List of multilingual countries and regions

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This is an incomplete list of areas with either multilingualism at the community level or at the personal level.

There is a distinction between social and personal bilingualism. Many countries, such as Belarus, Belgium, Canada, India, Ireland, South Africa and Switzerland, which are officially multilingual, may have many monolinguals in their population. Officially monolingual countries, on the other hand, such as France, can have sizable multilingual populations. Some countries have official languages but also have regional and local official languages, notably Brazil, China, Mexico, Russia, Spain and Taiwan.

Africa[edit]

Central Africa[edit]

East Africa[edit]

Horn of Africa[edit]

  • Djibouti: Arabic & French (official)[17] + Somali & Afar.
  • Eritrea: Tigrinya, Arabic and English are predominantly used in commerce and government affairs. The use and development of nine Eritrean languages (Tigrinya, Bilen, Afar, Saho, Rashaida, Tigre, Kunama, Nara and Hidarib) are encouraged at the local level and children attend primary school through the fifth grade in their mother tongue.[18]
  • Ethiopia: the federal working languages is Amharic. On regional level, working languages are Tigrigna in Tigray[19], Afarigna in Afar[20], Oromifa (Oromigna) in Oromia[21], Somali in Somali region[22], Harari in Harari region[23]
  • Somalia: Somali (official) & Arabic ("second language").[24]

North Africa[edit]

Southern Africa[edit]

West Africa[edit]

Americas[edit]

A trash can in Seattle labeled in four languages: English, Chinese (垃圾), Vietnamese (should be rác), and Spanish. Tagalog also uses the Spanish word.

Caribbean[edit]

Central America[edit]

  • Belize: English, Spanish and Mayan languages have some official usage[citation needed], although the legacy of British rule emphasised English to be most commonly used for official purposes though the majority are Hispanophone.
  • Guatemala has one official language which is Spanish, however, there are 23[citation needed] distinct Mayan languages. Maya, Garifuna and Xincan languages are recognized to be essential elements of the national identity.[56]
  • Honduras: Spanish is the official language, despite Afro-Caribbean English, Garifuna and indigenous languages can be found in the rural outskirts of the country.
  • In Nicaragua, even while Spanish is the official language spoken broadwide (almost 95%, according to some sources[citation needed]), there are other de facto languages such as Creole, Miskitu, Rama and Mayangna (Sumu) in their own linguistic communities. According to the Constitution, the languages of the Atlantic Coasts should be used officially in cases established by law.[57]

North America[edit]

  • Canada is officially bilingual under the Official Languages Act and the Constitution of Canada that require the federal government to deliver services in both official languages. As well, minority language rights are guaranteed where numbers warrant. 56.9% of the population speak English as their first language while 22.9% are native speakers of French. The remaining population belong to some of Canada's many immigrant populations or to the indigenous population. See Bilingualism in Canada
    • The Canadian province of British Columbia has a sizable population that speaks Mandarin or Cantonese, particularly in the city of Vancouver and its satellite town of Richmond.
    • The Canadian province of New Brunswick, with a large Acadian population (33% French-speaking) is officially bilingual.[58]
    • The Canadian province of Quebec, (7.9% English-speaking)[citation needed] Note: Quebec's largest city, Montreal, is a multilingual city with half the population having French as their mother tongue, and the other half having English or other languages as their mother tongue. [59] A majority of Montrealers, whether they call themselves francophone, anglophone or allophone, know both French and English. [60] The city's McGill University is officially a bilingual school, allowing students to submit essays or tests in either English or French. [61]
Although there is a sizable English-speaking population in Quebec, French is the only official language of the provincial government.  At the same time, many services are provided in English, such as health services, education, legislative activities and judiciary services.[62]  Many government services are available in English and French.[citation needed]
  • Mexico: The government recognizes 62 indigenous languages[citation needed], including Nahuatl spoken by more than 1.5 million people and Aguacatec spoken by 27 people, along with Spanish. Indigenous languages are recognised as national languages in areas where they are spoken[73] There is no official language at the federal level, although Spanish is the de facto state language.
    • In Yucatán, Yucatec Maya language is recognised in state constitution[74]
    • In Oaxaca state constitution, 15 indigenous communities are listed. Certain use of their languages in education and court proceedings is provided for.[75]
    • In Campeche state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and teaching them in schools are provided for[76]
    • In Quintana Roo state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and education is provided for; also, the laws are to be published in Maya language[77]
    • In Chihuahua state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts, education, health care and government-disseminated information is provided for[78]
    • In Chiapas state constitution, use of indigenous languages in courts and education is provided for[79]
  • In the United States, at the federal level, there is no official language, although there have been efforts to make English the official language. Use of several languages in electoral process under certain circumstances is provided for by federal law, including Spanish in the whole states of Florida, California and Texas.[80]

