Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Finally, the Laotian translation of my blog can proceed!

For those who don't know, the US in all its history still has never designated a certain language as our "official" one; there's no law, for example, that says that citizens must know English in order to be eligible for government benefits, or that you're required to speak English to a bus driver, business owners, etc., even though English has sorta become our "unofficial" language here over the centuries. There are all kinds of xenophobic groups that would like to change this, of course; an organization called "US English" is one of them, and recently published a fascinating study, based on the most recent Census, on just how many languages are being spoken in America these days, and have put it up at their site as a searchable document. Far from emphasizing their point, in my opinion, the document instead helps us marvel at just what a rich variety of language and expression we have here in the US, and just how great it is that we've never actually designated English as an "official" language.

For those who are curious, by the way, the top three languages spoken at home here in Chicago, where I live, are: English (6.3 million speakers); Spanish (1.2 million); and Polish (186,000). According to this report, there are also 3,900 French Creole speakers in the Chicago area as well, along with 170 speakers of Mongolian. Thank God - maybe now I can finally start figuring out what those Mongolian porn sites I'm always going to are saying. (Thanks to Bookslut for pointingg this out.)