Talk:Languages of the United States

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Dakota Language[edit]

It says there are 16,000 speakers in the US, but on the page Dakota_language it says there are 1,000 in the World!!! (talk) 01:48, 30 July 2010 (UTC)


the labelling of 'foreign' languages is a bit complicated? In what sense is Spanish 'foreign' and English 'domestic'? Spanish has been spoken longer than English in parts of the US. --Soman (talk) 01:53, 31 August 2010 (UTC)

Good point. There's a hidden comment clarifying that as, "Languages primarily LEARNED by Americans as a foreign language", but that is only visible to editors; perhaps that should be made more visible by creating a Notes section in the infobox using the available extralabel and extra parameters. Alternatively, perhaps there's a better solution using the available minority and immigrant fields. See Template:Languages_of. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 02:40, 31 August 2010 (UTC)
I agree that this makes no sense. First of all, Spanish and French and no more 'foreign' in the US than English. All 3 languages are non-native and all have been spoken as primary languages in the U.S. since its founding. Secondly, as Wtmitchell points out, this is not a list of 'foreign languages', but an original list of the non-English non-signing languages that are most commonly taught in American universities. Not only is this original research (the list at the cited source includes signed languages), but it is hardly important enough to include in the infobox. For most people this entry is just going to cause confusion, as there is no way to know that it is something completely different than the label without seeing the HTML comment. I'm going to remove it for now. Kaldari (talk) 22:11, 23 May 2013 (UTC)


Greetings all. I've been going through the section on states that do and do not have English as an official language. I've added several sources, a little text, etc. However, I noticed that the map included in the section, where states are shaded different colors, incorrectly identifies Massachusetts as a state with official English. I've removed the image until someone with better image-editing skills than I can fix that error. Regards, ClovisPt (talk) 17:48, 21 September 2010 (UTC)

According to, Massachusetts enacted official English legislation in 1975. a link on that page points to, which says "Recognized by the Supreme Court of Massachusetts in Commonwealth v. Olivo (1975)". I see info about that case at, which includes

An official order to vacate written in English only and received by a Spanish-speaking occupant of an apartment unable to read English, served in hand by a constable, was constitutionally sufficient [70]; a statement in the order that noncompliance would result in penalties as provided by law gave fair warning of criminal penalties,


A governmental policy of sending notices in English only, placing the burden of having the notice translated on persons not literate in English, and conviction of such a person for failure to comply with an English-only notice, do not violate the equal protection provision of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. [72-73]


2. The first question reported by the judge asks whether a Spanish-speaking person who is unable to read English can be convicted of the crime of refusing to comply with a written

order, where that order is written entirely in English. In light of the fact that the second question addresses the constitutional issues raised, we construe this question to ask whether the statute, G.L.c. 185B, § 20, allows a conviction in these circumstances.[fn3] We believe it does.
3. The second question asks whether it would violate the due process and equal protection provisions of the United States Constitution to convict a Spanish-speaking person who is unable to read English of the crime of failing to comply with a notice written entirely in English. We think it would not.

I'm not a lawyer, but that reads to me as if the Mass SC has judicially legislated approval of English as an official language of government in the state. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 23:10, 22 September 2010 (UTC)
Hi. This issue was discussed at the Massachusetts article, where it was decided to list the official language as "None, English de facto." The discussion can be found here, it's worth taking a look at. Cheers, ClovisPt (talk) 00:46, 24 September 2010 (UTC)
It looks to me as if the actual situation here is too complicated to be expressed without distortion by asserting that English is or is not official in Massechussets. See footnote 11 on pages 14-15 here -- the bit about Mass. is on p. 15). Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 01:39, 25 September 2010 (UTC)

Criticism for lack of citation about information given on Germany language in US[edit]

One reason for this decline of German language was the perception during both World Wars that speaking the language of the enemy was unpatriotic; foreign language instruction was banned in places during the First World War.

