Part XXVIII: Use of Languages in the Republic

Featured Illustration: Lyn Risling


*Note: This work was inspired by the history of language imperialism and the constitutions of countries including, but not limited to, India, Bangladesh, and South Africa. Emulating the style of several real constitutions, Levinthia’s constitution devotes long passages to explaining the importance of developing indigenous languages, despite maintaining the use of a non-indigenous language for all official purposes. Although such policies may well be justified, they are concerning when one considers that fuddled language policies can result in killing off indigenous languages by restricting their currency in the country of their origin.

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343. (1) The official languages of the Republic shall be Levinthian and English.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of clause (1), until twenty years have passed after the commencement of the regulations provided for in this Constitution, only English shall be used for all official purposes of the Republic, in order to provide continuity and an efficient transition between the practices of the new Republic and the previous colonial rule. As clarified in Article 201, it has been deemed fit to continue enforcing some previous practices within the new Republic, and the English language would best facilitate such measures. However, the President holds the right to sanction the usage of Levinthian along with English for official purposes of the Republic if he deems it absolutely necessary.

(3) After the specified period of twenty years, the Parliament may provide for the use of either the English or Levinthian language for any or all purposes of the Republic.

344. If the President is convinced that a substantial fraction of the Levinthian population desire any language other than the existing official languages to be officially recognised by the Republic, that the citizens shall benefit by such an action, and that the dignity and sanctity of the Republic shall in no way be harmed by doing so, then he or she holds right to authorise the official recognition of such a language. When issuing a verdict upon the matter of whether a language besides English or Levinthian may be granted official status, the President shall also take under consideration factors such as expense, practicality and the preferences of the Levinthian population as a whole, and his decision must be in keeping with the Levinthian spirit of democracy, as well as its values, principles and traditions.

345. (1) Notwithstanding anything else decreed in this Part, unless in case of the Parliament by law decreeing by law otherwise –

(a) all proceedings in the Supreme Court and High Courts,

(b) all authoritative texts including amendments to this Constitution, Bills to be introduced, orders, rules, ordinances or any other official documents,

(c) maintenance of all public records,

(d) all transactions carried out by public or government-aided institutions,

shall be written in the English language. Official translations shall, however, be made for the portions of the population who are unable to read or comprehend English.

(2) However, despite the contents of sub-clause (a) of clause (1) in Article 345, the Judge of a Supreme or High Court shall hold the authority to allow the use of other languages such as Levinthian or any languages officially recognised by the Republic by the procedures described in Article 344, provided he believes that the use of English would negatively affect the efficiency of court proceedings and hinder the execution of justice or correct judicial procedure.

(3) Considering the dominant use of the English language in public affairs of the country, as elaborated in clause (1) above, any individual desiring admission to the public, judicial, municipal services, or any other public institution must be proficient in the English language, and, for those services in which candidates are chosen by means of exams, the exams must be conducted in English.

346. It shall be the responsibility of all authorities and departments of the Republic to encourage and actively engage in activities which are intended to promote the facilitation of using Levinthian as the language of instruction at the primary stage of education for children in government-aided schools, in order to preserve the rich Levinthian culture and ensure that the language does not fade out or deviate from its roots. The President shall deliver orders to any department of the Government which he believes or considers to be necessary or important for acquiring such a goal.

347.  (1) A Linguistic Officer shall be selected and appointed by the House of Commons. Only citizens of Levinthia shall be considered for this post.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Linguistic Officer to investigate all matters relating to linguistic minorities in Levinthia, to ensure that the culture of different languages is given equal priority and importance, and to report the state of these affairs before the House of Commons at least once in every two years, or more if so declared by law by the House of Commons.

348. It shall be amongst the government’s priorities to encourage and endorse the promotion of the Levinthian language, to support endeavours to spread its reach, to develop its usage and its literature in order for it to serve as a medium for expressing the rich and diverse Levinthian culture, and to preserve the unique identity of the Levinthian people by encompassing, enriching and assimilating all elements of their country without diminishing or interfering with its values, philosophies, beliefs, ideologies, or the forms and styles traditionally used in Levinthia. In light of the colonial influence in Levinthia and the historically diminished standing of the traditional Levinthian languages, the Republic shall take active and progressive measures to raise the status of the Levinthian language and encourage its use in a wide sphere of applications.

Taneesha Datta

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