what did native americans speak

What Native Language Do Americans Speak?

(Last Updated On: October 14, 2022)

United States of America

The United States of America has its own unique set of regional languages and dialects, many of which are still spoken today by its citizens. The two most prominent languages in the country are English and Spanish, both of which represent over 70% of the American population’s native language (native Americans/English speakers).

Perhaps you have been wondering what native language Americans speak, here’s a breakdown of some of the most commonly spoken Native American languages in the U.S.

How many American citizens speak English at home

According to the 2016 American Community Survey, 58.7 percent of American citizens in Central America speak English at home. Of those who don’t, the most common languages spoken are Spanish (21.4 percent), Chinese (2.9 percent), and Tagalog (1.6 percent).

There are also a handful of speakers of indigenous languages, like Hopi, and foreign languages like Arabic and Vietnamese. While English is the common language in the United States, it doesn’t have official status.

That distinction belongs to 19th-century legislation which declared that the official language for all government business shall be English. However, according to the same 2016 survey, only 37 percent of American citizens are fluent in English.

The Administration for Native Americans aims to provide assistance to native peoples by helping preserve their cultures, traditions, and languages. Filipino Americans represent one of the fastest-growing immigrant groups in the U.S., with about 3 million people identifying as such.

The Hopi language is isolated within the Uto-Aztecan family, meaning that it has no known living relatives; this makes it an invaluable piece of cultural heritage, with fluent speakers now aging out and dying off.

More than 1/3rd of Central America’s population speaks indigenous or mestizo languages; in Guatemala alone, 44% speak an indigenous language as their mother tongue.

native american written language
what do native americans speak

How many U.S. citizens speak English as a second language

There are an estimated 37 million people in the United States who speak English as a second language. This represents about 12% of the population. However, there is no official language in the United States.

English-only laws have been proposed from time to time, but they have never been enacted. Individual states are free to set their own language policies. California has chosen not to translate its state documents into languages other than Spanish or any other indigenous language spoken by more than two percent of its citizens.

The U.S. government does not require American schools to teach any particular foreign languages, though some schools may offer them and most public universities will accept credits earned at another institution if they are taught in that university’s primary language.

The Defense Department operates programs for those wishing to learn additional languages including Mandarin Chinese and Hindi; however, these courses are voluntary and do not confer any military rank or status on those taking them.

Geographic breakdown of second languages in the United States

More than 60 million people in the United States speak a language other than English, with Spanish being the most common non-English language spoken. However, there are more than 300 languages spoken in the US, including indigenous languages.

California is one of six states where less than 5% of the population speaks English at home and Washington D.C., Puerto Rico, Guam, and American Samoa are all 100% English-speaking regions.

These states/territories all have policies that promote bilingualism and individual languages such as Chamorro or Hawaiian Creole have some legal protections. English-only laws were passed by 20th-century politicians who wanted to assimilate immigrants into American culture and make them learn to speak English.

They had an underlying motive for this because they wanted to weaken immigrant communities so they couldn’t resist assimilation efforts by these politicians and law enforcement officials. One of the first major impacts these laws had was on Spanish speakers. This was when America’s borders were closed during World War II, which led to a resurgence in French speakers after 1945 when many Latin Americans migrated to America for better economic opportunities.

The laws passed today differ from those from the 20th century because now everyone has their own interests at heart: protecting individual rights against discrimination, preservation of ethnic identity, and maintaining heritage cultures.

native americans speak
what language did native americans speak

Where are all these languages spoken?

According to the Census Bureau, more than 60 million people in the United States speak a language other than English at home. That’s more than one in five of us! Spanish is the most common language spoken after English, with more than 41 million speakers. Other languages spoken here include Chinese, Vietnamese, Hindi, Tagalog, and French including African Languages. There are also a lot of Filipino Americans. Check out the list of languages worldwide.

All of these languages are often grouped together as Asian or Indo-European languages because they have some similarities with English when it comes to sentence structure. But their vocabularies can be very different from English words.

Learning another language has benefits beyond becoming bilingual; it also makes your brain work differently which can improve cognitive abilities like problem-solving and reasoning skills.

FAQ’S

What is the true language of America?

The United States has no official language. However, English is the de facto national language. Most government functions are conducted in English and it is the primary language used in businesses, schools, and the media. In some states, including Arizona, English-only laws require that all government documents be written only in English or translated into English by an interpreter.

Is American English a native language?

No, American English is not a native language. In fact, there is no such thing as a native American language. English is the only official language of the United States, but there are many other languages spoken here, including Spanish, Chinese, and French, and African Languages.

What was America's language before English?

The first European settlers to arrive on American shores spoke a variety of languages, including Spanish, Dutch, French, and Swedish. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that English began to gain traction as the dominant language, thanks in part to English-only laws that were passed at the state and federal levels.

Are any Native American languages still spoken?

Yes, there are still many Native American languages spoken today in each American community. However, English-only laws have made it difficult for these languages to be passed down to future generations. As a result, many of these languages are in danger of becoming extinct.

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