French is recognized by its constitution as the official language in the country. The government primarily communicates in French, as well as the 88% of the population who speaks it as their first language. Over the years, France has worked hard to promote the French language, and it even established the regulating body of the Académie Française in 1635 to protect and promote it. However, its relationship to its own regional languages is more complex as there are many regional languages that have been spoken inside France for at least as long, or even longer than French, and yet they still remain largely unrecognized. France is a signatory of an European Treaty adopted in 1992 whose goal is to protect and promote historical regional and minority languages in Europe, however it has still not ratified it. Therefore, most of those who speak minority languages also speak French, given that the regional and minority languages are given no to very limited legal recognition.

From French Dominance to Lingering Heritage: The Complex World of Regional and Minority Languages

Apart from French, other commonly spoken languages are English, Spanish, German, Italian, Arabic and Portuguese. Several languages spoken in different regions of France had their origin from the Germanic, Celtic and Gallo-Romance dialects, such as Breton, Corsican, Occitan, Gascon, Auvergnat and Norma. Breton is spoken by approximately 200,000 people, most of them residing in Brittany, where the language originated. For 300 years it was used by the French upper classes, after which it lost its prevalence to French and Latin. Today, it can only be heard in some regions in Lower Brittany. Corsican is otherwise known as lingua corsa, and it was an official language of Corsica until the mid-19th century. It was influenced by Tuscan, Italian and French, and has developed into several dialects which vary through Corsica and Northern Sardinia. It is currently spoken by less than 200,000 people, and it is being taught in schools and popularized by local media. Occitan is spoken in southern France, northern Spain and Italy’s Occitan Valley. These different dialects may resemble each other, however the differences between them can be significant. Gascon has about 250,000 speakers and is mostly spoken in the southwest of France. Due to the geographical proximity to Spain, it has some ties to the Basque language. Auvergnat is spoken in the historical province of Auvernhat in the south of France. A recent study revealed that over 80% of the residents understood the local dialect, and its popularity is rising, especially among the younger generation. Norma is mainly spoken in Normandy by about 100,000 people.

Other minority languages in France include Gallo, Basque, Languedocien, as well as Polish, Turkish, Dutch, Romanian, Chinese, Catalan, Croatian and Galician. Many of these languages are native – such as Gallo, Languedocien and Galician – and are actually thought to be nearing extinction.

While Russian is the official language of Russia at the national level, there are also 35 other languages which are considered the official languages in different regions of the country. Being home to diverse cultures, Russia’s multicultural and multilingual landscape is manifested in the high number of different languages used all over the country.

Russian: A Dominant Language with Diverse Regional Flavors

With about 260 million native speakers, Russian is the most popular language in the country. It is legally recognized as the country’s official language at the national level, which is enshrined in the Constitution of Russia. As aforementioned, however, there are 35 other languages which are used as official languages in various other regions of Russia, as well as about 100 other minority languages.

The Russian language is classified as an Indo-European language and one of the four East Slavic Languages, and is one of the most widespread languages in the world, with speakers in Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Estonia, Tajikistan, Georgia, Lithuania, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan. Russian is also used as an official language in the United Nations. Its written form uses a distinct type of alphabet based on the Cyrillic script.

Other official languages of Russia include: Ossetic, Ukrainian, Buryat, Kalmyk, Chechen, Ingush, Abaza, Adyghe, Cherkess, Kabardian, Altai, Bashkir, Chuvash, Crimean Tatar, Karachay-Balkar, Khakas, Nogai, Tatar, Tuvan, Yakut, Erzya, Komi, Hill Mari, Meadow Mari, Moksha, and Udmurt. With thousands of native speakers, these languages make up a significant portion of the total Russian population.

Some Russian languages are also considered endangered. One such example is the Kalmyk language, which is legally recognized as the official language of Kalmykia with about 80,000 native speakers in the country. However, as per UNESCO, which has labeled the language as “definitely endangered”, the Kalmyk language is in danger of extinction. Other languages which are in danger of extinction include: Northern and Souther Yukaghir, Udege, Enets, Orok, Ter Sami, Ket, Seto, Ingrian, Chulym, Ludian, Veps, Tofalar, and Chukchi.

