous official languages. "The
1 History 2 Statistics 3 Political alternatives 4 In specific countries/territories
4.1 Afghanistan 4.2 Bangladesh 4.3 Bulgaria 4.4 Belarus 4.5 Canada 4.6 Finland 4.7 Germany 4.8 Hong Kong 4.9 India 4.10 Israel 4.11 Latvia 4.12 New Zealand 4.13 Norway 4.14 Pakistan 4.15 Russia 4.16 South Africa 4.17 Switzerland 4.18 Taiwan 4.19 Ukraine 4.20 United Kingdom 4.21 United States 4.22 Yugoslavia
5 See also 6 References 7 Further reading 8 External links
Around 500 BC, when
Darius the Great
According to an undated chart by the American pro-English-only
organization known as U.S. English, 178 countries have an official
language at the national level. Among those, English is the most
common with 67 nations giving it official status. French is second
with 29 countries,
See also: List of multilingual countries and regions
The selection of an official language (or no official language) is
often contentious. An alternative to having a single
official language is "official multilingualism", where a government
recognizes multiple official languages. Under this system, all
government services are available in all official languages. Each
citizen may choose their preferred language when conducting business.
Most countries are multilingual and many are officially
multilingual. Taiwan, Canada, Philippines, Belgium, Switzerland, and
In specific countries/territories Afghanistan Main article: Languages of Afghanistan In accordance with Chapter 1, Article 16 of the Constitution of Afghanistan, the Afghan government gives equal status to Pashto and Dari as official languages.
After the independence of
Bulgaria Bulgarian is the sole official language in Bulgaria.
Belarus Main article: Belarusian since 1991 Belarusian and Russian have official status in the Republic of Belarus.
Main article: Official bilingualism in Canada
In accordance with the Constitution Act, 1982 the (federal) Government
Finland According to the Finnish constitution, Finnish and Swedish are the official languages of the republic. Citizens have the right to communicate in either language with government agencies.
Main article: Languages of Germany
German is the official language of Germany. However, its minority
languages include Sorbian (
Main article: Languages of Hong Kong
According to the
Basic Law of Hong Kong and the Official Languages
Ordinance, both Chinese and English are the official languages of Hong
Kong with equal status. The variety of Chinese is not stipulated,
however Cantonese, being the language most commonly used by the
Hongkongers forms the de facto standard. Similarly
Traditional Chinese characters
Further information: Languages of
Main article: Languages of Israel
On 19 July 2018, the
"Any provision in the law requiring the use of the
Constitution of Latvia
It proposed several constitutional amendments for introducing Russian
as Latvia's second official language—i.e., amendments to the
Satversme’s Articles 4 (on Latvian as the state language), 18 (on
the solemn promise of a member of Parliament to strengthen the Latvian
language), 21 (on Latvian as the working language of the Parliament),
101 (on Latvian as the working language of local governments), and 104
(on the right to receive a reply to a petition in Latvian). Obviously,
the proposed amendments would have influenced other constitutional
norms as well. Moreover, since Article 4 of the Satversme alike norms
of independence, democracy, sovereignty, territorial wholeness, and
basic principles of elections that form the core of the Satversme
(according to Article 77 of the Satversme), the initiative, in fact,
proposed discontinuing an existing state and establishing a new one
that is no longer a nation-state wherein Latvians exercise their
rights to self-determination, enjoying and maintaining their cultural
Languages of Norway
Main article: Languages of Russia
Russian is the official language of the
Main article: Languages of South Africa
Main article: Languages of Switzerland
The four national languages of
Ukraine The neutrality of this article is disputed. Relevant discussion may be found on the talk page. Please do not remove this message until conditions to do so are met. (December 2018) (Learn how and when to remove this template message) In 2012 debate over adopting Russian as a regional language in Ukraine caused "an all-out brawl in Parliament", protests, and the resignation of a lawmaker in attempt to block the bill.
See also: Languages of the United Kingdom
The de facto official language of the
See also: Languages of the United States
English is the de facto national language of the United States. While
there is no official language at the federal level, 32 of the 50 U.S.
states and all six inhabited U.S. territories have
designated English as one, or the only, official language, while
courts have found that residents in the 50 states do not have a right
to government services in their preferred language. Public
debate in the last few decades has focused on whether Spanish should
be recognized by the government, or whether all business should be
done in English.
See also: English-only movement
The pro-English-only website U.S. English sees a multilingual
government as one in which its "services actually encourage the growth
of linguistic enclaves...[and] contributes to racial and ethnic
conflicts". Opponents of an official language policy in
Sometimes an official language definition can be motivated more by
national identity than by linguistic concerns. When Yugoslavia
dissolved in 1991, the country had four official
languages—Serbo-Croatian, Slovene, Albanian and Macedonian.
List of official languages by state
List of official languages by institution
List of languages without official status
^ "Official Language", Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language, Ed. Tom McArthur, Oxford University Press, 1998.
^ Pueblo v. Tribunal Superior, 92 D.P.R. 596 (1965). Translation taken from the English text, 92 P.R.R. 580 (1965), p. 588-589. See also LOPEZ-BARALT NEGRON, "Pueblo v. Tribunal Superior: Español: Idioma del proceso judicial", 36 Revista Juridica de la Universidad de Puerto Rico. 396 (1967), and VIENTOS-GASTON, "Informe del Procurador General sobre el idioma", 36 Rev. Col. Ab. (P.R.) 843 (1975).