South America[edit]

  • Argentina has several ethnic communities of European, Asian and indigenous origins (the Andean and northeast regions), who speak their own languages,[specify] but uses de facto Spanish as the official language of the country.
  • Bolivia is officially multilingual, supporting Spanish and 36 native languages.[103]
  • Brazil, Portuguese (official) and upwards to 100 languages spoken mainly in the urban areas (European and Asian) and indigenous languages in the Amazon. The use of indigenous languages in primary education is enshrined in the constitution.[104]
  • Chile uses de facto Spanish as official language, but there are not an act that declares officiality. The Indigenous Act ratified in 1992 permites the official usage of four indigenous languages: Aimara, Mapudungun, Quechua and Rapa Nui (Easter Island in Polynesia) inside the indigenous communities and areas with high native population density.[108] In the southern portion, there is a sizable but bilingual German-speaking population.
  • Colombia The official language is Spanish. Languages of ethnic groups are official in their territories.[109]
    English is co-official in San Andres and Providencia.[110]
  • Ecuador defines Spanish as its official language, but Spanish, Quechua and Shuar — as official languages of intercultural relations in the Article 2 of the 2008 Constitution.[111]
  • Guyana, English (official), Hindi, Chinese, indigenous languages, and a small Portuguese-speaking community. The Amerindian Act orders the National Toshaos Council to promote the recognition and use of Amerindian languages.[112]
  • Paraguay, 48% of its population is bilingual[citation needed] in Guaraní and Spanish (both official languages of the Republic[113]), of whom 37% speak only Guaraní and 8% only Spanish but the latter increases with the use of Jopará. There is a large Mennonite German colony in the Gran Chaco region as well.[citation needed]
  • Peru's official languages are Spanish and, in the zones where they are predominant, Quechua, Aymara, and other aboriginal languages.[114][115] In addition to that, in Peru there is a large community of immigrants, of which few keep their languages. Within those, there are the Japanese and the Chinese (Cantonese dialect), for example and in smaller numbers, the Germans (central Andes), Italian, the Arabic speakers, and the Urdu speakers retain their native languages in Peru. The last two are products of the recent wave of immigrants from Palestine and Pakistan. Lately also have much influence is the English by the number of tourists and American and British residents.
  • In Suriname, Dutch, Sranan, and English are spoken by almost everyone.[citation needed] In addition, Chinese and various Indian languages are spoken.
  • Uruguay has a large Italian-speaking minority also proficient in Spanish. Its border with Brazil has a mixed Portuguese-speaking presence.[citation needed]
  • Venezuela has declared Spanish the official language, while there are some European and Arabic languages spoken in urban areas, Caribbean English dialects in the Caribbean and indigenous languages spoken in the Guayana department. The use of native languages also has official status for native peoples[116]

Asia[edit]

Central Asia[edit]

  • Kazakhstan: Kazakh and Russian both have official status—Kazakh as the "state" language and Russian as "officially used on equal grounds along with the Kazak language".[117]
  • Kyrgyzstan: Kyrgyz is the state language and Russian "used in the capacity of an official language".[118]
  • Tajikistan: Tajik as the state language and Russian, designated as language of interethnic communication in the constitution,[119] are widely spoken.[specify]
  • In Uzbekistan, Uzbek (official), Tajik, and Russian are all widely spoken.[specify] Use of Russian (alongside Uzbek) is foreseen for notarized documents and civic records[120][121]
    • In the autonomous Karakalpakstan, Karakalpak language is an official one, alongside Uzbek.[122]

East Asia[edit]

