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Office for National Statistics. Language in England and Wales: 2011. 2013. (accessed 17 February 2021)

Supporting patients whose first language is not English

25 February 2021
Volume 30 · Issue 4

England has no legally constituted official language, but English is the de facto official language. However, Welsh does have legal official status in Wales. In Scotland, Gaelic has official language status and in Northern Ireland the de facto language is English, and Irish Gaelic and Ulster Scots are two recognised regional languages (Mac Sithigh, 2018). In terms of sign language, British Sign Language (BSL) and Irish Sign Language (ISL) are the preferred form of sign language for UK residents, depending on background and location.

Language is complex at the best of times but when countries within the UK have all these differences it can lead to greater complexity.

After these languages, the most common spoken language in the UK is Polish. For example, the 2011 England and Wales census recorded that 546 000 people spoke Polish; the next most common languages being Punjabi and Urdu. And around 4 million people reported speaking a main language other than English or Welsh (Office for National Statistics, 2013).

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