[lg policy] national vs officila language

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at GMAIL.COM
Tue Nov 20 15:33:11 UTC 2012


This is a confusing topic, and I don't think there's a way to lock down a
definition.
In India, e.g. Hindi is the "national" language, but not the only
"official" one, since English is also co-official at the national level.
Then there are the "official" languages of various states, a lot of them.

HS


On Tue, Nov 20, 2012 at 12:08 AM, <dzo at bisharat.net> wrote:

> I don't have access to Fishman's article at this time either, but hope
> it's okay to offer some impressions on use of the terms.
>
> As varied as the definitions of "offIcial language" may be (that subject
> has been a matter of discussion on this list), usage of "national language"
> seems even more varied and less exact.
>
> In addition to the definition mentioned by Dr. Mostari, "national
> language" may also be a category of language defined by law alongside
> "official language." This is the case in a number of African countries for
> example (notably in former French colonies). This usage has been omitted
> from some discussions of the term that I've seen.
>
> On the other hand, I have heard foreigners - again in Africa - refer to
> the official language as being the national language (meaning presumably
> that the former is intended to be used nationwide?). This sort of
> conflation of the two concepts seems to me to be fairly common.
>
> Returning to national language as a legal category in Africa, some
> countries so designate a few of the more widely spoken, while some others
> include all (indigenously spoken) languages of their population, which
> would indeed mean that some with very few speakers are considered "national
> languages."
>
> My understanding is that "national" in this context depends on how one
> means the term. Clearly "national" is not necessarily the same as
> nationwide. But it could mean that it is part of or belongs to the nation,
> even if in the case of many languages, only a minority of the population
> speaks it.
>
> Brann (1994) discusses the terminology in more detail, including 4
> meanings of "national language," and relationship to other terms. Citation
> below; there is a summary of main points on the Wikipedia article on the
> subject. (Probably should be a summary of Fishman's article there too.)
>
> Brann, C.M.B. 1994. "The National Language Question: Concepts and
> Terminology." Logos [University of Namibia, Windhoek] Vol 14: 125–134
>
> HTH,
>
> Don Osborn
>
> Sent via BlackBerry by AT&T
>
> -----Original Message-----
> From: mostari hind <hmostari at yahoo.com>
> Sender: lgpolicy-list-bounces+dzo=bisharat.net at groups.sas.upenn.edu
> Date: Mon, 19 Nov 2012 11:50:40
> To: Language Policy List<lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
> Reply-To: Language Policy List <lgpolicy-list at groups.sas.upenn.edu>
> Subject: RE: [lg policy] national vs officila language
>
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-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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