Regional language


Regional language

A regional language is a language spoken in an area of a nation state, whether it be a small area, a federal state or province, or some wider area.

Definition in international law

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 State"

Influence of number of speakers

There are many cases when a regional language can claim greater numbers of speakers than certain languages which happen to be official languages of sovereign states. For example, Catalan (a regional language of Spain and France, albeit official in Andorra) has more speakers than Finnish or Danish. In China, Wu, spoken in southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang by more than 90 million speakers, can claim more native speakers than French, and Cantonese, a regional language of Guangdong and nearby areas in China with more than 60 million local and overseas speakers (North America, parts of Malaysia), outnumbers Italian in number of speakers. Subgroups and dialects of the Min group have over 70 million speakers, mainly in Fujian and in nearby Taiwan, but also in the Southeast Asian countries of Malaysia and Singapore.

Relationship with official languages

In some cases, a regional language may be closely related to the state's main language or official language. For example:
*Walloon, a regional language of France and Belgium, belongs to the same family of Oïl languages as French.
*Limburgish, a regional language in Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium has over 250,000 speakers and is closely related to Luxembourgish, Rhinelandic and Ripuarian, a member of the West Germanic languages subgroup.
*Low Saxon (also referred to as Low German), an officially recognized regional language in Germany and The Netherlands, the direct descendant of Old Saxon, in some people’s opinion two languages divided by today’s Netherlands-German border on account of Dutch influences in the west and German influences in the east; most closely related to Dutch and Frisian, more distantly to German.
*Scots, a regional language of Scotland and Ireland, belongs to the same family of West Germanic languages as English.
* Regional languages of Spain: Aranese, Aragonese, Anadalusian, Leonese, Catalan, Valencian and Galician all have co-official status.
*Leonese, a regional language of Leonese Kingdom, recognized in Castile and León (Spain), and in Miranda (Portugal) as Mirandese, close to Spanish and Portuguese.
*The Frisian languages, regional languages of The Netherlands and Germany, belong to the same language family as Dutch and German, but some linguists found a link with Frisian to the English language.
*Romansch, a regional Romance language with a different set of vocabulary, but related to Italian spoken in the Swiss canton of Graubünden.
*Võro, a regional language of Estonia, belongs to the same family of Finno-Ugric languages as Estonian.
*Liv or Livonian is a regional language of the Balto-Slavic language family spoken in the Livonian islands of Estonia and Latvia.

*All Chinese languages belong to the same family as Standard Mandarin (Putonghua), the national standard of the PRC. Mandarin is not mutually intelligible with them. Speakers of all of them, nevertheless, use the same standard written language (although this written language is largely based on the Mandarin dialects group)
**Wu, a regional language of Shanghai, southern Jiangsu and northern Zhejiang
**Cantonese, a regional language of Guangdong
**Hakka, a regional language in southern China, including Guangdong, Fujian, and Taiwan
**Min, a regional language in southeastern China, including Fujian and Taiwan
**Xiang, a regional language China’s Hunan province and some surrounding areas
**Gan, a regional language in non-coastal central China, in and around Jiangxi Province

In other cases, a regional language may be very different from the state’s main language or official language. For example:

*Breton, a Celtic language surrounded by Romance languages in France.
*Basque, a regional language in Spain and France, is non-Indo-European, and therefore unrelated to Spanish or French, both Romance languages.
*Sorbian, a regional language of Germany, is a Slavic language, and therefore only distantly (as an Indo-European language) related to German, a Germanic language.
*Gagauz, a Turkic and thus Altaic language used in the Moldova where Moldovan predominates, a Romance and thus Indo-European language.

Official languages as regional languages

An official language of a country may also be spoken as a regional language in a region of a neighbouring country. For example:
*Russian, the official language of the Russian Federation, is a regional language of Ukraine (such as the autonomous republic of the Crimea), Abkhazia, South Ossetia and other entities.
*Catalan, the official language of Andorra, is a regional language in Spain and France.
*German, an official language of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg and Switzerland, is a regional language of Italy and Denmark.
*Hungarian, a Finno-Ugric language and official in Hungary, is a regional language of Romania whose official language, Romanian is a Romance language.
*Cantonese, one of the official languages in Hong Kong and Macau (both special administrative regions of the People's Republic of China), is used as a regional language of the province of Guangdong, People's Republic of China.
*Afrikaans, an official language of South Africa, is a regional language of Namibia.

ee also

*Minority language
*National language
*Languages of France
*Languages of the European Union
*British-Irish Council
*Languages in the United Kingdom
*List of languages of Italy


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