A minority language is a language spoken by a minority of the population of a territory. Such people are termed linguistic minorities or language minorities. With a total number of 196 sovereign states recognized internationally (as of 2019) and an estimated number of roughly 5,000 to 7,000 languages spoken worldwide, it follows that the vast majority of languages are minority languages in every country in which they are spoken. Some minority languages are simultaneously also official languages, including the Irish language in Ireland. Likewise, some national languages are often considered minority languages, insofar as they are the national language of a stateless nation.
For the purposes of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages:
In most European countries the minority languages are defined by legislation or constitutional documents and afforded some form of official support. In 1992, Council of Europe adopted European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe.
The signatories that have not yet ratified it as of 2012 are Azerbaijan, France, Iceland, Ireland (since Irish is the first official language and there are no other minority languages), Italy, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, and Russia.
In Canada the term appears in the Constitution of Canada in the heading above section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees official language minority communities educational rights. In Canada, the term "minority language" is generally understood to mean whichever of the official languages is less spoken in a particular province or territory (i.e., English in Québec, French elsewhere).
Minority languages may be marginalised within nations for a number of reasons. These include having a relatively small number of speakers, a decline in the number of speakers, and popular belief of them as uncultured, primitive, or simple dialects when compared to the dominant language. Support for minority languages is sometimes viewed as supporting separatism, for example the ongoing revival of the Celtic languages (Irish, Welsh, Scottish Gaelic, Manx, Cornish and Breton). Immigrant minority languages are often also seen as a threat and as indicative of the non-integration of these communities. Both of these perceived threats are based on the notion of the exclusion of the majority language speakers. Often this is added to by political systems by not providing support (such as education and policing) in these languages.
Speakers of majority languages can and do learn minority languages, through the large number of courses available. It is not known whether most students of minority languages are members of the minority community re-connecting with the community's language, or others seeking to become familiar with it.
There is a difference of views as to whether the protection of official languages by a state representing the majority speakers violates or not the human rights of minority speakers. In March 2013, Rita Izsák, UN Independent Expert on minority issues, said that "protection of linguistic minority rights is a human rights obligation and an essential component of good governance, efforts to prevent tensions and conflict, and the construction of equal and politically and socially stable societies".
In Slovakia for example, the Hungarian community generally considers the 'language law' enacted in 1995 discriminative and inconsistent with the European Charter for the Protection of Regional or Minority languages, while majority Slovakians view that minority speakers' rights are guaranteed in accordance with the highest European standards and not discriminated against by the preferential status of the state language. The language law declares that "the Slovakian language enjoys a preferential status over other languages spoken on the territory of the Slovakian Republic" and as a result of a 2009 amendment, a fine of up to €5,000 may be imposed for a misdemeanor from the regulations protecting the preferential status of the state language, e.g. if the name of a shop or a business is indicated on a sign-board first in the minority language and only after it in Slovakian, or if in a bilingual text the minority language part is written with bigger fonts than its Slovakian equivalent, or if the bilingual text on a monument is translated from the minority language to the dominant language and not vice versa, or if a civil servant or doctor communicates with a minority speaker citizen in a minority language in a local community where the proportion of the minority speakers is less than 20%.
Sign languages are often not recognized as true natural languages even though they are supported by extensive research.
Speakers of auxiliary languages have also struggled for their recognition, perhaps partly because they are used primarily as second languages and have few native speakers.
Languages that have the status of a national language and are spoken by the majority population in at least one country, but lack recognition in countries where there is a significant minority linguistic community:
Linguistic communities that form no majority in any country, but whose language has the status of an official language in at least one country:
A treasure language is one of the thousands of small languages still spoken in the world today. The term was proposed by the Rama people of Nicaragua as an alternative to heritage language, indigenous language, and "ethnic language", names that are considered pejorative in the local context. The term is now also used in the context of public storytelling events.
The term "treasure language" references the desire of speakers to sustain the use of their mother tongue into the future:
[The] notion of treasure fit the idea of something that had been buried and almost lost, but was being rediscovered and now shown and shared. And the word treasure also evoked the notion of something belonging exclusively to the Rama people, who now attributed it real value and had become eager and proud of being able to show it to others.
Accordingly, the term is distinct from endangered language for which objective criteria are available, or heritage language which describes an end-state for a language where individuals are more fluent in a dominant language.
