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What does official language mean?

An official language is the officially designated language of the authorities of a country or an international organisation. It is used both by the authorities among themselves and for communication between offices and citizens. Several official languages can exist in parallel within a country. Synonyms for official language are state language or language of the authorities.

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Definition of official language

An official language is the official language of a state. This is the language in which laws are enacted, administrative acts are drafted, court hearings are conducted and information is provided to citizens. When applications or evidence are submitted to a public authority in a foreign language, the authority usually requires a translation into the official language of a country.

Function of a uniform, official language

By establishing a uniform language, communication between government, authorities and citizens is made possible or simplified.

Official languages among international authorities

International authorities such as the European Union (EU) also have official languages. In the EU, 24 languages are currently recognised as official and working languages, derived from the official languages of the 27 member states. The EU is committed to linguistic diversity and therefore gives every citizen the right to address the authority in his or her national language. For this reason, the EU administration employs numerous interpreters and translators.

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FAQ: More questions about official language

How can you describe official language in one sentence?

The official language is the official language of a country in which the government, authorities and citizens communicate with each other.

How many official languages are there?

There are about 6,500 official languages in the world.

Which country has no official language?

In some countries, no official language is defined, for example in Kenya, Kiribati, Mauritius, Narau, Palau and Fiji.

Is sign language an official language?

Efforts are being made in various countries to enshrine sign language in law. In New Zealand, New Zealand Sign Language is actually established as one of the official languages, alongside English and Māori.

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