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.

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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)

Illegalized languages[edit]

Without citing supporting sources, the article speaks of "... English-only laws that, for example, illegalized church services, telephone conversations, and even conversations in the street or on railway platforms in any language other than English, until the first of these laws was ruled unconstitutional in 1923 (Meyer v. Nebraska)." The linked WP article says, "Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 (1923),[1] was a U.S. Supreme Court case that held that a 1919 Nebraska law restricting foreign-language education violated the Due Process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment." The assertion that church services, telephone conversations, and even conversations in the street or on railway platforms in any language other than English were illegalized, and that the illegalizing laws have been repealed or otherwise rendered inoperative needs to be either supported or removed. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 05:43, 10 October 2014 (UTC)

The Official language status section and its table[edit]

This edit caught my eye. The edit summary said, "Official language status: On English First, it's written that Louisiana adopted English in 1811, same thing for 3 more states.". The edit changed content prior to the table saying "out of 50 states, 28 had established English as the official language" to say 31 instead of 28.

No supporting source was cited and I wasn't sure what "On English First" referred to. Some googling turned up this web page on which says, "30 States Have Made English Official (28 Still Have Laws in Effect)", so I reverted that edit.

Having done that, I looked at the table and noted that it asserts that 31 states with English as an official language. The three states listed differently are

  • Alaska, which the table lists as Yes even though noting "1998 law ruled unconstitutional in 2008." The English First list (call that "EF" here) says, "Alaska (overturned)".
  • Kentucky, not listed by EF. The table cites [1998 law ruled unconstitutional in 2008. this] 2011 source in support. I got a 504 error trying to access that URL but found a recently archived copy here (call that "LP" here) which says that FKentucky has a 1984 Official English statute. Some further digging turned up KRS 2.013 State language (current through the 2014 Regular Session [1]) which confirmed that English is the official state language of Kentucky.
  • Massachusetts, which the table lists as Yes even though noting "Since 2002, 1975 law ruled unconstitutional." without citing a supporting (and, one would hope, clarifying) source. EF says, "Massachusetts (overturned)". LP doesn't list it.
  • Oklahoma, which the table lists as YES while noting "since 2010 ..." and citing several supporting sources. EF doesn't list it. LP says, "Oklahoma (2010) – constitutional amendment"

At this point, I am a bit confused. I see that the table in this section is maintained separately, as {{Official languages of U.S. states and territories}} and that it is transcluded by the English-only movement and List of official languages by state articles in addition to this one.

I may or may not try to do some editing in the table template. Whether I do or not, though, I suggest that a note be added to this article disclaiming that the table which it presents here is maintained separately from this article and may differ in detail with parts of the article outside of the table. Alternatively (perhaps better) a disclaimer to that effect could be placed in the table template. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 00:30, 20 October 2014 (UTC)

English IS the official language of the US[edit]

Taken not by government fiat by an act declaring it so. But by common practice and having virtually all it's founding documents written in English, English is indeed the official language. -- (talk) 16:06, 29 January 2015 (UTC)

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Subsection on English[edit]

The Subsection titled 'English' under the 'Main Languages' section says "all but 57,097,826 of U.S. residents speak English 'well' or 'very well'" and claims the U.S. Census as the source. At best, this is misleading. The Census only asks about people > age 5, yet this seems to be including *all* of the people below age 5 among the 57 million. What the U.S. Census actually says (, Table 1) is that 230.9 M out of 291.5 M over age 5 speak *only* English at home and 77.6% of the remaining 60.6 million speak English either 'well' or 'very well'. That leaves only 0.224 * 60,577,020 = 13,569,252 residents over age 5 who don't speak English 'well', 'very well', or exclusively. 13.57 million is a very long way from 57.10 million. Vbscript2 (talk) 21:16, 20 October 2015 (UTC)


That section reads that large numbers of non-Hispanics are learning Spanish due to its presence in the US. That assertion, being partly right, is also simplistic. Sure there are other reasons to learn Spanish. Spanish is not only spoken widely is the US. It is also a world language. In fact it is the most spoken language in the entire Western Hemisphere and the second most spoken language in the world after Chinese in terms of native speakers. It is about time that Americans begin to realize that simple fact with the full perspective. If you add to that that Portuguese and Spanish are two extremely similar languages, with communication being relatively easy among speakers of both languages, the resulting Portuguese-Spanish supra-linguistic community begins to even threaten Chinese supremacy. In sum, the importance of Spanish goes far beyond the US number of Hispanics and so it should be indicated in the article and the fact that Spanish is being learned more and more in the US and anywhere else because it is also a world language: — Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:3498:5EC0:50B4:F449:9CAF:80A (talk) 02:10, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

