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.
C.M.B. Brann, with particular reference to India, suggests that there are "four quite distinctive meanings" for national language in a polity:
- "Territorial language" (chthonolect, sometimes known as chtonolect) 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.
- ^ "Jacques Leclerc". Archived from the original on 28 May 2019. Retrieved 15 December 2015.
- ^ Brann, C.M.B. 1994. "The National Language Question: Concepts and Terminology." Logos [University of Namibia, Windhoek] Vol 14: 125–134
- ^ Wolff, H. Ekkehard "African Languages: An Introduction Ch./Art: Language and Society p. 321 pub. Cambridge University Press 2000