  • In Mainland China, Standard Mandarin (Putonghua) is the official language and is spoken in all regions. It is used for official and formal purposes, by the media, and in education as the language of instruction. However, on money notes, there are texts both in Mandarin (Han) and in Mongolian, Tibetan, Uyghur, and Zhuang.[123] In every locality and region, local varieties of Chinese are spoken in daily life. These range from being quite similar to Putonghua, such as Tianjin dialect, to those that are mutually unintelligible with Putonghua such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai dialect (Wu) or Guangzhou dialect (Cantonese). In the autonomous regions, minority languages are used (such as Tibetan in Tibet[124] or Mongolian in Inner Mongolia,[125] Uyghur, Kazakh and others in Xinjiang[126]).
    • In Hong Kong, English and Chinese are official languages.[127] All road signs are written in both languages. English is the dominant language in the judiciary and in higher education. Hong Kong Cantonese is the first language of the majority of the population, and is the dominant language in many aspects of everyday life. While Cantonese is the widely spoken form of Chinese in Hong Kong, Standard Mandarin is also taught in schools. The degrees of proficiency in English and Mandarin vary from person to person.
    • In Macau, both Chinese and Portuguese are official languages.[128] While Cantonese is the dominant form of Chinese, Standard Mandarin (Putonghua) is also spoken. Chinese is taught in all schools, while Portuguese is mainly taught in government schools. In addition, English is also taught in many schools.
  • Taiwan: Mandarin is the "official" language, but Taiwanese Southern Hokkien is commonly used in most people (especially adults and elders). In the Hakka community, some people are trilingual in Hakka, Mandarin and Taiwanese. Some 10 Aboriginal languages are also spoken in the mountain and eastern portion of the island. Their promotion and use are provided for by the Indigenous Peoples Basic Law[129] In 2017, amdendments to the Hakka Basic Act to widen use of Hakka[130], and a law providing for the use of indigenous languages in 55 municipalities were adopted.[131]

North Asia[edit]

  • Russia holds a List of minor indigenous peoples of Russia. This list currently mentions 50 peoples [132] (40 until an amendment in 2015), and the "Law on the guarantees of the rights of the minor indigenous peoples of Russia" guarantees among other Federal programmes for the protection and development of their languages and cultures (article 5). The article 10 of the same law guarantees to people belonging to these peoples the right to preserve and develop their native language, and the right to receive and broadcast information in their native languages and to create media.[133].
  • Several Republics of Russia make locally official the language of the main people(s) of those Republics:
    • Buryatia — Russian and Buryat are official languages[134]
    • Altai Republic — Russian and Altay are official languages[135]
    • Tuva — Russian and Tyvan are official languages[136]
    • Khakassia — Russian and Khakas are official languages[137]
    • Sakha Republic — Russian and Sakha are official languages in the whole Republic[138]. The law "about the languages of the Sakha Republic" mentions in its article 6 that Evenk, Even, Yukagir, Dolgan, Chukchi languages are recognized as official in the places where those peoples live and are used as equal as the national languages. The Sakha Republic guarantees protection and care for the preservation and the free development of those languages. It is worth noting, however, that Chukchi has no official status in the neighbouring Chukotka. It is closely related to Koryak which is official in the North of Kamchatka (see below).
  • Administrative-territorial units with special status (formerly Federal_subjects_of_Russia, downgraded in 2007-2008):

South Asia[edit]

A sign-board that indicates the direction to Sabarimala, a pilgrim station in India. The multilingual board is written in Hindi, Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and English (in that order, from top to bottom)
  • India: There are 23 official languages in the states and territories of India (Including Hindi and English, the languages with official use in the whole federation[141]). The largest, Hindi, is spoken natively by 40% of the population. English is also widely used, although mainly in urban parts of the country. A large number of students with a high-school education would generally be bilingual — speaking their own native language, in addition to English, with varying fluency, possibly Hindi as well, the languages being compulsorily (in select states) taught in most schools and colleges. see Languages of India
  • Pakistan. The national language is English and Urdu; English was to replaced by Urdu however this has not occurred despite many attempts in the past to do so. Pakistan is unique in that both English and Urdu are non-native languages and nearly all Pakistani's need to learn them as a second and/or a third language.[142] There are many regional languages and dialects (the latter are often unintelligible from other dialects of the "same language"). Many high-school and college educated Pakistanis are trilingual, being able to speak English and Urdu as well as their own regional language with varying fluency.
  • Sri Lanka. Sinhala and Tamil are official languages. English is referred to as the link language in the constitution.[143]

