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Illinois State Language

English dictionary; photo by Simon Robertson on Flickr (noncommercial use permitted with attribution / share alike).

Official State Language of Illinois

Illinois designated English as the official state language in 1969 (one of the first states to make English the official language). All State Languages

Many states now recognize official state languages (usually English, but two states recognize American sign language as an official language, and both Hawaii and Alaska recognize Native languages as official languages of the state). Illinois originally stipulated "American" as the official language, but the law was amended in 1969 because Illinois residents continued to speak and teach "English."

1923 Declaration of "American" as the Official Language of Illinois

WHEREAS, Since the creation of the American Republic there have been certain Tory elements in our country who have never become reconciled to our republican institutions and have ever clung to the tradition of King and Empire; and

WHEREAS, America has been a haven of liberty and place of opportunity for the common people of all nations; and

WHEREAS, These strangers within our gates who seek economic betterment, political freedom, larger opportunities for their children and citizenship for themselves, come to think of our institutions as American and our language as the American language; and

WHEREAS, The name of the language of a country has a powerful psychological influence in stimulating and preserving the national ideal; and

WHEREAS, The languages of other countries bear the names of the countries to which they belong, ... now therefore

Sec. 1. Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly: The official language of the State of Illinois shall be known hereafter as the "American" language and not as the "English" language.

Source: H.L. Mencken, The American Language, 4th ed., abridged, New York: Knopf, 1985, pp. 92-93.