Talk:Languages of the United States/Archive 2

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why cant i add klingon as a american languuage?

Because it isn't one. —Angr 11:27, 21 December 2006 (UTC)

As a constructed language it may have as much right to be here as Esperanto--although even if you could find a citable estimate of fluent Klingon speakers, it would probably be far fewer than that of Esperanto--which itself is lacking a cited estimate, btw. On another score, while Esperanto originates from a Polish Jew in eastern Europe, Klingon comes from Marc Okrand of the good ol' USA. —RVJ 15:02, 9 July 2007 (UTC)

Castle Island

I'm not sure the one that was near Albany is the same as the one near Boston...? Шизомби 23:08, 27 December 2006 (UTC)

German myths

Does anyone know if Pennsylvania ever had any official language? Cbdorsett 07:33, 18 January 2007 (UTC)

Hi there,

I noticed that some of the sources on this page are a bit dubious....for example, an entire paragraph about German not having been voted on as the official US language is backed by a letter to the editor from An editor of a website isn't a proper source, right? Petersian 21:32, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

The Straight Dope is a newspaper column that's available online too, not just a website. It's been around for over 30 years in the U.S. and enjoys a reputation for always citing its sources and almost always getting its facts right. As far as I'm concerned, it's a reliable source, though it can't hurt to double-check what it says against other sources as well. —Angr 06:06, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Pennsylvania does not have an "official" language, but the state has a local form of German for over 300 years. Before the 1950s, large numbers of people in certain areas of Pennsylvania had spoken Pennsylvania Dutch or Pennsdeutch , a dialect of Low German brought over from German settlers in the late 17th and 18th centuries. Some counties and towns throughout Penn. might used Pennsdeutch as a co-official language in printed documents, but the state itself had never declared it a co-official language. Today, only 200,000 people in the state are fluent in Pennsylvania Dutch (German), esp. the Amish or Mennonites in the more rural outskirts in an area bordered by Harrisburg, Reading, Scranton and Norristown. + (talk) 05:31, 1 June 2008 (UTC)

English spoken image

There is an image showing each state with varying states of blue showing, presumably, how many people speak english in that state, but there is no key. Does anyone have a key for this image? --BHC 21:00, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

This one to be specific: --BHC 06:27, 9 February 2007 (UTC)
  • I suspect "=ROUND(((current_value/maximal_value)*(current_value/maximal_value)*255);0)" is all the explanation you're going to get, unless you ask the image creator at cs:Wikipedista diskuse:Martin Kozák (he speaks English) to be more explicit about what the shades of blue mean. —Angr 07:22, 9 February 2007 (UTC)


I didn't see it in the article, but there is a fairly large Mixtec population on the West coast. Mixtec is a language native to Mexico, and there has been a lot of emigration to the U.S. from this group. The numbers of speakers are varied, but I read on a website that there have been 100,000 Mixtec immigrants since 1980 (not sure of the exact date). Anyway, just thought it could be added to the list of languages. 06:10, 22 May 2007 (UTC)biggoergen

Sure, if you can provide a source. —Angr 15:09, 22 May 2007 (UTC)

Unsourced info removed

I'm removing the following information tagged with {{fact}} for some time:

  • [Gullah] is distinct enough to be considered a separate language from English (actually, this hardly needs to be sourced as it is true by definition of all creole languages, but its very obviousness also means it doesn't have to be said in the article at all)
  • Although the use of Scottish Gaelic remains minuscule, some American linguists believe the Scottish presence has consistently created regional dialects in the Southern United States.

The second statement sounds like total BS to me, but if anyone can find a source for it, feel free to re-add it. —Angr 20:34, 22 July 2007 (UTC)

Modern Languages

What exactly does this article mean by 'modern languages'? The usage here seems to include a semi-random mixture of ex-colonial languages and languages of some immigrant communities. It also seems to imply that languages listed in other sections -- for example, all American Indian languages, and several languages with more speakers in the US than some of the "modern languages" -- are not "modern."

