I am translating a text to English for a university describing a program aimed at multicultural literacy:

Students acquire minor languages in addition to English.

The above translation is no doubt correct, but is there a more tactful way to indicate "minor languages"? It seems that calling them "minor" could be taken as a value judgement.

I have been given "Mongolian" as an example of a "minor language".

Any alternate wordings would be appreciated.

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    Are they really calling them minor languages or do the students graduate with a minor in one or more languages in addition to their major? – Jim Jun 16 '15 at 23:46
  • Why is it necessary to comment on the languages? It's much more useful to give a list. If anybody actually wants to learn one of those languages, they may not be thrilled by them getting dissed by the multicultural literacy folks. – John Lawler Jun 16 '15 at 23:47
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    Are all non-English languages "minor languages" in this context? – sumelic Jun 16 '15 at 23:49
  • These are valid questions! @Jim, these are not related to concentration. "Minor" here is used to indicate relative language usage in the world. – Kyle Jun 16 '15 at 23:52
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    Students acquire fluency in one or more languages in addition to English. – Jim Jun 16 '15 at 23:58

Here in New York City, exams are translated into Spanish and five other languages. All others are called lower incidence languages.


It sounds like you might be talking about minority languages. Mongolian isn't a minority language in Mongolia, but there are Mongolian-speaking language minorities in China and elsewhere.

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