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The countries with the most official languages in the world

Published on 23/10/2023

An official language is one that may be used in the acts of government of any state. At some point, you've probably wondered which country has the most official languages. We have the answer in this article, and it's sure to surprise you. Bear in mind that some countries have official languages for their entire territory, while others give official status to another language, but only in certain regions. There are two countries in the world with the highest number of official languages. They can be found on the South American continent.

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  1. Official languages in the world

Official languages in the world

The first of these two countries is Bolivia, which has 37 official languages throughout its territory, while Peru has 32 official languages. In addition to Spanish, there are other languages that are fully official and in common use. These languages have been preserved from ancient indigenous civilisations, and have managed to survive into the 21st century with complete normality. The governments of these countries are trying to protect their invaluable languages by giving them official status.

Within the European continent, the Italian peninsula only has one official language: Italian. However, at regional level, German, Slovene, French, Friulian and Ladin are also considered official languages. The transalpine country has several borders, which is why all these languages have regional value.

This is similar to the situation in Spain, where the common language is Spanish. However, Valencian, Catalan, Galician, Basque and Occitan all have official status. Other languages, such as Bable or Aragonese, are also fighting for official status within their regions.

Switzerland is one of the European countries with the largest number of official languages in Europe, where German, French, Italian and Romansh are all recognised. Depending on the region of Switzerland that you visit, there will be language proficiency in one language or another.

In Portugal, only the Portuguese language has official status. However, Portugal is closely related to Brazil, where a different variety of Portuguese is spoken, so there is awareness in the Portuguese-speaking nation of the Portuguese spoken on the other side of the Atlantic.

An interesting fact is that there is no official language in the UK. English is obviously spoken, but other languages are also in common use, such as Welsh, which is the second most important language in the whole territory. English has some variants, such as that spoken in Scotland, but it is curious that a country of such importance has not given official status to other varieties such as those described above.

If we look at another region of the world, Singapore, there are four official languages: English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil. In Singapore, all these languages coexist in harmony and it is normal for a large part of the population to be fluent in at least two of them.

As can be seen, the great diversity of languages is a real challenge for professionals. translation agency must take into account not only the official language, but also those languages that also have such a status at regional level. It can be difficult for a translation company to carry out such jobs, so it is very important to have people who are able to handle them in a professional manner. Any agency that has translators and interpreters in minority languages is highly valued, and can therefore be in high demand. The fact that a language may be a minority language does not mean that it is not important. All the other countries in the world are a long way from the 37 official languages in Bolivia or the 32 in Peru, but if languages coexist in harmony, there is no reason why a language should not have official status.

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Virginia Pacheco's picture
Virginia Pacheco

Blog writer and Community Manager interested in multiculturality and linguistic diversity. From her native Venuzuela, she has travelled and lived for many years in France, Germany, Cameroon and Spain, passing on her passion for writing and her intercultural experiences.

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