It would be an improvement to name this section something other than "modern languages" (even "major languages" or "widely-spoken languages" would be better), but I think what should really be done is to restructure the whole article. There's a lot of redundancy (double list of languages spoken, double discussion of "major languages" under "languages of colonialism", etc.); some old material like the discussion of federal legislation from last year and a quote by Ed Sapir that's now very anachronistic; graphics and maps that are strange or hard hard to use, etc. Jiashudiwanjin 00:03, 3 August 2007 (UTC)

American English

Why doesn't this section include American English? Surely American English is the main modern language spoken in USA so should appear at the top of the list?--PeterR 13:54, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

  • It's first in the section "Languages of Colonialism". The article desperately needs reorganizing, though. —Angr 15:25, 13 August 2007 (UTC)

As i am aware, The use of English in the United States was inherited from British colonization" Then Americans bastardised the english language thus creating a slang. There is no such language called American English, there is English and there is slang. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Peter675 (talkcontribs) 19:51, 25 May 2010 (UTC)


I've reorganized the article into three main sections: Indigenous languages, Immigrant languages, and New American languages. The previous section "Modern languages" didn't seem to be serving any purpose, nor did the contrast between "Languages of colonialism" and "Immigrant languages". Colonists are immigrants too. —Angr 20:40, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

  • Thank you. This reorganization has been needed for a long time. NoIdeaNick 21:40, 13 November 2007 (UTC)


Just wanted to say I added the blue map of Italian for easier reference. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:56, 26 November 2007 (UTC)


One- I really am not sure why Esperanto is here listed. As far as I know, only Westely Snipes actually knows how to speak it, and he does a good job but I still do not see why we need to have this here. It needs a source at least.

Two- The grammar rules of Southern English make it quite distinctive so much so that I feel it needs a specific mention. There is also Louisiana Cajun English which, though spoken using 60% an English lexicon, the grammar is still very French. Unlike Cajun French which seems to go up and down in regards to the number of speakers, Cajun English is increasing.

Three- Along with French, which Cajun French really is, we should also mention the dialect of the Houma Nation which speaks French with French grammar but uses a lot of lexicon from their Native language that they retained from the time before they spoke French. Cajuns and Houma understand about 70% of what each other says.

Four- I know that this is a hotly debated issue but Latin is indeed spoken by a lot of Americans. It may be true that those that speak Latin are usually those that teach it in school and in some of the Very Very conservative monistaries but the fact still exist that Latin is a language spoken in the United States. A lot of Anti-Latin propagandist have tried very hard to sell the idea of Latin as a dead language but it is very likely that far more people speak Latin in those United States then Esperanto and Klingon combined. There are conventions for Latin speakers, weekend camps for Latin speakers and religious meetings for priest where all activities are conducted in Latin. There are a growing number of Latin litterate appearing on the internet, mostly form those United States, that form a significant number of the worldwide Latin speaking population. The number of children learning Latin at home from Mom or Dad is estimated to be about 2000, or at least that is the rumor we keep hearing. If everyone would just stop disrespecting Latin and trying to force it to be a dead language then maybe some real information on the exact numbers that exist will be forthcoming. In any case, I respectfully ask that you add Latin to the list. The last Latin Convention had over 10,000 Latin speakers attend, that has to be enough for you. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:00, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

As a former linguistics student, a "modern language" is one that still has native speakers. A "dead language" is one that stopped being spoken at some point in history. Technically, Latin is not a dead language, because it never really died out, it evolved into several modern languages. It is still not a modern language. I'd be curious to hear of people who speak Latin as a native language today.
To point one: there are definitely real speakers of Esperanto. There are even native speakers of Esperanto, though they are very few. The section could probably stand a citation or two, though.
To point two: I disagree that Southern American English is distinct enough from American English to warrant a special mention. It's no more divergent than the dialects of Eastern New England or New York City.
To point four: If you have reliable sources to cite on the number of Latin speakers, feel free to add it. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 13:04, 7 December 2007 (UTC)

Martin van Buren and ....?

This article stated that Martin van Buren was the first of two presidents for whom English wasn't the first language. Who was the other?

