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Language Policy and Planning in the United States


While the United States has never declared a national official language, the primacy of English in public affairs has been well-established since the time of the earliest colonies (Crawford 1992a, Ruiz 1988). This is so in spite of the reluctance on the part of the British colonial authorities and, later, leaders of the early republic, to legislate matters of language—considered traditionally one of the most fundamental freedoms of civilized societies (Heath 1992). English even at that time was considered a language of political, economic, and social power and prestige; its preeminence in the United States, as elsewhere, has been reinforced in recent times by its establishment as a language of technology.

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T. Amorose 1989. The official-language movement in the United States: Contexts, issues and activities. Language Problems and Language Planning. 13.264279.

P. Trudgill 1991. Language maintenance and language shift: Preservation versus extinction. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. 1.1.6169.

J. A. Vélez and C. W. Schweers . 1993. A U.S. colony at a linguistic crossroads: The decision to make Spanish the official language of Puerto Rico. Language Problems and Language Planning.17.2.117139.

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Annual Review of Applied Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0267-1905
  • EISSN: 1471-6356
  • URL: /core/journals/annual-review-of-applied-linguistics
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