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Official American

For years Congress has argued over declaring English the official language. Ironically, proposals to ban English surfaced shortly after the American Revolution.

National American?
John Adams, our second president considered every detail in building the new nation - including a common language.

The Legendary English-Only Vote of 1795
Early Americans were concerned about German speakers. The center of that debate is still relevant.

nyc public library Don't Make English Official -  Ban It Instead!
A tongue-in-cheek look at the official language debate.

Half the countries of the world have an official language. The United States isn't one of them. The debate over whether we need an official tongue dates back at least to the 1750s.

Today members of Congress continue to try to pass laws making English the official language. According to scholar Dennis Barron:

Supporters of the [English-Only measures] say that English forms the glue that keeps America together. They deplore the dollars wasted translating English into other languages. And they fear a horde of illegal aliens adamantly refusing to acquire the most powerful language on earth. On the other hand, opponents of official English remind us that without legislation we have managed to get over ninety-seven percent of the residents of this country to speak the national language. No country with an official language law even comes close. Opponents also point out that today's non-English-speaking immigrants are picking up English faster than earlier generations of immigrants did, so instead of official English, they favor "English Plus," encouraging everyone to speak both English and another language.

The definition of an official language is one that has been specifically designated in the Constitution of a country or territory. Officially recognized languages are often mistaken for official languages.

According to the online reference Wikipedia, half the countries of the world have official languages. Some have only one official language, such as Albania, France, Germany and Lithuania. Some have more than one official language such as Belarus, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Afghanistan, Paraguay, Bolivia, India, Switzerland, and South Africa.

Some countries, such as the United States, have no official national language but do have areas where an official language has been adopted. Still other countries have no official languages at all. These include Australia, Eritrea, Luxembourg, Sweden and Tuvalu.

The Philippines and parts of Africa live with a peculiar cultural paradox. Although the official languages may be French or English, these are not the languages most widely spoken by those countries' residents. Another interesting twist on official language can be found in the Republic of Ireland. Though Irish is only spoken by a small proportion of people it is actually the state's first official language. English, the spoken language of the majority, is the second official language.

Source: Wikipedia

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for the Humanities

William and Flora Hewlett
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Foundation

Rosalind P.
Walter

Arthur Vining
Davis Foundations

Carnegie
Corporation of New York