Southeast Asia[edit]

  • Brunei: Malay (official), English[144]
  • Cambodia: Khmer is the official language, but French is spoken by a minority and sometimes used in government and education.[citation needed], Mandarin is spoken in business and commerce.
  • East Timor — Tetum and Portuguese are the official languages; English and Indonesian "shall be working languages within the public administration side by side with official languages as long as it is deemed necessary"[145]
  • Indonesia is the largest bilingual country in the world, with approximately 200 million people speak more than one language. Indonesian speak about 746 different languages.[146] Javanese has the most users in terms of native speakers (about 80 million). However, the sole official (or so-called "unity language") is Indonesian which has only 30 million L1 speakers (compared to Indonesia 260 million population). The role of Indonesian is important to glue together different ethnics and languages in Indonesia. Though Indonesian is considered the nation's only official language, regional governments have rights to conduct regional languages study at schools. Many people in Indonesia are bilingual at an early age. They speak a local native language with their families whereas the official Indonesian language is used to communicate with people from other regions and is taught in schools as a compulsory subject.
  • In Laos, Lao is the official language, but French is understood and used by government.
  • In Malaysia, nearly all people have a working knowledge of Malay and English.[citation needed] Malay is the official language of the country, along with English in the state of Sarawak.[147][148][149] Malay and English are compulsory subjects taught in all public schools, and English is the language of instruction for science and mathematics. Chinese (Mandarin) and Tamil are spoken by the Chinese and Indian communities respectively, and are the languages of instruction in Chinese and Tamil primary schools respectively.[citation needed] Among the Chinese community, apart from Mandarin, several Chinese languages especially Hakka, Hokkien, Cantonese and Teochew and among Indians, Tamil is the most spoken and dominant language. The indigenous peoples of Sabah and Sarawak speak their ancestral languages (Dayak, Iban etc.). However, it is not uncommon for the locals to be fluent in several of the above languages.[specify] The Constitution provides for use of Sabah and Sarawak languages in native courts or for any code of native law and custom.[150]
  • Philippines: The Philippine constitution. designates Filipino as the national language and, along with English, as official languages. Regional languages are designated as auxiliary official languages in the regions which shall serve as auxiliary media of instruction therein. Spanish and Arabic are designated to be promoted on a voluntary and optional basis.[151] Some people in native Tagalog areas are bilingual, while in non-Tagalog areas it is common to be multilingual in Filipino, English, and in one or more of the regional languages, or as in other cases in languages such as Spanish, Minnan (Hokkien), and Arabic due to factors such as ancestry and religion. Eleven regional languages are recognised by the government as auxiliary official languages in their respective regions, while 90+ other languages and dialects are spoken by various groups.
  • Singapore: English, Mandarin Chinese, Malay and Tamil are all official languages. Malay is the national language.[152] English is the main language used in Singapore.[153] As English links the different races, a group with diverse races communicate using English. Most of the population can speak, read and write in English. In addition to English, many Singaporeans can speak their respective ethnic language like Hakka fairly well, as it is a compulsory subject in school. In Chinese communities, the older generation usually speak their own language like Hakka besides Mandarin and/or English.
  • Thailand: Thai is the main and sole official language in Thailand. There are different dialects such as Phitsanulok, Ayutthaya, Suphan Buri(traditional dialect), Thonburi, but Standard Thai is influenced by Thai chinese in Bangkok, Isan which is influenced from Lao and widely used in the northeastern area,[specify] Southern Thai is spoken in the southern provinces, Northern Thai is spoken in the provinces that were formerly part of the independent kingdom of Lanna. Karen languages are spoken along the border with Burma, Khmer near Cambodia (and previously throughout central Thailand), and Malay in the south near Malaysia. The Thai hill tribes speak numerous small languages. Also, there is a big population of Chinese descent people in Thailand and the old generation often use Teochew as well as Hakka as their first language.[specify] The new generation tends to speak them as a second language or some may not know it at all.
  • Vietnam: Vietnamese is the official language, and English is the most commonly used and studied second language, especially in education, international relations, and the media. In addition, French is spoken by a small minority of people and elders as it used to be the most common second language. The right to use own language, also in courts, is foreseen in the constitution.[154]