^ The Status of Languages in Puerto Rico. Luis Muñiz-Arguelles. University of Puerto Rico. 1986. Page 466. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
^ "Legge 15 Dicembre 1999, n. 482 "Norme in materia di tutela delle minoranze linguistiche storiche" pubblicata nella Gazzetta Ufficiale n. 297 del 20 dicembre 1999". Italian Parliament. Archived from the original on 12 May 2015. Retrieved 2 December 2014..mw-parser-output cite.citation font-style:inherit .mw-parser-output .citation q quotes:"""""""'""'" .mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/65/Lock-green.svg/9px-Lock-green.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d6/Lock-gray-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-gray-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/aa/Lock-red-alt-2.svg/9px-Lock-red-alt-2.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration color:#555 .mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help .mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a background:url("//upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4c/Wikisource-logo.svg/12px-Wikisource-logo.svg.png")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center .mw-parser-output code.cs1-code color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit .mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error display:none;font-size:100% .mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error font-size:100% .mw-parser-output .cs1-maint display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em .mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format font-size:95% .mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left padding-left:0.2em .mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right padding-right:0.2em
^ a b "Official American". PBS.org. MACNEIL/LEHRER PRODUCTIONS. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
^ "Read about "Official or national languages" on Constitute". Retrieved 2016-03-28.
^ "L'aménagement linguistique dans le monde: page d'accueil". www.axl.cefan.ulaval.ca. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
^ endoglossic and exoglossic on OxfordDictionaries.com.
^ electricpulp.com. "ARAMAIC – Encyclopaedia Iranica". www.iranicaonline.org. Retrieved 14 April 2018.
^ Records of the Grand Historian, 6
^ a b "Chapter 1, Article 6 of the South African Constitution". constitutionalcourt.org.za. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
^ a b "
^ a b c d e Alan Patten (October 2011). "Political Theory and Language Policy" (pdf). Political Theory. 29 (5): 691–715. doi:10.1177/0090591701029005005. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
^ Follen, Charles; Mehring, Frank (2007-01-01). Between Natives and Foreigners: Selected Writings of Karl/Charles Follen (1796-1840). Peter Lang. ISBN 9780820497327.
^ Laycock, David (2011-11-01). Representation and Democratic Theory. UBC Press. ISBN 9780774841009.
^ Martin-Jones, Marilyn; Blackledge, Adrian; Creese, Angela (2012-01-01). The Routledge Handbook of Multilingualism. Routledge. ISBN 9780415496476.
^ "Article 3. The state language". The Constitution of the People's Republic of Bangladesh. bdlaws.minlaw.gov.bd. Ministry of Law, The People's Republic of Bangladesh. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
^ "Bangla Bhasha Procholon Ain, 1987" বাংলা ভাষা প্রচলন আইন, ১৯৮৭ [Bengali Language Implementation Act, 1987]. Ministry of Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs. Government of Bangladesh. Retrieved 2019-05-15.
^ Constitution of the Republic Bulgaria, article 3
^ Official Languages at the Heart of Our Identity: An overview of the Official Languages Act. Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages. Ottawa, Canada. Retrieved 26 August 2013.
^ "War between Traditional and Simplified". anthony8988. 7 May 2014.
^ "Disclaimer and Copyright Notice". Legislative Council. Retrieved 25 May 2019.
^ "Constitutional Provisions: Official
^ Languages Included in the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constution Archived 2016-06-04 at the Wayback Machine
^ Halbfinger, David M.; Kershner, Isabel (19 July 2018). "Israeli Law Declares the Country the 'Nation-State of the Jewish People'". New York Times. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
^ The Palestine Gazette, No. 898 of 29 June 1939, Supplement 2, pp. 464–465.
^ Law and Administration Ordinance No 1 of 5708—1948, clause 15(b). Official Gazette No. 1 of 5th Iyar, 5708; as per authorised translation in Laws of the State of Israel, Vol. I (1948) p. 10.
^ Jarinovska, K. "Popular Initiatives as Means of Altering the Core of the Republic of Latvia", Juridica International. Vol. 20, 2013. p. 152 ISSN 1406-5509
^ NZ Sign
^ Xaba, Vusi (2 September 2011). "
^ "國家語言發展法". law.moj.gov.tw (in Chinese). Retrieved 22 May 2019.
^ David M. Herszenhorn (July 4, 2012). "Ukrainian Official Quits to
^ "Welsh speakers by local authority, gender and detailed age groups, 2011 Census". statswales.gov.wales. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 22 May 2016.
^  - US English: West Virginia Becomes 32nd State to Adopt English as Official Language
^ a b James M. Inhofe; Cecilia Muñoz. "Should English be declared America's national language?". The New York Times upfront. Scholastic. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
^ "Available Languages".
^ "New York State Voter Registration Form" (PDF). New York State Board of Elections.
^ "Why Is Official English Necessary?". U.S. English. Archived from the original on June 7, 2013. Retrieved August 26, 2013.
^ James Crawford. "
^ Mørk, Henning (2002). Serbokroatisk grammatik: substantivets
^ Václav Blažek, "On the Internal Classification of Indo-European Languages: Survey" retrieved 20 Oct 2010, pp. 15–16.
^ Kordić, Snježana (2007). "La langue croate, serbe, bosniaque et monténégrine" [Croatian, Serbian, Bosniakian, and Montenegrin] (PDF). In Madelain, Anne (ed.). Au sud de l'Est (PDF). vol. 3 (in French). Paris: Non Lieu. pp. 71–78. ISBN 978-2-35270-036-4. OCLC 182916790. Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 June 2012.
Selma Boračić; Ajdin Kamber (December 5, 2011). "
Further reading Writing Systems of the World: Alphabets, Syllabaries, Pictograms (1990), ISBN 0-8048-1654-9 — lists official languages of the countries of the world, among other information. External links
Languages by country in The World Factbook