Society

Largest Languages Without Any Official Status

Several languages have millions of speakers but no official status.

Every nation has one or two official languages which are adopted by the government and used in school and on all official documents. The selected dialect is meant to make it possible for the citizens to converse with each other and with the foreigners who visit the country either for business or tourism purposes. In some cases, the official language is not necessarily the favorite or most popular language used by the natives in the country. So here are some of the most significant dialects with no official status.

Southwestern Mandarin

Southwestern Mandarin is a dialect of the Mandarin Chinese spoken in southwestern and central China including Hubei, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, and Chongqing. The language is spoken by more than 260,000,000 people in China making it the 8th, largest language in the World behind, Bengali, Arabic, Portuguese, Hindi, English, Spanish, and Mandarin itself. The immigrants who came into this region during the Qing and Ming dynasties created this dialect. These dialects have more similarity to the present day Mandarin than the other dialects used in China. The language has numerous pronunciations which differ from Mandarin, and until 1955, southwestern Mandarin was categorized as a branch of various Chinese varieties alongside Wu Chinese and Cantonese. This language is famous among the natives in Kokang district in Myanmar where a majority of the population are Kokangs. Southwestern Mandarin is one of the official languages in Wa State alongside Wa language. Various minorities speak this mandarin dialect in Guangxi and Yunnan.

Central Plains Mandarin

Central Plain Mandarin is a dialect of Mandarin Chinese used in southern Hebei, southern Gansu, south Shandong, South Henan, and the northern part of Jiangsu. This dialect is also spoken in the south and central region Shaanxi and Henan. The old Peking opera dialect is a type of Zhongyuan Mandarin. Among the Hui citizens, this dialect is written using Arabic alphabets. More than 170,000,000 locals converse in Central Plains Mandarin language.

Javanese Language

The Javanese language is the dialect used by the Javanese people living in the eastern and central regions of Java Island in Indonesia. Javanese is also standard among various people in the north coast of the island. Javanese is the native language of more than 90,000,000 people which is approximately 42% of the Indonesians. Javanese language is one of the Austronesian language families, but it is different from all the other languages in the same family. Close relatives of Javanese are Balinese, Madurese, and Sundanese languages common among the neighboring islands in Indonesia. Javanese is the 10th largest dialect in the world with no official status. Previously the dialect was written in Arabic and Latin scripts. Although the schools use Javanese text, Latin writings still dominate the language.

Wu Chinese

Wu Chinese Is a collection of linguistically and historically related mixture of Chinese languages principally used in Zhejiang province, Shanghai and Jiangsu province among other neighboring regions. Some of the most significant Wu dialects include Yongkang, Jinhua, Ningbo, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Lu Xun, and Chiang Kai-shek. The Wu group is common among sinologists and linguists as the most internally different lingo among Sinitic factions with little intelligibility between the Wu varieties across the sub-factions. With more than 70,000,000 speakers, the Wu Chinese language dates back to the old Yue and Wu which centered on the present North Zhejiang and Eastern Wu. Wu has a history of more than 2,500 years, dating back to the settlement of the Chinese in Jiangsu and Zhejiang.

Southern Min

Southern Min, also referred to as Minnan, is a division of the Min Chinese used in various regions of China like Southern Zhejiang, Taiwan, Guangdong, and Hainan. Southern Min vernaculars are spoken by the Chinese immigrants in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, and Indonesia. Minnam is the most popular dialect of all the Min division. In fact, more than 48,000,000 Chinese can converse in Southern Min language. Minnan has three significant variants which include the Minnan proper which is part of the Quanzhang division, Teochew vernacular which is under Chaoshan division, plus Hainanese and Leizhou dialects under Qiong-Le division. Minnan proper is the prevalent form of Minnan spoken as a non-official dialect in Taiwan. Teochew, the second group, is entirely different from Minnan proper in vocabulary and pronunciation, and it originated from the proto-pulian dialect. The 3rd division of Minnan language spoken widely in southern Chinese provinces and Leizhou Peninsula is Qiong Lei. Although the different variants of this section share a historical and linguistic root with Minnan proper, they developed into languages because the locals used them in their geographical location which is south Min parts. With time the dialects evolved into unique languages with drastic changes in their initial consonants due to their contact with various aboriginal languages like Tai-Kadai dialects.

Sundanese Language

More than 42,000,000 people from western Java, which is approximately 15% of Indonesian, have a working knowledge of the Sundanese language. Sundanese is closely related to Malay, Javanese, and Madurese languages. Sundanese has different dialects that vary with their locations, and they are prevalent among the Indonesians, including Northern dialect used in Bogor, the western dialect used in Banten and mid-east dialect, among others. The Priangan language covers the largest part of where the Sundanese natives live. Priangan dialect is the most commonly spoken form of Sundanese language in Indonesia. Throughout history, the Sundanese natives wrote their language using different systems. During the initial Hindu-Buddhist period, the residents wrote on Nagari and Vatteluttu scripts. Later the citizens created their text, but when Islam arrived in the Island, they adopted the Pegon.

Aramaic Language

Aramaic language belongs to the Semitic subfamily of Afroasiatic family. Aramaic has a written history of more than 3,100 years, and it has served as an administrative language of various Empires and divine worship. By 1000 BCE, the dialect was used by locals living in present-day Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Kuwait, and Israel among other places. Although it has no official status, more than 2,000,000 people spread throughout the World have a working knowledge of Aramaic. This dialect is being revitalized among the Maronites in Jish, Israel.

Largest Languages Without Any Official Status

RankLanguageNumber of Speakers
1Southwest Mandarin (incl. Sichuanese)200 million
2Central Plains Mandarin (inc. Shaanxi dialect)170 million
3Javanese language100 million speakers,
4Wu (incl. Shanghainese)77 million
5Southern Min/Hokkien 48 million
6Hakka34 million
7Xiang30–36 million
8Sundanese language 42 million
9Gan22 million
10Madurese language13 million speakers

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