Western Asia[edit]

  • Bahrain: Arabic is the official language, and English is the most commonly used and studied second language, especially in education, international relations, and the media. In addition, Persian and Urdu are widely spoken.[citation needed]
  • In Iran, Persian is the sole official language, but Azerbaijani (along with related varieties such as Qashqa'i and Kalaj) has upwards of 15 million speakers[citation needed]. Other minority languages include Kurdish, Turkmen, and Balochi. Assyrian is spoken by a Christian minority in the vicinity of Urmia. In the southwestern Iranian province of Khuzestan, most people speak Khuzestani Persian, Khuzestani Arabic, and Standard Persian, sometimes in addition to their own community languages such as Lur, Qashqa'i, Domari or Mandaic where applicable.
  • In Iraq, Arabic is the official language of the state, Kurdish is the official language of the north where 4 million native speakers live. The use of Turkmen, Assyrian, and Armenian in education is provided for in the Constitution.[155] Other languages also exist among Christian communities north of and around Baghdad, such as Aramaic.
  • In Israel, Hebrew has the official status of the state's language and Arabic - a special status with protection of its pre-2018 functions[156] (see Languages of Israel). Jewish immigrants to Israel (especially from Europe) have a different mother tongue, such as Arabic, Amharic, Yiddish, Ladino, Russian, Romanian, Polish, Ukrainian, English, or French and many Jewish immigrants from Latin America speak Spanish and Portuguese. The native Arab population of Palestine speaks Arabic. Functionally, almost all Arabs in Palestine also speak Hebrew. English is widely spoken and understood as a second language by both Arabs and Jews. Officially, road signs must be in Arabic, Hebrew, and a romanized Hebrew transliteration.
  • In Lebanon, Arabic is the official and national language; the Constitution provides for the conditions of using French to be provided by law.[157] Many Lebanese are fluent in English and in French.[citation needed] Armenian is also a language mainly used in the Armenian community.[158]
  • Syria:
    • Rojava: the constitution of the de facto autonomous region designates Kurdish, Arabic and Syriac as official languages.[159]
  • United Arab Emirates: Arabic is the official language of the country, although English is an unofficial language it is widely accepted as the lingua franca as over 89% of the population is migrant. Almost everyone has a working knowledge of English. All road signs are written in both Arabic and English. English is the dominant in higher education and is a required ability for most local jobs. English is a compulsory subject in all public schools and is the language of instruction for mathematics and science.[160]

Europe[edit]

Central Europe[edit]

  • Austria has one official language, German. However it also has Croatian and Slovenian minorities, all of whose languages are protected under federal laws.[161] Certain functions are also guaranteed for Romany, Hungarian, Czech and Slovakian in Vienna and Burgenland, under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[162]
  • In the Czech Republic, several municipalities of Zaolzie area have official bilingualism (Czech and Polish).[162] Bilingual signs are permitted if a minority constitutes at least a 10% of the population of the municipality.
  • Germany has German as its official national language. Low Saxon (“Low German”) is recognized as a regional language in at least five north German states. Low Rhenish is recognized in Northrhine-Westphalia. Lower Sorbian is an official minority language in Brandenburg, Upper Sorbian in Saxony, Sater Frisian in a part of Lower Saxony, and North Frisian varieties and Danish in Schleswig-Holstein. A language without its own territory, Romany (including the language of the Sinte people) is an official minority language as well.[162] Germany is home to large numbers of people from other regions, and some of their languages, such as Turkish, Russian, and Polish, are widely used throughout the country. However, those languages are considered foreign and thus are given no official status.
  • Hungary, the official language is Hungarian. The country recognizes Beás, Croatian, German, Romani, Romanian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene languages.[162] Use of those languages for certain functions is provided for by law, applying to localitites where the share of a relevant minority exceeds 10% or, for wider functions, 20%.[163]
  • Poland — 20 bilingual communes in Poland (mostly Polish-German) speak forms of the German language. Belarusian, Czech, Hebrew, Yiddish, Lithuanian, German, Armenian, Russian, Slovak and Ukrainian are recognised as national minorities languages while Karaim, Lemko, Romani and Tatar as ethnic minorities languages.[162][164]
  • Slovakia has a Hungarian minority of 520,000 (9.7%). Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, German, Serbian, Hungarian, Polish, Roma, Russian, Ruthenian and Ukrainian languages are recognized as regional or minority languages, with guarantees of their use in municipalities where Slovak citizens belonging to the national minorities form at least 20% of the population.[162]
  • Switzerland has four national languages; German, French, Italian and Romansh.[165] The cantons Valais, Fribourg and Bern are bilingual (French and German), while canton Graubünden is trilingual (German, Romansh and Italian).