Preserving Heritage: The Struggle to Save Endangered Languages

Some languages, which have already been declared extinct in Russia, have small populations of native speakers in other countries in the world. Such languages include Kerek, Ainu, and Yugh.

Some of the foreign languages used by thousands of expatriates who might have verbal and written knowledge of the national language, but who also use their native languages while communicating include English, German, Turkish, Ukrainian and French. These languages are mainly used among the major city centers in Russia.

Indonesian is the official language of Indonesia, as indicated in the Indonesian Constitution. Indonesian is the most widely used language in the country, be it in formal communication, media, administration or commerce. It is one of the most popular languages in the world with around 43 million native speakers in Indonesia, and another 156 million who use it as a second language.

Javanese: The Major Regional Language of Indonesia

There are over 700 living languages spoken in Indonesia today, however, most of which are Austronesian languages. Some of these include Javanese and Sundanese which have millions of native speakers.

Javanese is one of the major regional languages of Indonesia which is predominantly used among the Javanese people in the island of Java. It has around 98 million Indonesian people who identify as native Javanese speakers, making the language one of the most widely used in the country. Javanese is recognized as the official language in East Java and Central Java. Like Indonesian, Javanese is also categorized under the Austronesian language family. It is made up of three distinct dialects which include: Central Javanese, Western Javanese, and Eastern Javanese. In its written form, Javanese uses the Latin script instead of the Javanese script which was used in the past.

Sundanese: A Significant Regional Language of West Java and Banten

Another major regional language spoken in Indonesia is Sundanese. Sundanese is mainly used in West Java and Banten, where it is recognized as an official regional language. With around 42 million people who speak Sundanese in Indonesia, Sundanese speakers make up for about 15% of the total population of Indonesia. The language is made up of six main, geographically defined dialects, which include: the Southeast dialect, the Northeast dialect, the Mid-east dialect, the Priangan dialect, the Western dialect and the Northern dialect.

Other languages which can be heard in Indonesia include Musi and Minangkabau. Musi is a Malay language with around 3.1 million speakers which is predominantly used in the Palembang region of South Sumatra. The Minangkabau language is used by the members of the Minangkabau ethnic group, an estimated 5.5 million of them.

Dutch is the most spoken and the official language of the Netherlands. Nearly 23 million people speak Dutch as their first language, with about 5 million people speaking it as their second language. Almost the entire population of the Netherlands speaks Dutch, which is the world’s third most widely spoken Germanic language.

Frisian, English, and Papiamento: Official Regional Languages of the Netherlands

Aside from Dutch, there are other officially recognized regional languages in the Netherlands, which include Frisian, English and Papiamento. Frisian is a West Germanic language spoken by over 450,000 people in the country, most of which live in the Friesland province of the Netherlands. Frisian serves as the co-official language of the Friesland province, along with Dutch. English is the official language of the BES Islands of the Netherlands, with most schools in the region using it as the primary instruction medium. Papiamento is an official regional language in the Bonaire Municipality and is also widely spoken in come Caribbean Islands. The Papiamento language is derived from the Portuguese and African languages.

Preserving Cultural Heritage: Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish

Dutch Low Saxon and Limburgish are among the non-officially recognized regional languages in the Netherlands. Dutch Low Saxon includes a variety of Low Saxon dialects that are spoken in certain parts of northeastern Netherlands. It is currently spoken by nearly 1.8 million speakers, but given that the number of speakers is steadily falling, UNESCO has classified it as vulnerable. Limburgish is spoken by about 825,000 speakers in the Limburg province, and it has a large number of dialects with significant variances.

There are also certain immigrant languages which can be heard within the country. These include varieties of Arabic, Turkish and Berber languages spoken by the immigrants to the Netherlands.

Some of the most widely spoken foreign languages in the Netherlands include English, which is an extremely popular foreign language spoken by the majority of the population (90-93%), German, which is spoken by over 70% of the country’s population, as well as French and Spanish, spoken by 29% and 5% of the population, respectively.