National language

A national language is a language (or language variant, e.g. dialect) that has some connection—de facto or de jure—with a nation. There is little consistency in the use of this term. One or more languages spoken as first languages in the territory of a country may be referred to informally or designated in legislation as national languages of the country. National languages are mentioned in over 150 world constitutions.[1]

C.M.B. Brann, with particular reference to India, suggests that there are "four quite distinctive meanings" for national language in a polity:[2]

  • "Territorial language" (chthonolect, sometimes known as chtonolect[3]) 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.

The last is usually given the title of official language. In some cases (e.g., the Philippines), several languages are designated as official and a national language is separately designated.


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