Eastern Europe[edit]

Northern Europe[edit]

Southern Europe[edit]

  • Italy. The official language overall is Italian. However, the Italian law n. 482/1999 recognizes and protects twelve minority languages, like Sardinian, Friulian, Occitan, Greek, Albanian and other linguistic minorities.[192] Bilingualism is also applied in some territories:
    • In the province of South Tyrol German is co-official.[193]
    • In the Aosta Valley region French is co-official,[194]
    • as is Slovene in some municipalities of the provinces of Trieste and Gorizia.
    • Ladin municipalities of South Tyrol are trilingual (Italian, Ladin, and German).
    • In Veneto, there is a regional law on Venetian linguistic and cultural heritage.[195] In 2016, an additional law has been adopted, providing for the use of Venetian in schools, public institutions and toponymical signs.[196]
    • In Calabria, there is a regional law on minority languages, with Greek, Albanian and Franco-Provençal specifically named[197]
    • In Piedmont, there is a regional law on promoting linguistic heritage, with Occitan, German, French and Franco-Provençal minorities specifically named.[198]
    • In Sardinia, a 2018 law establishes detailed status for Sardinian, and gives official recognition to Catalan in Alghero and to Gallurese, Tabarchino and Sassarese[199][200]
  • Malta has two official languages, Maltese and English.[201] Italian is also spoken by a large percentage of the population.

Southeastern Europe[edit]

