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Linguistic Dominance Sheer numbers affect linguistic linguistic dominance, but size is not evdominance erything. Chinese, for example, A situation in which with more than a billion speakone language becomes ers, commands the largest speech comparatively more powerful than another community in the world, but the language. geographic range of Chinese is far more restricted than that of English. On the world stage, therefore, English is considered a more dominant language than Chinese. This status shows that linguistic dominance is sometimes more a result of economic and political power than of size. The association of a language with an independent country is also important. There are about 200 independent political states in the world but about 6,900 languages. In other words, there is what we

might call a language gap. That is, a majority of the world’s languages are not directly associated with the functions of a state. Such stateless languages are not used for government functions and are rarely taught in schools. Although they are used in the daily lives of their speakers and are very much a part of people’s identity, these uses may not confer the same kind of status on them. Identification of an official language is often among the first acts of a newly independent country. An official language is one that a country formally designates for use in its political, legal, and administrative affairs. This designation is usually made in the country’s constitution. A country can designate more than one official language; thus, countries can be officially unilingual, bilingual, trilingual, and so on. However, not all countries have an official language (see Figure 4.9).

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a. India In India, 22 languages have official status. Sanskrit, an official language, is not shown on the map because it is a language of Hindu sacred texts and seldom used for everyday conversation. The map also shows language families.

TA J I K I S TA

N K

AFGHANISTAN

A S H M I R Kashmiri

C H I N A

Urdu Dogri

jab

i

WA MT 1995

an

PA K I S TA N

P

New Delhi

H

N

i

n

d

BHUTAN

E P A L

i

Nepali Bodo e am Ass

Maithili

WY 1996

se T 0

Santali

I N D I A

Bengali Kolkata

Gujarati

t h i r a

Konkan

NM

BANGLADESH

Te l u g u

i

Kann

Bay of Bengal

ad

Ar a b i a n Se a

Ma

laya

Ta m i l

Andaman Sea

lam

Official Language Austro-Asiatic Dravidian Indo-European Sino-Tibetan Other No data

Official English Law o Official English Law Year Official English law was enacted 995 Y Year existing Official English law was modified 2010 Official English referendum on ballot

Andaman Islands

Chennai

a

Language Family Telegu

Oriya

MYANMAR

M

a Mumbai

SD 1995

CO 1988

Manipuri Sindhi

ND 1987

SRI LANKA

Nicobar Islands

INDONESIA 0 0

250 250

500 Miles

500 Kilometers

Disputed border

108 CHAPTER 4 Geographies of Language

▲ The United States does not have an official lanb. United States

guage, although 30 states now have some variety of “official English” law. Supporters of these laws point out that an official English law does not ban the use of languages other than English and therefore does not have the same impact as an English-only law. Do you agree?

Greiner visualizing human geography chapters 2-5  

Chapters for Manual High School

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