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Auteur: Eduardo FAINGOLD

Official English in the constitutions and legislative statutes of the 50 states in the United States

Abstract/Résumé: The drafting of language legislation highlights the existence of language conflict between minority and majority languages coexisting within nations. Yet, language legislation can be used to solve such conflicts by legally defining the status of such languages. One or more languages can be targeted for promotion and development through the drafting of explicit language legislation that specifies both language rights for individuals and groups and language obligations by the nation according to law (Phillipson 2003). Language legislation can be the result of major initiatives, i.e. drafting or amending a constitution or, quite often, the result of a legislative initiative to change the legal statutes of the nation or state without making any changes in the constitution (Leclerc 1994 – 2007). The constitutions and legislative statutes of the 50 states in the US are given an exhaustive screening to identify legal language defining the linguistic obligations of the state and the language rights of individuals and groups (Faingold 2004). The author suggests that in the US, “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” (official English) 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 toward them. References Faingold, E. D. 2004. Language rights and language justice in the constitutions of the world. Language Problems and Language Planning 28:11-24. Leclerc, J. 1994–2007. L’aménagement linguistique dans le monde, from, visited September 1, 2011. Phillipson, R. 2003. English-Only Europe? Challenging Language Policy. New York: Routledge.