There are three hundred languages other than English spoken in the UK. Of course, these include territorial minority languages - Scottish, Irish, Gaelic, Mansk and Cornish, but they also include languages from other parts of the world. How do we describe languages other than English which are not territorial minority languages?

For instance, it would be faintly absurd to describe Chinese as a "minority" or "alternative" language. Although Chinese speakers are a minority in Britain, Chinese speakers greatly outnumber English speakers worldwide (726 million Chinese speakers compared to 427 million English speakers). And other languages are not far behind. Languages with a speech community base are now described as 'community languages' - a term coined more than 20 years ago.

Is Britain a multilingual society in the way, for example, Switzerland or Singapore are whereby there are multiple officially recognised languages? Or is Britain better described as linguistically diverse?


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