Difference Between National And Official Language

 One often hears the terms “Official language” and “National language” when dealing with the tasks of translation. Are they both one or same? Should translator be aware when they translate which version or language they need to use, or is that something the client should specify when giving instructions for a translation task?

What is an official language?

Generally, an official language of a specific country is the language of the government. And in Some of Countries there may, for linguistic and Historical reasons, be more than 1 official language. In Canada, for Instance, there are 2 official languages, English and French Language. In many regions of Canada, government Information and notices will be in both French and English, to reflect the importance of both languages, even though French language is widely used by Canadians in Quebec, while English Language tends to predominate elsewhere. In the Country of New Zealand, both English and Maori are recognized as official languages, despite the fact that the use of Maori language has been reducing now for many decades.

However in many countries of the World have only one official language, though.  The official language of Australia, for instance, is only English Language, even though there were lot of indigenous languages used widely in the country of Australia before British colonization and there are many different languages spoken by minority groups in the Country of Australia, reflecting a diverse source of migration.

What is a national language?

A national language of a Specific Country is a language that has Cultural and historical significance in that country. In Some Countries National Language is also the Official language of Country, but not always, the same as the official language. In some countries around the World, like Australia, there is no national language. This is partly because when colonists 1st camed in what we now call Australia, there were a lot of different indigenous languages, often mutually unintelligible, that it was impossible to Choose 1 that truly represented the indigenous population, past and present.

A national language is a language that has Cultural or socio-political significance in that country. It might be an Official Language of that specific Country or It might not be the same as the official language. National languages In any Country are often the languages of the indigenous or Original people of a country and this is recognized in their languages, Even though In many Countries around the World these National languages are less used today in everyday communication.

The difference between an official language and a National Language

The difference between the an Official language and a national language is well illustrated by the island state of Singapore. Singapore has 4 official languages which are English, Malay, Chinese, and Hindi. The English language of Singapore represents the historical colonial link with Britain and the rest of 3 languages belong to the 3 main ethnic groups in Singapore. All 4 Official languages are used by the government of Singapore, but only one language, Malay, is the national language of Singapore. This has been chosen as Official language In Singapore because it is the first language used by the first community to reside on the island before the arrival of British colonial influence.

Generally, it is the official language that is used by government agencies, Higher Authorities and Institutes, like schools, but the national language may still be used in cultural or ceremonial situations.

What are de facto and de jure languages?

The 2 terms “de facto” and “de jure” have legal significance. This is the Only One difference A de facto language may be the most common language used in a community but has no legal basis for its use. A “de jure” language has legal significance. 


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