Official language

From Encyklopedia Administracji Publicznej

This page is a translated version of the page Język urzędowy and the translation is 100% complete.

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OFFICIAL LANGUAGE – officially used language that is given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically it is used in the national government and its works (legal acts, government documents, court statements, judgements, etc.). It may happen that in selected regions or parts of the country other language is given the status of the o.l. In that case it is legally required to publish official documents and other official materials also in this language. Usually, the concept of an official language is not used to indicate the language used by the people inhabiting the particular country, but more to indicate the language that is operative for institutions and representatives of the authority, among others the government administration or local-government administration, courts, etc. (in this sense, the o.l. can also be characterised by: impersonal character of expression, directiveness, precision, standardization of construction of texts). The choice of the o.l. in a particular country often awakens many disputes and controversies. There is an alternative to selecting just one o.l. – that is a “multilingual office”, when more than one o.l. has legal status and all the state services are available in all official languages. Today, there are many countries where a couple of languages function simultaneously, and some of the countries recognize more than one o.l. Countries that serve as examples of multilingual states are Belgium, the Philippines, Canada, Switzerland, and on the supranational level – the structure of the EU. In many constitutions the official language(s) or national language(s) (a specific language was recognised as such) are named. Five most common official languages are: Chinese (Mandarin dialect), Spanish, English (recognised as official language in more than 50 countries), French and Arabian. In countries like Spain, Italy or Russia only one o.l. is used, but in particular regions other local official languages coexist with the national one [ M. Kaczorowska ].

Literature: M. Wojtak, Styl urzędowy, [w:] Encyklopedia kultury polskiej XX wieku, red. J. Bartmiński, t. 2, Współczesny język polski, „Wiedza o Kulturze”, Wrocław 1993.

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