Talk:National language

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Untitled[edit]

This article needs to include some counterexamples. It's also unclear whether the term "nation" is intended in a political sense, or one which is closer to "ethnic group". --Tbv 10:17, 1 March 2006 (UTC)

Tangential to Tbv's suggestion, the intro to the article could use a rewrite to accommodate wider geographical scope. In particular, "national language" in a number of African countries refers to an indigenous language with some legal status (as opposed to official language). Even in this context, "national language" may cover a few more widely spoken languages, or all indigenous tongues. And then there are some instances where "national language" is used in a sense like "official language" - I agree that the article needs attention from an expert. --A12n 00:45, 26 October 2006 (UTC)

I added a "globalize" tag. --A12n 20:05, 3 December 2006 (UTC)

National Languages of India - info here differs from another wiki page![edit]

Out of the 28 states and 7 union territories, only 10 states and 3 union territories have Hindi as the principal official language.

This does not fit in with Official languages of India which has Hindi against 12 states and 2 Union Territories. -- Q Chris 13:39, 5 March 2007 (UTC)

The remark above does not seem to describe the current content of the Official languages of India article. I suggest (1) that India-specific information be moved to a section headed ==India== introduced with a {{See also|Official languages of India}}, (2) that the ==Official versus national languages== section be reworked to more clearly describe differences/relationships between official languages versus national languages. Cites of sources defining the terms Official Language and National Language would be helpful.-- Boracay Bill 00:07, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
The current page 06:26, 8 March 2007 [1] has Hindi the 12 states
  1. Arunachal Pradesh
  2. Bihar
  3. Chhattisgarh
  4. Gujarat
  5. Haryana
  6. Himachal Pradesh
  7. Jharkhand
  8. Madhya Pradesh
  9. Rajasthan
  10. Uttarakhand
  11. Uttar Pradesh
  12. Delhi
It is also given for the two Union terratories
  1. Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  2. Chandigarh
As I said before this seems to differ from the information on this page. -- Q Chris 08:38, 8 March 2007 (UTC)
Ah. I think I see now. You are working from a list which you put together from the table in the ==Official languages - State Governments== section of the Official languages of India article. The list names the 12 states which that table describes as having Hindi as a state language. I, OTOH, was working from the statement in the Intro of that article which currently reads: "Out of the 28 states and 7 union territories, only 10 states and 3 union territories have Hindi as the principal official language." I think this would be better addressed if discussed in the talk page of that article than in the talk page of this one.
Regarding this National Language article
  • I still think this article would be improved if its India-specific portions were moved into a section headed ==India==, introduced with {{See also|Official languages of India}}, and with that new ==India== section of this article containing a small bit of info based on info in that other article, per the relevant section of the Wikipedia guide to layout.
  • I still think that the ====Official versus national languages== section of this article does not do a good job of explaining that topic.
I propose that the India-specific remarks be moved as described above and that the ==Official versus national languages== section be removed. Comments? Objections? -- Boracay Bill 22:30, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Redundancy and wikidef--Peter Isotalo 07:48, 16 November 2007 (UTC)initions[edit]

I believe that this article to a great extent is largely redundant with standard language. As far as I know the concept of a "national language" isn't something that lends itself to encyclopedic definition very easily. The most urgent task that needs to be addressed is a serious, preferably academic source, that attempts to pin down a meaning. I don't know what linguists feel about the term, but when I searched for it at dictionary.com I got a definition that was extremely vague. Merger and a redirect to official language might be much wiser.

Peter Isotalo 00:51, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

This article doesn't seem to have a consistent definition of what a national language is or of how (or whether) a national language differs from an official language. According to dictionary.com, Webster says: "the language spoken and written by the majority of people in a country; also, the official language of a country, recognized and adopted by its government". (Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English, Preview Edition (v 0.9.7). Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/national%20language (accessed: November 15, 2007).) I don't think that quite captures it, though -- Singapore is a refuting example, as is Afghanistan (according to List of official languages by state).
The lead section of this article has problems. The first sentence looks OK, but the rest of the section has problems as follows (I've commented on each):
  • A national language is used for political and legal discourse. [citation needed]
    Comment: In the section on Singapore, this article states that the Malay language is the national and official language, but that English is the language of business and governance and the medium of instruction in public schools. Other refuting examples probably exist.
  • Some countries have more than one national language, such as Canada which uses both French and English.
    Comment: The Constitution of Canada does not designate a national language. Section 16 designates French and English as official languages.
  • A national language declared as such by legislation is the same as an Official language.
    Comment: see the Philippines section of this article for a refuting example.
  • It is different for that reason from the national predominant language, which is a national language only through de facto use or by historical association with a particular nation. [citation needed]
    Comment: I don't follow this.
Also, the "Official versus national languages" section doesn't seem to address that topic.
How about removing that section header and replacing the current lead section with something like the following:

A national language is a language (or language variant, i.e. dialect) which represents the national identity of a nation or country.