  • Albania has one official language, Albanian. Other languages such as Greek and Italian are heavily spoken without official recognition, yet are minority languages. Albania recognises[citation needed] 6 minorities languages; Serbo-Croatian, Macedonian, Romanian, Hungarian, Greek and Italian. Majority Albanians are polyglots, speaking more than 3 languages, which is due to the high amount of Albanian immigrants in Europe and elsewhere, as well as political, socio-cultural relations with their neighbours. Today, Albanians are considered one of the most linguistically diverse peoples in Europe. Italian is spoken by a large amount of Albanians that have learnt the language by watching Italian television. Influx of Greeks in the country due to the Euro Crisis is elevating the status of Greek in the country. Albania is also part of the Francophonie, with 320,000 French speakers.
  • Cyprus has 2 official languages: Greek & Turkish.[202] Both languages were spoken throughout the island before 1974. After 1974, and the partition of the island, Turkish became the sole official language in the Turkish-Cypriot-controlled north whereas the - internationally recognized - Republic of Cyprus retains both languages as official. English is also widely spoken and understood throughout the island.
  • Moldova — the Law concerning the rights of persons belonging to the national minorities and the legal status of the organizations thereof provides for using Moldovan and Russian in tertiary education, communication with authorities and publishing regulatory acts. It also provides for use of Ukrainian, Gagauz, Bulgarian, Hebrew, Yiddish and other (unnamed) languages in education.[203]
  • In Romania, the official language is Romanian, but significant minority languages are recognized on the local level, with commitments made in respect of use of Bulgarian, Czech, Croatian, German, Hungarian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, Turkish and Ukrainian in areas where the share of their speakers is at least 20%.[162] The biggest ethnic minority is the Hungarian community of 1.4 million (6.6%).
  • In Turkey, the Constitution of Turkey defines Turkish as the only official language of the country (art. 3) and explicitly prohibits educational institutions to teach any language other than Turkish as a mother tongue to Turkish citizens (art. 42). In 2013, the Ministry of Education included Kurdish, Abkhaz, Adyghe and Laz languages to the academic programme of the basic schools as optional classes from the fifth year on.[206]
    • In 2010, Kurdish municipalities in the southeast decided to begin printing water bills, marriage certificates and construction and road signs, as well as emergency, social and cultural notices in Kurdish alongside Turkish. Friday sermons by Imams began to be delivered in the language, and Esnaf provided Kurdish price tags.[207] Before August 2002, the Turkish government placed severe restrictions on the use of Kurdish language, prohibiting the language in education and broadcast media.[208][209] In March 2006, Turkey allowed private television channels to begin airing programming in Kurdish. However, the Turkish government said that they must avoid showing children's cartoons, or educational programs that teach Kurdish, and could broadcast only for 45 minutes a day or four hours a week.[210] However, most of these restrictions on private Kurdish television channels were relaxed in September 2009.[211]
  • In most countries of the Former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, Serbian, Croatian, and Bosnian are understood by all three groups (see Serbo-Croatian) - and smaller languages in the other republics of Slovenia (Slovenian), Macedonia (Macedonian) and (Montenegro) Montenegrin. Other languages have co-official status in some parts of these countries (e.g. Italian in Istria, Hungarian in Vojvodina).
    • Kosovo has two official languages, Albanian and Serbian. Turkish, Bosnian, and Roma hold official status on a regional level.[212]
    • Serbia: There are seven officially used languages in Vojvodina (Serbian, Croatian, Romanian, Ruthenian, Hungarian, Slovak and Czech), and four in central Serbia (Serbian, Bosnian, Albanian and Bulgarian).[213] The northern autonomous province of Vojvodina has a multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual identity, with a number of mechanisms for the promotion of minority rights; there are more than 26 ethnic groups in the province. The province has six official languages. Some Serbs are recognised as fluent polyglot, many of them being able to speak German, French and English, due to the huge amount of Serbian immigrants in Europe, especially in Austria, Germany and France, whilst English is quite popular due to the large Serbian immigrant community in Australia and Canada.

Southwestern Europe[edit]

Western Europe[edit]

  • Belgium has three official languages: Dutch (59%) in the north, French (31%) in the south and a small minority speaks German. Its bilingual capital, Brussels (10%), is mainly French, with Dutch as minority. These languages have the status of 'official language' only in specified language areas as defined by the constitution.[223] In Flanders, 59% and 53% of the Flemings know French or English respectively; in Wallonia, only 19% and 17% know Dutch or English. In each region, Belgium's third official language, German, is notably less known than Dutch, French or English.[224] Wallonia recognises all of its vernacular dialect groups as regional languages, Flanders does not.[citation needed]
  • France has a strict monolingual policy for the republic to conduct government business only in French. There are, however, levels of fluency in regional languages: Alsatian, Basque (co-official), Breton (the regional government of Britanny adopted some politics to promote teaching Breton[225]), Catalan (the department of Pyrénées-Orientales has a particular charter for supporting Catalan[226]), Corsican (Corsican teaching in the island's schools is provided for by law)[227]), Flemish, Franco-Provençal, and Occitan (sometimes called Provençal). The country as whole is dominated by French linguistically.
  • Ireland, the first official language of Ireland is Irish, with the second being English.[228] English is the first language of the majority of the population.
  • Luxembourg is a rare example of a truly trilingual society, in that it not only has three official languages – Luxembourgish, French and German[229] – but has a trilingual education system. For the first four years of school, Luxembourgish is the medium of instruction, before giving way to German, which in turn gives way to French. (In addition, children learn English and sometimes another European language, usually Spanish or Italian.) Similarly in the country's parliament, debates are conducted in Luxembourgish, draft legislation is drafted in German, while the statute laws are in French.
  • The Netherlands has four official languages. Dutch is the primary language, and West Frisian is recognized as a minority language[162] and spoken by between 300,000 and 700,000 people. West Frisian is mostly spoken in the province of Fryslân, where it is the official first[citation needed] language. Low Saxon is recognized as a regional language in the northeast of the country, and Limburgish is an official regional language in Netherlands Limburg.[162] In Amsterdam, certain services are provided in English; English is official in the Dutch municipalities of Saba and Sint Eustatius. The fourth official language is Papiamento, spoken on Bonaire.[230]
  • The only national language of the United Kingdom is English, however there are several regional languages recognised:
    • Wales: 611,000 Welsh speakers, including the majority of the population in parts of north and west Wales.[231] English is widely used. Across Wales, both English and Welsh have equal official status; the priority given to each, for instance on road signs, is determined by each local authority.[232]
    • Northern Ireland: Ulster Scots, a variety of Scots, is spoken by some in Northern Ireland, but again English is far more commonly used and Ulster Scots is less actively used in media. Irish and Ulster Scots now both have official[specify] status in Northern Ireland as part of the 1998 Belfast Agreement;[233] certain functions are granted to those two languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages.[162]
    • Scotland: 58,652 Gaelic speakers, mostly concentrated in the Highlands and the Hebrides, the traditional heartland of Gaelic culture. The Gaelic Language (Scotland) Act 2005 provides for the status of the Gaelic language as an official language of Scotland commanding equal respect to the English language.[234] Also Scots with approximately 2 to 3 million speakers — a Germanic language closely related to English.
    • Cornwall: After two centuries of extinction, Cornish was revived in the region in the early 20th century.
    • Jersey: along with English, use of French for petitioning the parliament is provided for by its Standing Orders.[235]

