Official language

An official language is a language given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a country's official language refers to the language used within government (judiciary, legislature, administration).[1] Since "the means of expression of a people cannot be changed by any law",[2] the term "official language" does not typically refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government.[3]

About half the countries of the world have declared one or more official languages. The government of Italy officialised Italian only in 1999,[4] and some nations (such as the United States) have never declared official languages at the national level.[5] Other nations have declared non-indigenous official languages. "The Philippines and parts of Africa live with a peculiar cultural paradox. Although the official languages [in Africa] may be French or English, these are not the languages most widely spoken by [the country's] residents."[6]

Worldwide, 178 countries have at least one official language, and 101 of these countries recognise more than one language. Many of the world's constitutions mention one or more official or national languages.[7][8] Some countries use the official language designation to empower indigenous groups by giving them access to the government in their native languages. In countries that do not formally designate an official language, a de facto national language usually evolves. English is the most common official language, with recognized status in 51 countries. Arabic, French, and Spanish are also widely recognized.

An official language that is also an indigenous language is called endoglossic, one that is not indigenous is exoglossic.[9] An instance is Nigeria which has three endoglossic official languages. By this the country aims to protect the indigenous languages although at the same time recognising the English language as its lingua franca.

History

Around 500 BC, when Darius the Great annexed Mesopotamia to the Persian Empire, he chose a form of the Aramaic language (the so-called Official Aramaic or Imperial Aramaic) as the vehicle for written communication between the different regions of the vast empire with its different peoples and languages.[citation needed] Aramaic script was widely employed from Egypt in the southwest to Bactria and Sogdiana in the northeast. Texts were dictated in the native dialects and written down in Aramaic, and then read out again in the native language at the places they were received.[10]

The First Emperor of Qin standardized the written language of China after unifying the country in 221 BC.[11] Classical Chinese would remain the standard written language for the next 2000 years. Standardization of the spoken language received less political attention, and Mandarin developed on an ad hoc basis from the dialects of the various imperial capitals until being officially standardized in the early twentieth century.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Amptelike taal
Alemannisch: Amtssprache
አማርኛ: የስራ ቋንቋ
العربية: لغة رسمية
aragonés: Idioma oficial
asturianu: Llingua oficial
azərbaycanca: Dövlət dili
Bahasa Banjar: Bahasa rasmi
Bân-lâm-gú: Koaⁿ-hong gí-giân
башҡортса: Рәсми тел
беларуская: Афіцыйная мова
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Афіцыйная мова
български: Официален език
Boarisch: Amtssproch
bosanski: Službeni jezik
brezhoneg: Yezh ofisiel
čeština: Úřední jazyk
Deutsch: Amtssprache
ދިވެހިބަސް: ރަސްމީ ބަސް
Ελληνικά: Επίσημη γλώσσα
español: Idioma oficial
Esperanto: Oficiala lingvo
estremeñu: Luenga oficial
فارسی: زبان رسمی
Gàidhlig: Cànan Oifigeil
客家語/Hak-kâ-ngî: Kôn-fông ngî-ngièn
한국어: 공용어
हिन्दी: राजभाषा
hrvatski: Službeni jezik
Bahasa Indonesia: Bahasa resmi
interlingua: Lingua official
עברית: שפה רשמית
Basa Jawa: Basa resmi
ಕನ್ನಡ: ರಾಜಭಾಷೆ
къарачай-малкъар: Официал тил
қазақша: Ресми тіл
Kiswahili: Lugha rasmi
Кыргызча: Расмий тил
latviešu: Valsts valoda
Lëtzebuergesch: Offiziell Sprooch
Limburgs: Officieel taol
македонски: Службен јазик
मराठी: राजभाषा
მარგალური: სახენწჷფო ნინა
مازِرونی: رسمی زوون
Bahasa Melayu: Bahasa rasmi
Baso Minangkabau: Bahaso rasmi
Nāhuatl: Tecpantlahtolli
Nederlands: Officiële taal
日本語: 公用語
Napulitano: Lengua ufficiale
norsk nynorsk: Offisielt språk
олык марий: Кугыжаныш йылме
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Davlat tili
پښتو: رسمي ژبه
ភាសាខ្មែរ: ភាសាផ្លូវការ
Plattdüütsch: Amtsspraak
português: Língua oficial
qırımtatarca: Resmiy til
Runa Simi: Tukri simi
саха тыла: Ил тыл
Seeltersk: Amtssproake
sicilianu: Lingua ufficiali
Simple English: Official language
slovenčina: Úradný jazyk
slovenščina: Uradni jezik
ślůnski: Urzyndowo godka
српски / srpski: Службени језик
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Službeni jezik
Basa Sunda: Basa resmi
татарча/tatarça: Рәсми тел
Türkçe: Resmî dil
українська: Державна мова
吴语: 官方語言
粵語: 法定語言
žemaitėška: Valstībėnė ruoda
中文: 官方语言