Some governments have officially designated particular languages as national languages, others have not. Some governments have designated minority languages as their national language. Some governments have designated particular languages as "official languages", sometimes so designating other than those designated as "national languages".

Some languages of stateless nations are not officially designated as national languages in any country. Some have no government recognition, while others may enjoy a high degree of official recognition. National languages that are not officially recognized might include Aromanian, Cherokee, and Navajo (and other living Native American languages).

-- Boracay Bill 05:45, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
The concept of an official language isn't as strictly defined as you're trying to make it, Bill. For example, there are plenty of de facto official languages around the world. Swedish in Sweden (but not in Finland) is one good example. Citing official legislation and constitutions of states around the world as isn't the way to go, since that would basically become an interpretation of a type of primary sources and a highly legalistic one. What the article needs is the opinions of linguists or other scholars. If they can't provide a clearly independent deifinion, the article should be merged with official language.
Peter Isotalo 07:48, 16 November 2007 (UTC)
Peter is right about de facto official languages. The US is a prime example, but there are many. There are also "middle cases," if you will, where there is no broad "official language" legislation, but the language of the legislature is specified etc. On the question of "national language," there are cases notably in Africa where this is a specific legal category, different from official language. It is tricky to define "national language" generically, but it deserves a separate article (or perhaps articles?) to define it. The current article tries, but needs a broader international and expert input. --A12n (talk) 23:40, 16 November 2007 (UTC)

Some changes & some more thoughts[edit]

Pursuant to the above discussion I made a few changes in the opening. These are but first stabs - please feel free to do more.

I think the earlier comment that the definition is vague is at least partly correct. There are several concepts - national language, official language, regional language, standard language, and perhaps some others - that overlap somewhat yet are sometimes appropriated for specific use in different contexts. On the lgpolicy-list someone not too long ago asked "what the h... is an 'official language' anyway?" It can mean a number of things, and indeed it can be something to talk about (as a legislative goal to somehow address this or that), as well as something that functionally exists without anyone talking about or legislating it. As it turns out, one of the scholars on that list came up with a more or less established definition.

It may be that there is such a definition for national language (I should ask there). But in any event, I would not agree at this time merging this article with official language or any other. For one thing there is also the "regional language" category, which the Democratic Republic of the Congo uses. How is this different than "national language" in African contexts where one national language happens to be dominant in one region and another in another, but no one wants to call them regional languages (probably this is the case in Niger)? --A12n (talk) 00:49, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

Quick follow-up. Another way of looking at "national language" is that it has at least a couple of different senses:
  • "The national language of a nation." (where nation may or may not be a nation-state and the status of the "national language" may be such by custom or legislation)
  • "A national language of the nation." (where nation is a country [state but not necessarily with the sense of nation above] and "national language" is a legislated category) --A12n (talk) 13:46, 27 November 2007 (UTC)

CMB Brann reference[edit]

I added a paragraph about C.M.B. Brann's typology of "national language." I think it is a useful perspective. National language is a term variously used and it may take a while to reshape this article to more fully and consistently reflect that. The Brann reference might be better in another part of the article, especially if others find some other ways of categorizing the range of uses of this term. --A12n (talk) 23:33, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

4 Definitions[edit]

Could we get an expansion on the C. M. B. Brann definitions, as there doesn't seem to be anything distinguishing most of them. --Khajidha (talk) 20:30, 1 May 2014 (UTC)

Just reread the definitions, and while I agree there can be overlap, there also seem to be pretty clear distinctions. A language might be "national language" in one or more of the senses Brann outlines, but not in other senses. An expansion of discussion of his definitions would be merited, but at the same time it would be useful to have other definitions. In discussions I've had on the topic, I've referred to a simpler two category schema, but only to get away from what I see as the uncritical (and misleading, IMO) use of "national language" for the Europhone official languages of many African states: "nationwide" (in intended or actual function, on some level; French may be the national language of France, for instance, but it is not "national" in the same sense in say Mali or Senegal, and indeed "national language" may in such countries have a different use - see the following sense); and "language of the nation" (as in a first & heritage language of some part of the population of the country, but not the official language). Are there other definitions for how "national language" is used, that differ from or expand upon/refine Brann's schema?--A12n (talk) 18:26, 2 June 2014 (UTC)
Okay, here is the version in the article: "
   "Territorial language" (chthonolect, sometimes known as chtonolect[2]) 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."
No definition at all is given for Regional language.
Territorial language is defined in terms of people? The name would seem to indicate to the uninformed reader that it is the language spoken in a particular territory, which is also what an uninformed reader might understand Regional language to be.
Community language, the name of which seems to indicate that it is based on which people speak it is defined as being spoken in a particular place?
Central language is the only one that seems to have a clear and separate definition. --Khajidha (talk) 18:42, 3 June 2014 (UTC)