Oceania[edit]

  • Australia - Australian English is the de facto official language of Australia. Auslan is recognised by the Australian Government and is spoken by many Australian deaf people. Australian Aboriginal languages, of which there are approximately 290-363, have recognition – though only a few are popularly spoken by Australian Indigenous people, including: Wiradjuri, Pitjantjatjara, Kalaw Lagaw Ya, Ngaanyatjarra, Warlpiri and Australian Kriol. Many government departments and agencies, as well as private services, have adopted the use of Mandarin Chinese as a de facto second language, reflecting Australia's large Chinese population and strong trade and diplomatic ties to China.
  • Fiji — Fijian, English and Hindi (Fiji dialect) (All official)[236] Tongan and Tuvaluan are also spoken.
  • Kiribati — Kiribati and English (official); Kiribati is the majority language,[237] English language is the prevailing language for constitutional text[238]
  • Marshall Islands — Marshalese and English (both official)[239]
  • Micronesia - English (official) but each state has its own regional language: Chuukese (Chuuk), Kosraean (Kosrae), Pohnpeian (Pohnpei), and Yapese (Yap). In addition other language such as Pingelapese, Ngatikese, Satawalese, Puluwatese, Mortlockese, Mokilese, Ulithian, Woleaian, Nukuoro, and Kapingamarangi are recognized.[240]
  • New Caledonia — French and Kanak languages[241]
  • New Zealand — a small percentage of the population has some reasonable degree of bilingualism in English and Māori, mostly among the Māori themselves; few are fully fluent in Māori.[specify] New Zealand Sign Language has also an official status. English is the main language, with over 96% of the population speaking it fluently. Maori has been recognized as official since 1987.[242]
    • Cook Islands — Cook Islands Maori and English.[243]
    • Niue — Niuean and English.[244]
  • Palau — Palauan traditional languages are the national languages. Palauan and English are the official languages.[245]
  • Papua New Guinea — Tok Pisin (official), English (official), Hiri Motu (official), some 836 indigenous languages spoken[246]
  • Rapa Nui (Easter Island) — Rapa Nui along with Chilean Spanish are the 2 co-official languages of the island.
  • Samoa — Samoan and English[247]
  • Tonga — Tongan and English (both official)[248]
  • Tuvalu — Tuvaluan and English (both official)[249]
  • Vanuatu — the national language is Bislama, a creole language or pidgin English and French, which is also an official language alongside English and French.[250] There are also over 110 local vernacular languages distinct to this island archipelago.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Kosovo is the subject of a territorial dispute between the Republic of Kosovo and the Republic of Serbia. The Republic of Kosovo unilaterally declared independence on 17 February 2008, but Serbia continues to claim it as part of its own sovereign territory. The two governments began to normalise relations in 2013, as part of the Brussels Agreement. Kosovo has received formal recognition as an independent state from 113 out of 193 United Nations member states.

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