Regional language

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"Local language" redirects here. For the concept in formal language theory, see Local language (formal language).

A regional language is a language spoken in an area of a sovereign state, whether it be a small area, a federal state or province, or some wider area.

Internationally, for the purposes of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, "regional or minority languages" means languages that are:

  1. traditionally used within a given territory of a State by nationals of that State who form a group numerically smaller than the rest of the State's population; and
  2. different from the official language(s) of that State[1]

Recognition of regional or minority languages must not be confused with recognition as an official language.

Influence of number of speakers[edit]

There are many cases when a regional language can claim greater numbers of speakers than certain languages which happen to be official languages of sovereign states. For example, Catalan (a regional language of Spain, Italy and France, albeit the national language of Andorra) has more speakers than Finnish or Danish. A similar situation exists in China, where Wu, spoken in southern Jiangsu, northern, and the general area of Shanghai Zhejiang by more than 90 million speakers, is spoken natively by more speakers than French; Yue Chinese, a Chinese regional variety spoken in Guangdong, Hong Kong and nearby areas in China with more than 60 million local and overseas speakers (North America, parts of Malaysia), outnumbers Italian in number of speakers. Dialects of the Min dialect group have over 70 million speakers, mainly in Fujian and in nearby Taiwan, but also in the Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia and Singapore.

Relationship with official languages[edit]

In some cases, a regional language may be closely related to the state's main language or official language. For example:

In other cases, a regional language may be very different from the state's main language or official language. For example:

Official languages as regional languages[edit]

An official language of a country may also be spoken as a regional language in a region of a neighbouring country. For example:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages". Council of Europe. Retrieved 11 March 2015.