There is no citation for saying German was largely spoken in Pennsylvania and the Midwest until this time. The Amish spoke it back then and still do and thy are in Pennsylvania most. They generally get categorized as an ethnic/cultural group separate than Americans of German ancestry though. If the perception of it being an enemy language - and it was for those who still spoke the language, the language would have likely diminished before the 1950's. The Germanophobia against Germans began in WWII and education and newspapers in German were shut down. Still though, many Americans of German ancestry lost the language naturally prior to and about the time of WWI because they had generations there and they lived in communities with Americans who weren't of their background.

Also, how is saying the demise of agricultural sociologically explaining the diminishing of a language? The person didn't even try to elaborate and there is obviously no citation. Why would it matter if it were pre-WWII or postwar farming techniques? Many of these areas like Nebraska are still agriculturally dominated.

However, in recent years, immigration of highly skilled Germans to the US has picked up to some degree.

Where'd this information come from? Someone's dream? Please give an article of some sort. The only people I ever met from Germany in this country were those married to American soldiers or tourists. I'm not saying there aren't a few. But to say it has picked up without citation is a leap of a statement. Especially considering the US is in a bad recession.

There is also no citation to claiming there was a third wave of German immigration. This wave couldn't have existed because the National Origins Act of 1924 restricted the number of immigrant arrivals so tightly that it would have been impossible to categorize as a wave. Unless of course people want to revise history and pretend that the act never existed which would be typical thing for Wikipedia writers to do.

How are you going to say the German language is being taught less and less? The language was literally at a near zero point during the two-world war's and the anti-German sentiment carried after WWII. If anything, the language has slightly increased in popularity with universities offering more options and Rosetta Stone and Live Mocha via the internet making it so accessible to learn.

Tom65.32.185.72 (talk) 04:19, 6 February 2011 (UTC)

New Mexico[edit]

Can anyone verify the status of English and Spanish in New Mexico? The New Mexico article appears conflicted on this: the infobox says English and Spanish, but the article text says it has no official language but provided for bilingual government briefly. Looking through the state constitution on Wikisource and elsewhere on the Internet (did they get a new one in 2007? that's what it looks like. anyway...), there's no mention of an official language; I don't know if it was legislation rather than part of the constitution. The PDF that's linked as a source specifically says that neither language is official, and I would question the admissibility of the NMCTE page(it says New Mexico is "the only state in the USA that is officially bilingual") and the "All About New Mexico" page (it's just kind of sketchy). Sectori (talk) 23:52, 3 October 2011 (UTC)

I have searched the New Mexico laws and constitution, and there is NO official language in New Mexico. The myth that English and Spanish are state official language stems from the fact that as a condition for statehood, New Mexico demanded and got a provision that Spanish be given the status of a temporarily protected language for a limited period of time, which has since expired.

I don't know how to change the table, but someone who does should change the New Mexico entry to remove English and Spanish as official languages. That will make it conform to remarks on the rest of the page, which clearly state that the state has no official language.

File:Speak American WWII.jpg Nominated for Deletion[edit]

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Here is info from the 2000 census: Speak English only: 216,176,111

Top foreign languages (no. of speakers, % of them who say they speak English "very level)

  • Spanish (32,184,293, 52%)
  • Chinese (2,300,467, 45%)
  • French including Cajun and Patois (1,383,432, 78%)
  • Tagalog (1,376,632, 67%)
  • Vietnamese (1,142,328, 38%)

WhisperToMe (talk) 10:14, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Bogus assertion[edit]

"United States holds the world's fifth largest Spanish-speaking population, outnumbered only by Spain, Mexico, Colombia and Ecuador. "

Oh really ? So Ecuador ( pop 15 million ) has more Spanish speakers than Argentina ( pop 40 million ) ? Doubtful !Eregli bob (talk) 15:25, 19 March 2012 (UTC)

