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America is awash in foreign languages, even in rural areas, and some members of Congress say that is building support to declare English the nation’s official language.
U.S. English Inc., an advocacy group working for a declaration that English is the official language, says it found that 322 languages are spoken in the country, and 24 of those languages are spoken in every state and the District. California has the most languages spoken, with 207, while Wyoming had the fewest with 56.
Their report, released last week, follows closely Rep. Steve King’s introduction of an official-English bill in the House, and sets the stage for Mr. King’s renewed push for the legislation. The Iowa Republican says the time is right to move forward.
Brent A. Wilkes, national executive director of League of United Latin American Citizens, one of the groups that opposes the bill, says nothing is likely to happen this year.
“I think it’s even less likely because the president is against it, and almost all the Democrats are against it, and even a majority of Republicans don’t support the measure,” he says. “I think the reason for that is, it’s really just a slap in the face. It doesn’t really do anything to promote English learning.”
Mr. King’s bill would require the federal government to conduct business in English, but would not put restrictions on languages spoken in private business dealings. Polls show overwhelming support among Americans for making English the official language, and Mr. King’s bill has about 60 co-sponsors.
(Posted on March 16, 2005)