In this country, despite our multicultural make up, we have only one Official Language for our 60 or so million inhabitants. That language is, unless you’re from Barnsley, English. The minority languages recognized on these shores are Welsh, Irish, Scottish Gaelic, Lowland Scots and Cornish and rather suprisingly do not include any Asian languages, despite a long history of immigrants from that area.
Punjabi, Gujarati, Hindi and Urdu are all spoken here, as well as many others, and, although there are no official figures detailing numbers of speakers, I hazard a guess that they would be more numerate than their Welsh counterparts, so why no inclusion as an official language of this country?
An official language is labeled as such for one of a few reasons: either to preserve under represented languages in their respective contemporary societies – Maori, in New Zealand, for example – or as the language in which a countries legal, parliamentary and administrative affairs are conducted.
But which country leads the way when it comes to official languages? Well, South Africa has eleven official languages (and incredibly, therefore, there are eleven official names for the country), all of which are listed here with the name used for each language,and the name of speakers of that language, in brackets:
Afrikaans (Afrikaans), English, Ndebele (isiNdebele), Northern Sotho (Sesotho sa Leboa), Sotho (Sesotho), Swati (siSwati), Tsonga (Xitsonga), Tswana (Setswana), Venda (Tshivenḓa), Xhosa (isiXhosa), Zulu (isiZulu).
And just for you reference, the official names for South Africa are:
Republiek van Suid-Afrika (Afrikaans)
Republic of South Africa (English)
IRiphabliki yeSewula Afrika (IsiNdebele)
IRiphabliki yaseMzantsi Afrika (IsiXhosa)
IRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika (IsiZulu)
Rephaboliki ya Afrika-Borwa (Sepedi)
Rephaboliki ya Afrika Borwa (Sesotho)
Rephaboliki ya Aforika Borwa (Setswana)
IRiphabhulikhi yeNingizimu Afrika (SiSwati)
Riphabuḽiki ya Afurika Tshipembe (Tshivenda)
Riphabliki ra Afrika Dzonga (Xitsonga)
Do you live in a country with a lingua franca, such as Arabic in areas of North Africa? Would you you prefer all the languages of your country to be officially recognised?
25 November 2008 11:13