Ahassan05 (talk) 20:29, 26 March 2008 (UTC)ahassan05

Only Martin Van Buren is raised in a family in which the English language wasn't the native tongue, he spoke a form of Dutch that existed in the Hudson Valley, New York. I assume Theodore Roosevelt of Dutch ancestry was fluent in New York Dutch, but his native tongue is English and when he was US president, Roosevelt was a staunch advocate of "Americanization" like the adaptation of English as a common tongue among Americans of all races or ethnicities. Same applies to his nephew Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his presidential office in the 1930's and '40's, he began to authorize officialized legal restrictions of over-air radio programs or stations in foreign languages, in part of World War II and hyper-patriotic feelings at the time. + (talk) 23:11, 28 January 2009 (UTC)

Esperanto and Latin

If Esperanto and Latin are going to be included I think we ought to also include Czech, and Slovak, and Slovene, and Urdu, and Punjabi, and Sindhi, and Pushto, and Hindko... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ahassan05 (talkcontribs) 20:30, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Latin isn't included here, and I'm skeptical about the significance of Esperanto to this article. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 20:39, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Dutch Translations?

I may have missed it, but I'm not finding anything in the linked to source ( ) that verifies this: "The state of New York had state government documents (i.e., vital records) co-written in the Dutch language until the 1920s, in order to preserve the legacy of New Netherlands, though England annexed the colony in 1664."

I also couldn't find any other immediate source online saying the same thing. I'm hesitant to remove the statement, but it needs a new source (unless I continue to just miss where it states the above). Davebug (talk) 16:11, 8 April 2008 (UTC)

We have a tag {{Failed verification}} ({{fv}} for short) for cases like this. —Angr If you've written a quality article... 17:03, 8 April 2008 (UTC)


As much as i remember French language was made illegal sometime around pres. Adams. I think that should definitely be included in the article. I would have added it myself but unfortunatly i don't know much about it. (talk) 17:19, 5 May 2008 (UTC)

That was caused by John Adams was concerned on a perceived "French" espionage intervention on the U.S. government in the 1800's and 1810's when Napoleon was emperor of France, then other presidents followed his example of strict monolingualism in conduct of congressional meetings in the U.S. government ever since. Also the U.S. government in the early 19th century wanted to endorse the education of and advocacy of English for all its citizens, even though there was a presence of French, German, Dutch, Swedish and Welsh-speaking immigrant settlers. French is legal in the U.S. as far I'm concerned. + (talk) 11:29, 28 June 2009 (UTC)

English as the de facto official language of the United States

A number of sources state that English is the de facto official language of the United States.

I believe these are all reliable sources. In the absence of reliable sources stating the contrary, I believe we must treat this as a fact, not merely as an opinion to be attributed to these authors. Angr has objected to this point of view. Joeldl (talk) 09:55, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

The phrase "de facto official language" is both meaningless (since it's a contradiction in terms) and non-NPOV. However, the article already states "It serves as the de facto official language: the language in which government business is carried out" without citing a source, so I'm not sure what more (beyond adding a source) Joeldl wants. —Angr 10:48, 11 May 2008 (UTC)
The phrase "de facto official language" means that various government practices (and perhaps even certain statutes) confer special status on English, although there is no statute that states "English is the official language" in so many words. This can be distinguished from a de jure official language. "Official" here means related to government institutions. The last reference above refers to a text distinguishing "explicit" and "implicit" status, but I don't have access to it.
The weight of your claim as an editor that the phrase is meaningless is much less than that of the fact that it has been used quite deliberately by the academic authors cited above.
Frankly, I think that it's difficult to make the argument that this is non-neutral without citing sources expressing a contrary opinion.
This is an important fact about the United States, and deserves to be mentioned in the first couple of sentences of the article as well as in the infobox. Doing otherwise is misleading as to the true status of English in the federal government. Specifically, I object to your reversion [1] of my edit mentioning this. Joeldl (talk) 11:25, 11 May 2008 (UTC)

I don't know why you are so attached to that wording, Joeld. Stating that there is no official language but that such and such percentage speak English and a description of its use and related legislation is clearly neutral and works pretty well. I tend to agree with Angr's reversion. Putting English in the official language box is clearly wrong. That spot is for the official language, which doesn't exist. Putting an unofficial language there seems to be promoting English as the official language, which is not NPOV. In addition, inserting a quote like "There can be no doubt whatsoever that English is the de facto official language of the United States." does not strike me as NPOV, even if attributed to someone else. The person saying that is trying to make a point, and Wikipedia doesn't need to make that point. --C S (talk) 12:30, 14 May 2008 (UTC)