Languages of the United States or languages spoken by people resident in the United States? Unless the languages in question enjoy continued usage as a community language through intergenerational transmission they can hardly be considered Languages of the United States. What about Latin, Old English and Klingon? Someone somewhere in the United States can speak those too. (talk) 12:50, 26 December 2012 (UTC)
I think the article is pretty clear about what it covers. It's not going to be changed; it could be moved, if you had a proposal on where to move it that others agreed with. Your definition is pretty limiting. Yes, Latin, Old English and Klingon can be spoken somewhere in the US, but not as a language at home (which is what most of our data covers) and I'm sure by any means of counting Old English and Klingon are not on the charts. If you have information on fluent Latin speakers in the US, it would make an interesting addition to the article.--Prosfilaes (talk) 22:46, 26 December 2012 (UTC)

keyboard layout is not a language[edit]

It's frankly silly that there is a section for common keyboard layout in the information box for this article.Some might debate whether writing is itself a language, or merely a means to record language... but none could reasonably maintain that a keyboard layout is a language. If this is included, we should by extension include:

-Most popular brand of pen -Commonly used computer programming languages -Fonts -Duck whistles

zadignose (talk) 23:13, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

True. Choyoołʼįįhí:Seb az86556 > haneʼ 23:15, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

Definition in lead[edit]

Per Wikipedia:Manual of Style/Lead section#Introductory text, "The first paragraph should define the topic with a neutral point of view, but without being overly specific." I realize that the usual definition style (e.g. "The Tea Party movement is an American political movement that advocates strict adherence to the United States Constitution...") might not be quite appropriate here ("Languages of the United States are several human systems of communication that exist in a federal republic between Canada and Mexico..."), but it should be possible to define in the first paragraph what the scope of this article is. In particular, since the article is not (only) about English and US official language policy, those should not be the first two sentences and virtually all of of the first paragraph of the lead section.

The MOS also suggests that lead sections should generally be only about four paragraphs, but with such a broad topic, this article may well need something a bit longer. Cnilep (talk) 03:08, 30 April 2013 (UTC)

Problematic paragraph[edit]

I was going to copy edit this paragraph, as something has clearly gone wrong in the grammar, but then I could find no support for some of the assertions in the paragraph, and I could find no relevance in the end of the paragraph, so I will simply cut it:

"From the 1920s to the early 1950s, a dozen radio stations broadcast in immigrant languages (notably Yiddish for European Jewish immigrants in the Eastern seaboard), but was curtailed by the Great Depression (1930s), then the US government during World War II and came to an end in the late 1940s. Global radio waves on shortwave radio can broadcast in any language and today the internet offers a wide variety of media streamlinked in every major language to the USA and everywhere.[citation needed]"

Problems: 1) ... but was curtailed... (there's no clear subject... perhaps "this practice" was curtailed). 2) ... then the US government... (extends the problem... probably meant to say that the broadcasting of immigrant languages was curtailed by the US government). 3) facts: apparently the 1930's to the 1950's has been referred to as "the Golden Age of Yiddish Radio," and this is precisely the time period that our article claims that this broadcasting was in decline, was curtailed, and came to an end. 4) I can't find any source relating to government efforts to curtail immigrant language radio broadcasts, though it wouldn't surprise me if there were restrictions on Japanese and German broadcasts... that's not clearly indicated here, nor is it relevant to a general discussion of Languages of the US 5) The final assertion about the wide variety of internet radio stations from around the world which are available in the USA and everywhere is not supported and is not relevant to the article.

zadignose (talk) 00:43, 13 May 2013 (UTC)


There is a problem with the citation about the Cambodian/Khmer language link (citation 34). Can anyone fix that? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 15:12, 1 June 2013 (UTC)

Blue language distribution maps.[edit]

No key is provided, nor any clue as to what the data displayed actually is.

Does an indigo section mean that the majority of people speak language x in that state? A larger proportion than in other states? A majority of the United States speakers of said language are found there? What? I have no clue. Better maps may help an awful lot. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:42, 14 April 2014 (UTC)