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Language situation in the U.S.

   Does the U.S. have an official language?

You might be surprised that for more than 200 years America have gotten by without declaring English as its official language, despite the fact that it is the de facto national language of the country. It is used for all official documents and pronouncements. By law some documents are printed in multiple languages in areas with large numbers of non-English speakers. As a result of the English Only Movement, 28 states now have English as their official language, including Hawai’i which has two official languages (English and Hawaiian). Other states have not adopted English as their official language. One state (Hawai’i) is officially bilingual, and three states (Louisiana, Maine, and New Mexico) have facto bilingual policies.

   States / Territories with Official English
   Bilingual states/territories
Hawai’i (English and Hawaiian)
American Samoa English and Samoan
Guam English and Chamorro
Northern Mariana Islands English, Chamorro, Carolinian
Puerto Rico English and Spanish


   Languages other than English spoken in the U.S.

The number of people in the United States who speak a language other than English at home has risen 158% over the past three decades, faster than the overall population growth of 38%. 60.6 million, or nearly one in five people aged 5 or older, spoke a language other than English at home in 2011, according to the U.S. 2011 Census Report on language use in the U.S. The data showed that among those who speak a language other than English at home, 37.6 million, or two-thirds, speak Spanish. Chinese was the next most widely spoken language with nearly 2.9 million speakers. Vietnamese, Russian, Persian, Armenian, Korean, and Tagalog have seen their use more than double over the last 30 years. Other languages such as Hindi and Swahili have also experienced significant growth.

   Which languages are spoken in the U.S.?

Language Use in the United States: 2011

Population 5 years and older 291.5
Spoke only English at home 231
Spoke a language other than English at home 60.6
Spanish or Spanish Creole 37.6
Other Indo-European Languages
French 1.3
French Creole 0.8
Italian 0.7
Portuguese 0.6
German 1.1
Yiddish 0.2
Other West Germanic Languages 0.3
Scandinavian Languages 0.1
Greek 0.3
Russian 0.9
Polish 0.6
Serbian, Croatian 0.3
Other Slavic languages 0.3
Armenian 0.2
Persian 0.4
Gujarati 0.4
Hindi 0.5
Urdu 0.4
Other Indic languages 0.8
Other Indo-European languages 0.5
Asian and Pacific Island languages
Chinese 2,9
Japanese 0.4
Korean 1.1
Mon-Khmer, Cambodian 0.2
Hmong 0.2
Thai 0.2
Laotian 0.1
Vietnamese 1.4
Other Asian Languages 0.9
Tagalog 1.6
Other languages Pacific Island languages
Native American languages
Navajo 0.2
Other Native American languages 0.2
Semitic languages
Arabic 0.9
Hebrew 0.2
Other languages
Hungarian 0.1
African languages 0.9
All other languages 0.1


U.S. 2011 Census Bureau Language Mapper

To find out where languages other than English are spoken in the U.S, click on the Language Mapper, a tool that shows where there are concentrations of speakers of the language that you are interested in.