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One of the most vexing issues in many of the world's so-called ethnic or minority conflicts is the question of language use by the state and its citizens. While international and national law has traditionally viewed language preference to be within a state's prerogative - at least when involving governmental activities and machinery - this position has proved to be a continuous source of acrimony and conflict. This work provides an analysis of various aspects of language and the law. In addition to presenting a theoretical model for language's particular position and relevance in human rights, it constitutes a useful reference document by including the provisions of close to 100 international, multilateral and bilateral instruments involving language rights, as well as the constitutional provisions of 140 countries dealing with language.