Carmine Petteruti

Linguistic Issue in the USA between Centrifugal Forces and Multilinguism

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The U.S. Federal policy on linguistic rights in multilinguistic society like the United States must take into account claims of "English only" movements. In that context, Federal policy, in the past and more recently, has appeared much more favorable to multilingualism and multiculturalism than State policies. 31 of 52 states adopted laws for "Official English language" and there are attempts for English to be the official language at the federal level too. The debate on the constitutionality of these legislative proposals showed original positions like these which refer to wider use of international conventions and principles of human rights. Also, U.S. courts show conflicting guidelines on the language rights issue with different positions between the Supreme Court and State Courts. Therefore, in the United States the issue of language rights is strongly influenced by federalism and by the degree of willingness of Americans to refer to states government rather than the Federal government. A comparative study with other realities, although characterized by different historical and social circumstances such as Canada, can be useful tool for understanding the dynamics and language issues in the United States.


  • Language
  • English Only
  • Federalism
  • Discrimination
  • Supreme Court


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