Is There an Official Language in Australia?
Last Updated On: September 16, 2022 by The Migration Translators
The short answer is that there is no official language in Australia, but in reality, the situation is a little more complex.
What is an official language?
An official language is a language that is accorded supreme status in a country or state. The term “official language” is not usually the language spoken by a country or people but is assigned to be used by the government of a country. There are 178 countries that recognize an official language.
The official language in Australia
One question often asked is “Is English the official language of Australia?” On paper, Australia does not have an official language, but for practical reasons, English plays the role of the main language used for education, commerce, science, and administration. English is de facto the primary language because it happens to be the first language spoken by approximately 73% of the country’s population.
Many people are searching and want to know what is the official language of Australia. While there is no official language in Australia, the main language of Australia is definitely English. The written English used is closely related to the English of Britain, although there are a few differences in spelling.
English is regularly spoken by over 80% of citizens at home as a first language, even if a significant percentage of these people are bilingual or multilingual. That’s why it is considered that English is the official language in Australia.
All official documents which are needed to support a government application such as a visa or citizenship application must be in English. If the original documents are not in English, then they must be translated by an accredited professional translator into English and certified that they are accurate translations of the original. If the translation takes place within Australia, then the translator must be accredited by the official accreditation authority, NAATI.
The sorts of documents that are regularly translated into English are:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificates
- Divorce certificates
- Employment records
- Educational and technical qualifications
- Police certificates
Indigenous languages/Aboriginal languages
When the European occupation of Australia began there were as many as 400 different indigenous languages, some of which were mutually intelligible, being more dialects than anything else. None of these languages has become adopted as either an official language or a national language of Australia in the same way as the indigenous language of neighboring New Zealand did (Maori). Many indigenous languages have either died out or are in danger of disappearing. Where one of the 70 odd indigenous languages that have survived is still widely used (mainly in the north of Western Australia, the Northern Territory, and Queensland), professional translators help to bridge the gap when it comes to providing government services where a translation from the aboriginal language to English is required to assure understanding takes place.
What are the most common languages spoken in Australia?
There are many other languages spoken in Australia apart from English which is spoken by the large immigrant population that lives permanently in the country.
Most Australians speak just English so it is the most commonly spoken language in Australia. Overall about 73% of Australians speak just English while about 18.2 % are non-English speakers. Of the non-English languages, those that are spoken the most are listed below:
- 2.5% speak Mandarin
- 1.4 % speak Arabic
- 1.2% speak Italian
- 1.2 % speak Vietnamese
- 1.2 % speak Cantonese
- 1.0% speak Greek
- 0.7 % speak Hindi
- 0.6% speak Spanish.
- 0.6% speak Punjabi
In Australia is Tamil an official language?
Some people think that Tamil is one of the official languages in Australia. However, those people who know a lot about Australia will know that the country doesn’t have an official language but English has been used as a de facto official language since European settlement. Because of the large number of Tamils living in Australia, there have been requests made in Australia’s parliament to add Tamil to the national curriculum but no decision has ever been made so Tamil isn’t an Australian official language.
Hire a professional language translator
If you are looking for translations from your language into English you should consider hiring a professional language translator who has expertise in your language as well as English.