dinsdag 9 februari 2016

Multilingual countries in Europe: who has the most official languages?

There's a difference between multilingual countries and multilingual persons. Some countries have more than one official language, but that doesn't mean that all the inhabitants speak all those languages. Multilingual persons are those that speak more than one language. There's many benefits to that, for example a better capacity to memorise.

Let's see which countries in Europe have more than one official language:

  • In the north of Serbia, there's 'only' 7 official languages. Yes, 7. Serbian, Croatian, Romanian, Ruthanian, Hungarian, Slovak and Czech. One advantage: they're quite similar. No wonder so many Serbians are multilingual.
  • Switzerland has 4 official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh. However, the use depends on the different parts of Switzerland called cantons.

  • Belgium, one of Europe's strangest countries when it comes to language arrangements, has three official languages: Dutch, French and surprisingly German. Dutch is mostly spoken in the north of the country and French in the south. German is spoken in the east region near Germany.

Official languages in Europe, copyright: public domain

  • Luxembourg, the small country in between Belgium, Germany and France combines French, German and Luxembourgish. Many Luxembourgians are multilingual, and the three languages are official nation-wide, unlike Belgium.

  • Belarus, Europe's last dictatorship, has two official languages: Russian and Belarusian.
  • Cyprus, divided in two, has surprisingly both Turkish and Greek as official languages. That's because there were many Turkish living there before Turkey's invasion of 1974. However, in the Turkish part only Turkish is an official language.
  • Finland's official languages are Finnish and Swedish, since there's quite a minority of Swedish persons living there.
  • Ireland also has two official languages: Irish and English. Irish or Gaelic is also an official language of the European Union.
  • Kosovo has Albanian and Serbian as official languages.
  • Maltese nationals usually speak Maltese at home and English when studying at the University. They're both official languages, so it's easy for tourists to go there.
  • The Netherlands have Dutch and Frisian as official languages. Frisian is spoken by half a million persons, and is one of the closest languages to English.

Interested? There's many more countries in Europe that grant certain rights to certain languages. Check them all out on Wikipedia.

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