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A regional language is a "language spoken in an area of a "sovereign state, whether it be a small area, a "federal "state or "province, or some wider area.
Internationally, for the purposes of the "European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages, "regional or minority languages" means languages that are:
- traditionally used within a given territory of a State by nationals of that State who form a group numerically smaller than the rest of the State's population; and
- different from the official language(s) of that State
Recognition of regional or minority languages must not be confused with recognition as an "official language.
Influence of number of speakers
There are many cases when a regional language can claim greater numbers of speakers than certain languages which happen to be "official languages of sovereign states. For example, "Catalan (a regional language of "Spain, "Italy and "France, albeit the "national language of "Andorra) has more speakers than "Finnish or "Danish. A similar situation exists in China, where "Wu, spoken in southern "Jiangsu, northern, and the general area of "Shanghai "Zhejiang by more than 90 million speakers, is spoken natively by more speakers than "French; "Yue Chinese, a "Chinese regional variety spoken in "Guangdong, "Hong Kong and nearby areas in "China with more than 60 million local and overseas speakers (North America, parts of "Malaysia), outnumbers "Italian in number of speakers. Dialects of the "Min dialect group have over 70 million speakers, mainly in "Fujian and in nearby "Taiwan, but also in the "Southeast Asian countries of "Malaysia and "Singapore.
Relationship with official languages
In some cases, a regional language may be closely related to the state's main language or "official language. For example:
- The "Frisian languages, regional languages of the Netherlands and Germany, belong to the "Germanic family.
- The "Gutnish language, a regional language spoken in "Gotland and related to the Swedish language.
- "Westrobothnian is another Swedish regional language native to historical "Westrobothnia.
- Regional varieties in China are considered part of the "Chinese "macrolanguage, with the "Mandarin being the most commonly spoken and "Standard Chinese based on the "Beijing dialect.
- "Wu, in "Shanghai, southern "Jiangsu, "Zhejiang and eastern "Jiangxi.
- "Yue Chinese, in "Guangdong, parts of "Guangxi, "Hainan, "Hong Kong and "Macau, "Cantonese is the regional standard variety for Yue-speaking areas
- "Hakka, in parts of "Guangdong, "Jiangxi, "Fujian, and "Taiwan
- "Min, in "Fujian, "Taiwan, eastern "Guangdong and "Hainan.
- "Xiang, in "Hunan.
- "Gan, in "Jiangxi.
- "Kashubian, a regional language of "Poland.
- "Limburgish, a regional language in "Germany, the "Netherlands and Belgium, has around one million speakers and is closely related to "Luxembourgish, "Rhinelandic and "Ripuarian.
- "Low German (also referred to as Low Saxon), an officially recognized regional language in Germany and the Netherlands, the direct descendant of "Old Saxon. Sometimes (e.g. by nds and nds-nl Wikipedia) considered two languages divided by today’s Netherlands–German border on account of Dutch influences in the west and German influences in the east; closely related to "Frisian, more distantly to "German.
- "Scots, a regional language of "Scotland and "Northern Ireland (both part of the "United Kingdom, and where it is known as "Ulster Scots in the latter location), belongs to the same family of "West Germanic languages as "English.
- Regional languages of "Spain and "Portugal:
- "Tibetic languages
- "Võro and "Seto, regional languages of "Estonia, are either dialects of "Estonian or separate "Finnic languages as Estonian.
- "Walloon, a regional language of France and "Belgium, belongs to the same family of "Oïl languages as "French.
- "Hindi and English are the "official languages of "India's "Central Government.
- "Indian regional languages are: "Assamese, "Bengali, "Bhojpuri, "Bodo, "Dogri, "Gujarati, "Kannada, "Kashmiri, "Konkani, "Maithili, "Malayalam, "Manipuri, "Marathi, "Nepali, "Odia, "Punjabi, "Sanskrit, "Santali, "Sindhi, "Sinhala, "Tamil, "Telugu, "Tulu, "Urdu
In other cases, a regional language may be very different from the state's main language or official language. For example:
- "Basque, a regional language in "Spain and "France, is a "language isolate.
- "Breton is a regional Celtic language spoken in "Brittany, part of "France.
- "Cherokee is an "Iroquoian language, one of the many "Native American languages spoken in the U.S. State of "Oklahoma.
- "Cornish, is a non-living regional Celtic language originating in "Cornwall, part of the "United Kingdom.
- "Corsican, a regional language in "France ("Corsica) closely related to "Tuscan.
- "Gagauz, a regional "Turkic language used in "Moldova.
- "Livonian, a regional language of the "Finnic family spoken in "Latvia.
- "Resian, a dialect of "Slovene, is a regional language spoken in eastern "Italy.
- "Sardinian, a regional language spoken in "Italy ("Sardinia).
- "Scottish Gaelic is a regional "Celtic language spoken in the highlands and islands of "Scotland, part of the "United Kingdom.
- "Sorbian, a regional language of "Germany, is a "Slavic language.
- "Welsh is a regional "Celtic language spoken in "Wales, part of the "United Kingdom. The "Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 made "Welsh an official language in Wales.
Official languages as regional languages
An official language of a country may also be spoken as a regional language in a region of a neighbouring country. For example:
- "Afrikaans, an official language of "South Africa, is a regional language of "Namibia.
- "Cantonese, one of the official standard varieties in "Hong Kong and "Macau (both "special administrative regions of the "People's Republic of China), is used as a regional language of the province of "Guangdong, "People's Republic of China.
- "Catalan, the official language of "Andorra, is a regional language in "Spain ("Catalonia, "Balearic Islands and "Valencian Community), "France ("Pyrénées Orientales) and "Italy ("Alghero, "Sardinia).
- "German, an official language of "Austria, "Belgium, "Germany, "Liechtenstein, "Luxembourg and "Switzerland, is a regional language in "Italy ("South Tyrol), "Poland ("Silesia), "France ("Alsace and "Lorraine), "Denmark and "Namibia.
- "Hungarian, a "Uralic language and official in "Hungary, is a regional language of "Romania whose official language, "Romanian is a Romance language.
- "Irish, the first official language of the "Republic of Ireland, is a regional language in "Northern Ireland, part of the "United Kingdom.
- "Korean, the official language of "Korea, is a regional language in "People's Republic of China ("Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture).
- "Malay, the official language of "Malaysia and "Singapore, is a regional language in "Indonesia ("Riau Province).
- "Russian, the official language of the "Russian Federation and "Belarus, is a regional language of "Abkhazia, "South Ossetia and other entities.
- "Turkish, the official language of "Turkey and "Cyprus, is a regional language of "Kosovo.