I never suggested inserting the quote other than as a footnote to support less assertive wording in the body of the text to the effect that though the United States has no de jure official language, English is its de facto official language. Although I believe the quote is entirely correct, I agree that that particular wording might be out of place in an encyclopedia.
Currently, the wording of the lead presents the fact that English is used by 82% of the population as a sort of counterpoint to the fact that the United States has no official language, and you suggest this is enough. A much more relevant counterpoint would be the de facto status of English in the federal government. If you can imagine a hypothetical person who knew nothing of the United States, there would be nothing in the lead for them to distinguish the US from, say, an African country where 82% of the population spoke a local language, but government operations were universally carried out in a completely different language without de jure status, or perhaps even in a haphazard mix of different languages. I think that "de facto official language" is an objective and accurate summary of the situation. When you consider that (literally) 99.9% of federal documents are published in English only, this goes well beyond what can be deduced from the simple fact that 82% of Americans speak English natively.
I disagree that there is anything inherently non-neutral about the language I'm suggesting. I don't think that stating an extremely important fact about the United States government in the lead paragraph necessarily endorses one position or another. Second, if you read any of the sources quoted above, you will see that they are generally unfavourable to the English-only movement. These authors view the fact the government already functions solely in English, without English needing to be "protected," as one rebuttal (among the thousands available) of alarmist claims that English is in danger in the United States. It is conceivable that some people might draw contrary political conclusions, but that's not Wikipedia's business. Facts are.
I believe that, if anything, it is the omission from the lead of this information that may be perceived as non-neutral. People who do know the United States will see that this basic fact is deemphasized, and the article will lose credibility in their eyes. Seeing that the US has no official language really jumps out at you, and not seeing any hint of recognition that that's not entirely true - as our experience tells us - is unsettling, and I would say rightly so. Joeldl (talk) 14:38, 14 May 2008 (UTC)
To clarify, although Angr has some objection to it, I don't object necessarily to the usage of "de facto official language". But your edit was just plain bad. Don't put an unofficial language into the official language spot on the infobox; that is not only inaccurate but could easily be seen as POV. I also don't like that quote in the footnote. I'm sure it must be easier to back up the statement without that kind of wording. Reading the above, it doesn't seem as if Angr is actually against removing "de facto official language" from the article. Besides the other aspects of your edits I've mentioned, perhaps what he is mainly objecting to is the placement of the phrase in the lede section. Your words such as "really jumps out" and "unsettling" indicate a certain level of preconception about the United States. But as far as the supposed non-neutrality of not having this information in the lede, I can't understand or share your feelings. Obviously I come to this with a different set of preconceived notions than you do. --C S (talk) 01:03, 20 May 2008 (UTC)
If you check the French-language site above, which is devoted solely to language issues, you will see that they have a sort of "infobox" about the United States, and it says this:
Langues officielles: anglais (de facto)
I believe this site is a reliable source, as the content has been written by a linguist. Is there anything that leads you to believe that the author is partisan in some way?
As for the wording in the quote, if you are not claiming that the source is unreliable, I don't see why it should not be included. What we are doing is including the words of the authors so people can verify that what the authors said supports the assertion made in the article, without having to refer to the original source.
It is normal to include information in the lead about the language of government operations. This is such important information that it would normally be included in the lead paragraph of an article on the languages of any country. The fact that many authors have referred to English as the de facto official language is an indication, to me at least, that just stating that the U.S. has no official language and leaving it at that is an oversimplification and therefore somewhat misleading.
I'm sorry if you feel that my language is hyperbolic, but your allegation that that shows I have "preconceptions" about the United States is not grounded. The reality of how the federal government operates is, I believe, fairly well reflected in this quote from linguist Geoffrey Nunberg (see Lingo Jingo, 2002):
A recent General Accounting Office survey found that the total number of federal documents printed in languages other than English over the past five years amounted to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the total number of titles [...] Joeldl (talk) 17:25, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
Whether or not some other site lists an unofficial language as the official language in their infobox has absolutely no bearing on this article and its infobox. Whether or not it is a reliable source of information has nothing to do with this either. Wikipedia standards are not based on following the standards of this other site. And we do not list official languages in infoboxes when there is no actual official language. As for your preconceptions, I was referring to your distress at not seeing this material in the lede. Certainly many people see the lede and are not distressed by it. I don't question your statistic. But whether or not someone gets upset or has some reaction to the lede has less to do with some statistic and more to do with what he or she thinks is the appropriate way to convey that kind of information. To use your example of a hypothetical reader from last time, I find it hard to believe that somebody who can read English knows absolutely nothing about the United States and could somehow be misled into thinking that despite the prevalence of English in the population that the majority of government business was done in some other language. It is precisely in your attempt to clarify matters for this nonexistent hypothetical reader that the issue of neutraliy arises. --C S (talk) 18:40, 21 May 2008 (UTC)
I agree that Wikipedia is not bound by what another website does. However, your objection was that inclusion of English in the infobox would be non-neutral. The fact that a reliable non-partisan source does it substantially addresses this issue.
As for what one can be expected to know or not about the United States, it seems that information which would be included in the lead for any other country should also be for the United States. I believe that it would be quite possible for a person, on reading the lead paragraph, to underestimate the degree to which languages other than English are excluded from federal government operations. Some countries with similar majorities for one language do not have it as their sole official language (de facto or de jure).
At the moment, the lead talks about attempts to make English the official language. It is highly relevant that the government already functions in English. This can be read as supporting an argument either for or against making it official, but that English is the de facto official language is more a matter of objective fact than one of interpretation.
The current wording can be taken as suggesting indirectly that, given that 82% of Americans speak English natively, it would be appropriate to make English official. This is because these two facts are juxtaposed in a single sentence. Joeldl (talk) 06:45, 22 May 2008 (UTC)
The United States is a common law country. The American Customary system of weights and measurements is an official system of weights and measurements comes from legal precedent not de jure legislation. The fact that all US laws are written in English, that translations thereof have no legal standing in US courts, that legislative and court proceedings always use English (translating the testimony of non-English speakers into English) effectively means that English is the common law official language of the US.