Education in Latvia is free and compulsory. Compulsory education includes two years of preschool education (usually starting at 5 years old) and a further nine years of elementary education (usually until 15/16 years of age).In 1996, the gross primary enrollment rate was 95.8 percent, while the net primary enrollment rate was 89.5 percent. The number of children who do not attend primary school was increasing as of 2001. In rural areas, a number of schools have been closed. The place allocated to minority languages in secondary education after the 2004 minority school transfer to bilingual education (60% in Latvian and 40% in the minority language) was an issue of protests in 2003-2004 and was opposed by Russian School Defense Staff and Association in Support of Russian Language Schools.According to 2010 data from UNESCO, 4,720 students from Latvia were enrolled in tertiary education abroad (mostly in the UK, Russia and Germany); 1,760 students from other countries were enrolled in tertiary education in Latvia (mostly from Russia, Ukraine and Lithuania.Geographical distribution of German speakers
This article details the geographical distribution of speakers of the German language, regardless of the legislative status within the countries where it is spoken. In addition to the German-speaking area (Deutscher Sprachraum) in Europe, German-speaking minorities are present in many countries and on all six inhabited continents.
Mostly depending on the inclusion or exclusion of certain varieties with a disputed status as separate languages (e.g., Low German/Plautdietsch), it is estimated that approximately 90–95 million people speak German as a first language, 10-25 million as a second language, and 75–100 million as a foreign language. This would imply approximately 175-220 million German speakers worldwide.Greek language
Greek (Modern Greek: ελληνικά elliniká) is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages, native to Greece, Cyprus and other parts of the Eastern Mediterranean and the Black Sea. It has the longest documented history of any living Indo-European language, spanning more than 3000 years of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the major part of its history; other systems, such as Linear B and the Cypriot syllabary, were used previously. The alphabet arose from the Phoenician script and was in turn the basis of the Latin, Cyrillic, Armenian, Coptic, Gothic, and many other writing systems.
The Greek language holds an important place in the history of the Western world and Christianity; the canon of ancient Greek literature includes works in the Western canon such as the epic poems Iliad and Odyssey. Greek is also the language in which many of the foundational texts in science, especially astronomy, mathematics and logic and Western philosophy, such as the Platonic dialogues and the works of Aristotle, are composed; the New Testament of the Christian Bible was written in Koiné Greek. Together with the Latin texts and traditions of the Roman world, the study of the Greek texts and society of antiquity constitutes the discipline of Classics.
During antiquity, Greek was a widely spoken lingua franca in the Mediterranean world, West Asia and many places beyond. It would eventually become the official parlance of the Byzantine Empire and develop into Medieval Greek. In its modern form, Greek is the official language in two countries, Greece and Cyprus, a recognised minority language in seven other countries, and is one of the 24 official languages of the European Union. The language is spoken by at least 13.2 million people today in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, Albania, Turkey, and the Greek diaspora.
Greek roots are often used to coin new words for other languages; Greek and Latin are the predominant sources of international scientific vocabulary.Itapiranga, Santa Catarina
Itapiranga is the westernmost municipality in the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina.Language education
Language education refers to the process and practice of acquiring a second or foreign language. It is primarily a branch of applied linguistics, however can be considered an interdisciplinary field. There are four main learning categories for language education: communicative competencies, proficiencies, cross-cultural experiences, and multiple literacies.Languages of Hungary
The languages spoken in Hungary include Hungarian, recognized minority languages and other languages.Languages of Iceland
Iceland has been a very isolated and linguistically homogeneous island historically, but has nevertheless been home to several languages. Gaelic was the native language to many of the early Icelanders. Although the Icelandic or Norse language prevails, northern trade routes brought German, English, Dutch, French and Basque to Iceland. Some merchants and clergymen settled in Iceland throughout the centuries, leaving their mark on culture, but linguistically mainly trade, nautical, and religious terms. Excluding these and Latin words, Icelandic has been altered remarkably little since settlement.
Icelandic is not only the national language, but is now “the official language in Iceland” by virtue of Act No 61/2011, adopted by parliament in 2011. Icelandic Sign Language was also officially recognised by law in 2011 as a minority language with constitutional rights and the first language of the Icelandic deaf community. During the time of Danish rule, Danish was a minority language in Iceland, although it is nowadays only spoken by a small number of immigrants.
Studying English and Danish (or another Scandinavian language) is mandatory for students in compulsory schools and also part of many secondary-level study programmes, so knowledge of the two languages is widespread. Other foreign languages frequently studied include German, Spanish and French.
Temporary visitors and residents often make up a large portion of the population, especially in the capital Reykjavík.Languages of Texas
Of the languages spoken in Texas none has been designated the official language. Around two-thirds of Texas residents speak solely English at home, while another 29.10% speak Spanish. Throughout the history of Texas, English and Spanish have at one time or another been the primary dominant language used by government officials, with German recognized as a minority language from Statehood until the first world war.List of countries where Arabic is an official language
Arabic and its different dialects are spoken by around 422 million speakers (native and non-native) in the Arab world as well as in the Arab diaspora making it one of the five most spoken languages in the world. Currently, 22 countries are member states of the Arab League (as well as 5 countries were granted an observer status) which was founded in Cairo in 1945. Arabic is classified as a macrolanguage comprising 30 modern varieties, including its standard form.Arabic is the lingua franca of people who live in countries of the Arab world as well as of Arabs who live in the diaspora, particularly in Latin America (especially Brazil and Argentina) or Western Europe (like France, Spain, Germany or Italy).
