Official bilingualism

Official bilingualism

Official bilingualism refers to the policy adopted by some states of recognizing two languages as official and producing all official documents, and handling all correspondence and official dealings, including Court procedure, in the two said languages. It is destinct from personal bilingualism, the capacity of a person to speak two languages.


Countries with policies of Official Bilingualism


In Canada English and French have special legal status over other languages in Canada’s courts, parliament and administration.[1] At the provincial level, New Brunswick is the only official bilingual province and only Quebec is officially unilingual (French only). In practice, all provinces, including Quebec, offer some bilingual services and some education in both official languages up to the high school level. English and French are official languages in all three territories (because they are federally administered). In addition, Inuktitut is also an official language in Nunavut, and nine aboriginal languages have official status in the Northwest Territories.


In Finland, Finnish and Swedish are both considered "national languages". Municipalities of Finland are divided into three categories; unilingual Swedish, unilingual Finnish or bilingual. Finnish is the maternal language of about 90% of the population, and the bilingual or swedophone population is concentrated to the coastal areas of Ostrobothnia and Finland Proper. The autonomous province of Åland is officially unilingual (Swedish). Both Swedish and Finnish are compulsory school subjects.


  1. ^ "Official Languages Act - 1985, c. 31 (4th Supp.)". Act current to July 11th, 2010. Department of Justice. Retrieved 2010-15-08. 

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