Immigrant languages section

The Immigrant languages section looks like it is mostly opinion or WP:OR. It also appears to be inconsistent with info in at least some of the following:

—Preceding unsigned comment added by Wtmitchell (talkcontribs) 01:56, June 2, 2008 (UTC)

Hmmm... I see that I added this section as a drive-by comment in this June 1 edit, neglecting to sign it. I haven't come back and spent any time trying to reconcile the Immigrant languages section with the items I listed above. Perhaps I'll get around to doing that (perhaps not - I'd rather spend time doing other things). -- Boracay Bill (talk) 01:47, 29 September 2008 (UTC)

New Jersey-English official language

I noticed today that someone removed New Jersey from the list of states with English as an official language, so I did some searching to find out why it was added then removed. Bottom line is that English is not the official language of the state of New Jersey yet. Assembly Bills 468 & 1099 and Senate Bill 2512 would designate English as the official language[2], but I don't think that it has been voted on yet. Does anyone know when the actual vote will take place and when it would be scheduled to be implemented if passed? I found a news story about Bogota, NJ voting on November 6[3], but that's only for that particular place. Kman543210 (talk) 22:14, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

Map of English language distribution in the United States

In its current form, the map that it entitled "English language distribution in the United States" is uninformative. What is it attempting to display? What do the shades of blue indicate? In other words, without a legend (key) the colors are not meaningful. Can whoever created the map generate a legend (at least a verbal key) so that we will know what it means? Otherwise, I would suggest we remove the map. Not home (talk) 22:03, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

Indeed, all the blue maps suffer the same ambiguity. I am smart enough to understand that darker blue indicates a higher value. However, is it higher in terms of raw number (i.e., number of speakers)? Or is it a higher value in terms of percentage of total speakers. Also, are the breaks between shades of blue based on Natural Breaks, Equal Interval, Equal Area, Quartile/Quantile, or Standard Deviation, etc.? Each one of these classification systems would provide radically different looking maps, and therefore reveal very different details of the overall pattern. Unfortunately, as they stand now, they are almost meaningless. Can someone fix them based on the original data? Not home (talk) 22:11, 24 June 2009 (UTC)

American Sign Language

American Sign Language is not a "new" language. It's standardized, old form has existed in the United States since about the 1700s. I propose it be moved to be listed under the main catalog of languages at the top of the page.


The map shows Louisiana in purple (no official language) but the bulleted lists shows it in the "official English" list, with an unattributed date of 1807, and in the multiple languages list, with a later date. Which is it? Does the 20th century recognition of some status for French invalidate some law passed in 1807? At any rate, it cannot be in both lists... but I don't know enough to propose the correct edit. Claude Baudoin —Preceding undated comment added 05:35, 15 November 2009 (UTC).