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|1||University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Department of Physics and Astronomy
Address: 510 Stadium Drive, Lincoln, NE 68588-0111
Phone: (402) 472-9221
Email: [email protected]
Languages in the USA
There is no official state language in the USA. Proposals have repeatedly been put forward to legislate the status of English as the state language in the United States, but such a decision has not been made at the federal level (although it has been taken by a number of states). However, English (more precisely, American English) is actually the national language of the country. English is spoken by about eighty percent of the residents of the United States of America as their native language, and the vast majority of the US population can speak it well. Nevertheless, in recent decades, the number of people in America for whom English is their native language has been gradually decreasing (in 1980 there were 89% of such people, in 1990 – 86%, now – about 80% of the US population).
The second most spoken language in the United States is Spanish, spoken by more than twelve percent of the population of the United States of America, and is especially spoken in the South and West of the United States. The proportion of US residents whose first language is Spanish is growing rapidly.
|Language Prevalence in the US (Among people over the age of five)|
|Language||US population that speaks this language|
|English||about 238,000,000 people|
|Spanish||about 41,000,000 people|
|Chinese||about 3,400,000 people|
|Tagalog (Filipino)||about 1,700,000 people|
|Vietnamese||about 1,500,000 people|
|Arab||about 1,200,000 people|
|French||about 1,200,000 people|
|Korean||about 1,100,000 people|
|Deutsch||about 900,000 people|
|Russian||about 900,000 people|
English is the official language in thirty-two US states, and in thirty of them it is the only one, in the state of Hawaii Hawaiian is also recognized as the official language, and in Alaska, in addition to English, twenty other Native American languages are official.
In some states, the official language is not legally established, but in fact there are several of them: in Louisiana and Maine – English and French, in New Mexico – English and Spanish.
In all territories of the United States, English is the official language, in addition, Spanish is also the official language in Puerto Rico, Samoan in American Samoa, Chamorro in Guam, and Chamorro and Caroline in the Northern Mariana Islands.
Indigenous languages of the United States
In the United States, there are several communities of native Americans, Indians and Eskimos who use their native languages in everyday life. The most common Indian languages are:
- Navajo (spoken by about 180,000 people, predominantly in the states of Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah);
- Dakota (about 20 thousand people, most of them in the states of North Dakota and South Dakota);
- Cherokee (about 22 thousand people, in Oklahoma and North Carolina);
- Yupik (about 16 thousand people, Eskimos of Alaska);
- oodham (about 12 thousand people in Arizona and California);
- Choctaw (choctaw, about 11 thousand people in Alabama);
- keres (about 11 thousand people in New Mexico) and others.
Interestingly, the Navajo Indian language was used during World War II by the US Navy for secure radio communications. The Navajo Indians sat at the receiver and transmitter and talked to each other in their native language. The Japanese (and this method of “encryption” was used mainly in the Pacific theater of operations, where the United States fought with Japan) could not “split” the language of Navajo radio operators.