Language Matters: The Languages of the United States

The United States is a country of immingrants, which makes it well known for being a so-called “melting pot” of cultures and peoples.  It is also known for having no official language, which means that while English is by far the most common language spoken, knowledge of English is not required to become a citizen.

So what languages, other than English, do Americans speak?

The Washington Post has an interactive graphic with some answers (go to the page to zoom in):

This map shows counties where at least ten percent of the population speak a language other than English at home.  Pink indicates Spanish, green indicates Native American languages, blue indicates French, and yellow indicates German.

My home county, San Francisco, which is so small that you have to zoom in on the map to see it, is bright blue, which means “other.”  45.3% of people in my county speak a language other than English at home, with the most common language being Chinese.

A country with no official language and people who speak a variety of languages faces unique challenges in education, government, and infrastructure.  If all the road signs are in English, for example, how does a Spanish-speaking citizen navigate the roads?

How many languages are spoken in your home country?  Is there more than one official language?

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