Cypriot Arabic is an recognized minority language in the EU member state Cyprus and is the only European variety of Arabic within the Arabic macrolanguage.Maltese is the only fully separate standardized language to have originated from an Arabic dialect (the extinct Sicilian Arabic dialect), with independent literary norms - it has its own language code (ml/mlt) that is distinct from that used for the Arabic macrolanguage (ar/ara) and has no diglossic relationship with Standard Arabic or Classical Arabic. It is one of the official languages of the EU.
Arabic is a "minority" language in the United Arab Emirates as the majority of the population is composed of expatriates.List of official languages by country and territory
This is a complete list of the official languages of countries and dependent territories of the world. It includes all languages that have official language status either statewide or in a part of the state, or that have status as a national language, regional language, or minority language.List of territorial entities where German is an official language
The following is a list of the territorial entities where German is an official language. It includes countries, which have German as (one of) their nationwide official language(s), as well as dependent territories with German as a co-official language.Marques de Souza
Marques de Souza is a municipality in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.North Frisian language
North Frisian is a minority language of Germany, spoken by about 10,000 people in North Frisia. The language is part of the larger group of the West Germanic Frisian languages. The language comprises 10 dialects which are themselves divided into an insular and a mainland group.
North Frisian is closely related to the Saterland Frisian language of Northwest Germany and West Frisian which is spoken in the Netherlands. All of these are also closely related to the English language forming the Anglo-Frisian group.
The phonological system of the North Frisian dialects is strongly being influenced by Standard German and is slowly adapting to that of the German language. With a number of native speakers probably even less than 10,000 and decreasing use in mainland North Frisia, the North Frisian language is endangered. It is protected as a minority language and has become an official language in the Nordfriesland district and on Heligoland island.Official minority languages of Sweden
In 1999, the Minority Language Committee of Sweden formally declared five official minority languages: Finnish, Sami, Romani, Yiddish, and Meänkieli (Tornedal Finnish).
The Swedish language dominates commercial and cultural life in Sweden but did not officially become the country's main language until 2009, when a new language law entered into effect. The need for this legal status had been the subject of protracted debate and proposed legislation was narrowly defeated in 2005.The minority languages have been legally recognized to protect the cultural and historical heritage of their respective speech communities. These communities are given certain rights on that basis, such as school education in their language, and its use in dealing with governmental agencies.Regional language
A regional language is a language spoken in an area of a sovereign state, whether it be a small area, a federated state or province, or some wider area.
Internationally, for the purposes of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, "regional or minority languages" means languages that are:
traditionally used within a given territory of a State by nationals of that State who form a group numerically smaller than the rest of the State's population; and
different from the official language(s) of that StateRecognition of regional or minority languages must not be confused with recognition as an official language.Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the section of the Constitution of Canada that guarantees minority language educational rights to French-speaking communities outside Quebec, and, to a lesser extent, English-speaking minorities in Quebec. The section may be particularly notable, in that some scholars believe that section 23 "was the only part of the Charter with which Pierre Trudeau was truly concerned." Trudeau was the prime minister who fought for the inclusion of the Charter of Rights in the Constitution of Canada in 1982.
Section 23(1)(b), or section 23 as a whole, are also known as the "Canada clause."Selbach, Rio Grande do Sul
Selbach is a municipality in the state of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil.Serbian language
Serbian (српски / srpski, pronounced [sr̩̂pskiː]) is the standardized variety of the Serbo-Croatian language mainly used by Serbs. It is the official language of Serbia, co-official in the territory of Kosovo, and one of the three official languages of Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, it is a recognized minority language in Montenegro where it is spoken by the relative majority of the population, as well as in Croatia, North Macedonia, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Czech Republic.
Standard Serbian is based on the most widespread dialect of Serbo-Croatian, Shtokavian (more specifically on the dialects of Šumadija-Vojvodina and Eastern Herzegovina), which is also the basis of Standard Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin. The other dialect spoken by Serbs is Torlakian in southeastern Serbia, which is transitional to Macedonian and Bulgarian.
Serbian is practically the only European standard language whose speakers are fully functionally digraphic, using both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets. The Serbian Cyrillic alphabet was devised in 1814 by Serbian linguist Vuk Karadžić, who created it based on phonemic principles. The Serbian Latin alphabet was designed by Croatian linguist Ljudevit Gaj in 1830.São Leopoldo
São Leopoldo is an important Brazilian industrial city located in the south state of Rio Grande do Sul.