I've removed your additions to the article as Original Research and Synthesis. You need to find published reliable sources that actually make the claims, not just provide unrelated facts from which you draw your own conclusions. Also, Vandalism has a specific meaning on WP, (such as this edit made by an IP from the same location as you) and labeling edits made in good faith as vandalism is making personal attacks, which is not allowed. - BilCat (talk) 22:48, 31 January 2016 (UTC)

Your conduct can be regarded as vandalism. I have provided sources, one from Fl. University. That is my two pennies for the article. With bad faith users like you Wiki is a loss of time. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

This is English WP. I know it's currently the largest WP by several million articles, but since Spanish is a growing World Language, it should catch up to En.wp eventually. Spanish WP is less strict about using reliable sources that actually support the points being added, and about sources in general, so you should enjoy it there. Hopefully your Spanish is better than your English. - BilCat (talk) 17:31, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

My Spanish is perfect and my English, German, French, Italian and Portuguese probably better than your English. Someone who can see sources and deny them at the same time with lame excuses, someone who probably only knows English while using infantile linguistic ad hominem attacks, describes him or herself. Enjoy it.— Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk)

I'm not denying your sources, but they don't support you conclusions. Find a reliable published source that actually says that students in the US are learning Spanish because it is growing world language. I'm not sure what you think were "infantile linguistic ad hominem attacks", but it's irrelevant to your following English Wikipedia guidelines. - BilCat (talk) 18:40, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

............. I have provided sources. You still insist with childish arguments. Spanish is the most popular second language in American schools and colleges, it is the most spoken language in the Western Hemisphere and the second most spoken language in the world in terms of native speakers, after Chinese. Everyone with some linguistic education knows that, even the British: And you insist that Spanish is not popular in the US Education System because it is not a world language! As said, enjoy your pyrrhic victory, genius! I have a life. Goodbye.— Preceding unsigned comment added by 2602:306:3498:5EC0:C5F:4FDA:1D77:F06A (talk)

Again, that's Synthesis, because you are taking two facts to make a new conclusion not stated in those sources. It's far more likely that Spanish is popular as a second language in schools, as it has been for many years, because of the close location of Mexico and the fairly large number of Spanish speakers living in the US. Does the fact that Spanish is a "world language" have an effect? Probably, but we can't state that as a major reason without citing a specific source that actually states that conclusion. That's not a "childish argument", but Wikipedia policy. - BilCat (talk) 19:30, 1 February 2016 (UTC)

Number of living languages[edit]

According to source 4 on the notes list, which is the website, Grimes 2000, their are 430 living languages in the United States, found on table 7.Carissaw921 (talk) 01:23, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

Sign Language[edit]

Sign language varies depending on where a person is in the world, should be added to the sign language section.Carissaw921 (talk) 01:51, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

That's because there are different sign languages in the world. It's not really a point that needs to be made here, as the article is not about sign languages in general. Also, please post new topics at the bottom of the talk page, not the top. Thanks. - BilCat (talk) 02:02, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

notes section[edit]

number 7 in notes section does not work, needs updatingCarissaw921 (talk) 01:57, 31 March 2016 (UTC)

Thanks, I've tagged it. In the future, you can just add {{dead link}} at the end of the reference, inside the closing ref tag.

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Bengali vs Other Indic[edit]

I've reverted this edit, which added an item reading

11. Bengali – 800,000 [2][3][4]

below "Other Indic Languages", which is entry number 10 on the list. This additions moved all the following entries down one notch.

I have not checked the various sources cited in support of the addition, having noted that the list in the article is introduced as, "According to the American Community Survey 2011, [...]. I note that that cited source ([2]) says at one point, "'Other Indic languages' ((languages such as Punjabi, Bengali, and Marathi) [...]"

Perhaps some rewriting is indicated here; or perhaps not. Wtmitchell (talk) (earlier Boracay Bill) 07:35, 24 October 2016 (UTC)

I agree that some rewriting is needed. It is confusing to list "other" before specific alternatives. Punjabi, Bengali, Marathi have their own places, and therefore should not be examples of "Other Indic languages" - I assume that what was meant that they are meant as examples of "Indic languages", not as "Others". TomS TDotO (talk) 14:11, 24 October 2016 (UTC)