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Expert Explains Why English Isn’t The Official Language Of The United States

An expert has explained why English is not the official language of the USA.
Credit: Alamy

An expert has explained why English is not the official language of the USA.

We’ve all seen the tirades of angry Karens explaining that since someone is in America, they should be speaking English.

In fact, one such video showing a lawyer in New York berating Spanish staff in a Manhattan restaurant went viral after CNN posted it.

Not only do these angry rants just seem a little bit bigoted – but they’re also just factually incorrect.

And now, an expert has explained why English isn’t the official language of the United States.

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Translation Excellence explains that: “English in today’s world is everywhere; it is an international language of business, politics, and one of the top languages spoken worldwide.”

So it would make sense that Americans would share the same misconception that British is their official language.

But, it turns out, that’s just not true.

The site goes on: “It may be the primary language that the U.S. government and media conduct themselves in, but it has never been formally declared. In fact, the U.S. has no designated language, making it one of the very few countries in this scenario.”

People talking.
English is not the official language of the USA. Credit: Vera Arsic/Pexels

Yep, you read that right – there’s actually no official language for the USA!

On the website, it states: “The United States does not have an official language. English is the most widely used language in the U.S., and some states designate it as their official language.”

But what’s even more interesting is the reason why English isn’t the official language…

“The Founding Fathers didn’t see a need to declare one,” Dr Wayne Wright, a professor of language and literacy at Purdue University, tells CNN.

“English was pretty much the dominant language of the United States at the time so there really wasn’t a need to protect it. And they didn’t want to offend their fellow Americans who helped fight for independence.”

During the country’s founding, German, Dutch, Flemish, French, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Polish, Gaelic, Portuguese, Italian, and other languages were all spoken.

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And, as per Vocal: “It was thought unjust to favour one language over another in this multilingual nation of immigrants who spoke a wide variety of tongues.

“John Adams suggested to the Continental Congress in 1780 that English be declared the official language of the United States, but his proposal was rejected because it was seen as ‘undemocratic and a threat to individual liberty’.”

Not having an official language is supposed to be a testament to the egalitarian nature of the USA, and any push towards making it English seem to be in opposition to these values.

“The sad thing about debates about language is that they’re rarely about language itself, but the people who happen to speak those languages,” Wright explains.

Dr Beatriz Arias, a senior research scientist at the Center for Applied Linguistics, agrees, adding: “There is a political equation of Americanness with speaking English. People who don’t speak English are just as American as those who do.”

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Written by Annie Walton Doyle

Annie Walton Doyle is a content editor at IGV who specialises in trending, lifestyle and entertainment news. She graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London, with a degree in English Literature. Annie has previously worked with organisations such as The Huffington Post, The Guardian, The Telegraph, Harvard University, the Pulitzer Prize and 22 Words.