Countries with two or more official languages
Replies: 103 - Last Post: Apr 7, 2013 11:17 AM Last Post By: orangutan
Jan 28, 2008 5:46 AM
60I didn't specify, but I was thinking of federal matters. I think I heard here that you do have that right in Canada for federal matters but not for provincial matters unless your province is bilingual. If anyone can shed any light on that, I'm happy to be corrected. But anyway, I was just giving an example and it made sense to use a real country and explain that I was being hypothetical. I had originally tried a made-up country with different languages that are not spoken in the same part of the world, and it became too convoluted to follow.
Jan 28, 2008 6:57 AM
61Strangely, despite some consensus here about the relative pointlessness of an "official" language, it appears that most countries around the world have them.
The only countries I could find that don't have "official" languages are
No prizes for guessing what the de facto languages of these are though.
Jan 28, 2008 7:04 AM
Jan 28, 2008 8:24 AM
63I'm not so sure that Vatican City doesn't have an official language. I did a google search and a lot of websites claimed that Latin is the official language.
Even if they are wrong, do you still assume Latin is the defacto language? It is only used for official documents whereas Italian is the more common day to day language used for conversation, broadcasts, etc.
However, the Swiss Guards have German as their "official" language, in that all commands etc are in German.
So toot has raised an interesting scenario, a country with one language used for official documents but not for anything else, an "everyday" language and its military using a third language.
Jan 28, 2008 9:31 PM
Feb 8, 2008 8:14 AM
#64 -- Presumably if one side or another in a legal case wants to call a witness who can't speak any of those three languages, they can do it, and the court will supply an interpreter, no?
And I would bet that if you had a large influx of immigrants who spoke some language other than those three, the government would publish some things in their language.
I really don't understand the point of declaring a language or languages "official."
Taking as an example the area of Slovenia where both Italian and Slovene are official languages: of course the court will provide an interpreter for a witness that doesn't know either of these two languages, but e.g. if you're filing a lawsuit, you can do it only in one of these two languages. If you file it in English, it would be dismissed as gibberish. The co-official status also means that you can choose in which language you want to follow the proceedings, even though you know both.
The govt and businesses may well publish some things in other languages, but they're not required to do it, while in the coastal region pretty much all public notices are translated to Italian (not 100% sure what exactly really has to be but pretyy much everything is).
Feb 8, 2008 11:38 AM
66Ah, that makes sense, igor. And by that standard it may be a bit bogus to claim that the US has no official language. I doubt that any state or federal court would recognize a suit filed in any language but English. That's leaving aside Spanish in Puerto Rico, and possibly Hawaiian in Hawaiian state courts, although filing a suit in Hawaiian would not be a way to make yourself popular with the court, and it would be risky dealing in a language whose terms didn't have a precise legally defined meaning.
Feb 8, 2008 11:57 AM
67I know someone who is on some law-related advisory committee in New Jersey. This precise issue was sent to the committee for advice a few months ago: whether a statement made in Spanish (or any other language) can be accepted by the court, if the judge and the parties involved in the law suit are all able to read and understand it. The committee's advice is confidential, so pending legislation -- or court action? I'm not sure whom they were advising -- she wasn't able to say what the result was, but it may come up soon in some form or other.
Feb 8, 2008 12:36 PM
68Strangely enough, Schwarzenegger is one of those at the forefront of pushing English as the official language of the USA.
I guess it would make the Spanish speaking population even more eager to learn the English language, but it goes against the Anglo-Saxon tradition of not making English an official language (read Australia, UK ...)
Feb 8, 2008 12:41 PM
Feb 8, 2008 12:48 PM
Feb 8, 2008 12:50 PM
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Feb 8, 2008 1:02 PM
Feb 8, 2008 1:13 PM
74Pleadings in federal courts have to contain claims, defenses, etc. in "short and plain statements". "Plain to whom?", we could ask. It could be argued that a statement that is clear to the judge is acceptable under this rule. It could also be argued that "short and plain" is an objective standard, that there is some platonic "plain" that -- in the US at least -- disqualifies Spanish.
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