Publication details [#55798]

Faingold, Eduardo D. 2012. Official English in the constitutions and statutes of the fifty states in the United States. Language Problems and Language Planning 36 (2) : 136–148.
Publication type
Article in journal
Publication language
Language as a subject
Place, Publisher
John Benjamins
Journal DOI


The constitutions and legislative statutes of the fifty states in the United States are given an exhaustive screening to identify legal language defining the linguistic obligations of the state and the language rights of individuals and groups. The author suggests that in the United States, “hands-off“ is good language policy not only nationwide but also statewide because states adopting a hands-off linguistic policy are consistent with the Constitution of the United States while states adopting a “hands-on“ policy are in conflict with it. States adopting hands-on language legislation in their constitutions or statutes are deemed to be “nativist“ because they seem unfavorable toward speakers of minority languages, while states adopting a hands-off policy are “non-nativist“ because they seem favorable (or at least neutral) toward speakers of minority languages.