National language

A national language is a language (or language variant, e.g. dialect) that has some connection—de facto or de jure—with people and the territory they occupy. There is little consistency in the use of this term. One or more languages spoken as first languages in the territory of a country may be referred to informally or designated in legislation as national languages of the country. National or national languages are mentioned in over 150 world constitutions.[1][dead link]

C.M.B. Brann, with particular reference to India, suggests that there are "four quite distinctive meanings" for national language in a polity:[2]

  • "Territorial language" (chthonolect, sometimes known as chtonolect[3]) of a particular people
  • "Regional language" (choralect)
  • "Language-in-common or community language" (demolect) used throughout a country
  • "Central language" (politolect) used by government and perhaps having a symbolic value.

The last is usually given the title of official language.

Standard languages, such as Standard German, Standard French, and Standard Spanish, may serve as national (language-in-common), regional, and international languages.

Official versus national languages

"National language" and "official language" are best understood as two concepts or legal categories with ranges of meaning that may coincide, or may be intentionally separate. Stateless nations are not in the position to legislate an official language, but their languages may be sufficiently distinct and well-preserved to be national languages. Some languages may be recognized popularly as "national languages," while others may enjoy official recognition in use or promotion.

In many African countries, some or all indigenous African languages are officially used, promoted, or expressly allowed to be promoted (usually taught in schools and written in important publications) as semi-official languages whether by long-term legislation or short-term, case-by-case executive (government) measures. To be official, spoken and written languages may enjoy government or federalised use, major tax-funded promotion or at least full tolerance as to their teaching and employers' recognition in public education, standing on equal footing with the official language(s). Further, they may enjoy recognition as a language used in compulsory schooling and treasury money may be spent to teach or encourage adults in learning a language which is a minority language in a particular area to restore its understanding and spread its moral stories, rhymes, poems, phrases, songs, and other literary heritage which will promote social cohesion (where other languages remain) or will promote nationalist differentiation where another, non-indigenous language is deprecated.[4][5]

Other Languages
العربية: لغة وطنية
Bân-lâm-gú: Kok-gí
беларуская: Нацыянальная мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Нацыянальная мова
भोजपुरी: राष्ट्रभाषा
български: Национален език
Чӑвашла: Наци чĕлхи
čeština: Národní jazyk
Esperanto: Nacia lingvo
فارسی: زبان ملی
français: Langue nationale
한국어: 국어
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa nasional
қазақша: Ұлттық тіл
Kiswahili: Lugha ya taifa
Kreyòl ayisyen: Lang nasyonal
македонски: Национален јазик
Malagasy: Tenim-pirenena
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa kebangsaan
Mìng-dĕ̤ng-ngṳ̄: Guók-ngṳ̄
日本語: 国語
português: Língua nacional
Simple English: National language
slovenčina: Národný jazyk
Taqbaylit: Tutlayt tanamurt
татарча/tatarça: Милли тел
українська: Національна мова
Tiếng Việt: Ngôn ngữ quốc gia
中文: 國家語言