Languages of Texas

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Of the languages spoken in Texas none has been designated the official language. Around two-thirds of Texas residents speak solely English at home, while another 29.10% speak Spanish. [1] Throughout the history of Texas, English and Spanish have at one time or another been the primary dominant language used by government officials, with German recognized as a minority language from Statehood until the first world war.

Texas State of the United States of America

Texas is the second largest state in the United States by both area and population. Geographically located in the South Central region of the country, Texas shares borders with the U.S. states of Louisiana to the east, Arkansas to the northeast, Oklahoma to the north, New Mexico to the west, and the Mexican states of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas to the southwest, and has a coastline with the Gulf of Mexico to the southeast.

English language West Germanic language

English is a West Germanic language that was first spoken in early medieval England and eventually became a global lingua franca. It is named after the Angles, one of the Germanic tribes that migrated to the area of Great Britain that later took their name, as England. Both names derive from Anglia, a peninsula in the Baltic Sea. The language is closely related to Frisian and Low Saxon, and its vocabulary has been significantly influenced by other Germanic languages, particularly Norse, and to a greater extent by Latin and French.

Spanish language Romance language

Spanish or Castilian is a Romance language that originated in the Castile region of Spain and today has hundreds of millions of native speakers in the Americas and Spain. It is a global language and the world's second-most spoken native language, after Mandarin Chinese.

Contents

Official language status

Texas currently does not have an official language; though historically at various points in time there have been laws giving both official status and recognition to English, Spanish, German and Norwegian.

An official language, also called state language, is a language given a special legal status in a particular country, state, or other jurisdiction. Typically a country's official language refers to the language used in government. The term "official language" does not typically refer to the language used by a people or country, but by its government, as "the means of expression of a people cannot be changed by any law".

In 1834 with Degree No. 270 of Coahuila y Tejas gave both English and Spanish official status in Texas. [2] In 1836 the Provisional Government of Texas establishing the Judiciary of Texas provided that Court of Records may be in English. [3]

Coahuila y Tejas former Mexican state

Coahuila y Tejas was one of the constituent states of the newly established United Mexican States under its 1824 Constitution.

The Consultation served as the provisional government of Mexican Texas from October 1835 to March 1836 during the Texas Revolution. Tensions rose in Texas during early 1835 as throughout Mexico federalists began to oppose the increasingly centralist policies of the government. In the summer, Texians elected delegates to a political convention to be held in Gonzales in mid-October. Weeks before the convention and war began, settlers took up arms against Mexican soldiers at the Battle of Gonzales. The convention was postponed until November 1 after many of the delegates joined the newly organized volunteer Texian Army to initiate a siege of the Mexican garrison at San Antonio de Bexar. On November 3, a quorum was reached in San Antonio. Within days, the delegates passed a resolution to define why Texians were fighting. They expressed allegiance to the deposed Constitution of 1824 and maintained their right to form an independent government while this document was not in effect. Henry Smith was elected governor of the new provisional government and the remaining delegates formed a General Council. In the next weeks, the council authorized the creation of a new regular army to be commanded by Sam Houston. As Houston worked to establish an army independent from the existing volunteer army, the council repeatedly interfered in military matters.

1837 the Congress of the Republic of Texas passed a joint resolution directing the Secretary of State provide an official Spanish translation of general laws, [4] and the act of congress incoprorating the City of San Antonio provided that public schools be enrected that taught in English, [5] later in 1841 the Spanish Language law was suspended [6] for one year until being reenacted in 1842 [7]

In 1846, the newly admitted State of Texas enacted legislation required that the laws of Texas be translated into German in addition to Spanish [6]

In 1856, an act was passed allowed for legal proceedings in Justice of the Peace courts in counties west of the Guadalupe River (excluding Nueces, Refugio and San Patricio) to be conducted solely in Spanish if the Judge and all parties spoke Spanish. [8]

In 1858, an act was passed requiring public schools teach primarily in English.; [9] In the same year the law requiring the translation of Texas criminal law was briefly extended to Norwegian for two years. [10]

1893 State law was passed requiring all public schools to teach exclusively in English. [11]

In 1925 it was made a criminal offense to give instruction in Spanish in Public schools, this law was amended in 1927 to allow Spanish instruction in Elementary schools located in counties bordering Mexico with at least one city of 5,000 population. [12] [12]

Nevertheless, English (specifically, American English) is the language used for legislation, regulations, executive orders, treaties, education, federal court rulings, and all other official pronouncements; Spanish is also heavily spoken in Texas due to the large number of Tejanos, Mexicans and other local and foreign Spanish-speakers.[ citation needed ] The Government of Texas has been required since 1837 by joint resolution of the Congress of the Republic of Texas to provide Spanish translation of lawsthrough Section 2054.116 of the Government Code, mandates that state agencies provide information on their website in Spanish to assist residents who have limited English, [13] and the Secretary of State since January 1842 French, German, Czech, and Polish are strong minority languages due to several old communities hailing from their respective mother countries. French is most prevalent in Northeastern Texas, near Louisiana, understandably while Southwestern Louisiana Creole language is spoken in Southeastern Texas (Houston, Beaumont, Port Arthur, and Orange). German, Polish, and Czech are mainly spoken in Central Texas, mainly near San Antonio and Austin.

History

Tombstone in Dallas. Facts in English, but Bible verse in German English-German tombstone in Texas.jpg
Tombstone in Dallas. Facts in English, but Bible verse in German

As Spaniards settled Texas, they brought their native language, supplanting earlier Native American languages such as Caddo, the language from which Texas derives its name, and Comanche from the end of 17th century. Early immigrants that arrived directly from Europe such as Germans, Poles, Czechs, [14] and Sorbs [15] (also called Wends) even established their own separate towns where their native tongues became the dominant language. Texas German and Texas Silesian are varieties of German and Silesian (closely related to Polish) that are indigenous to Texas. Today the dominant language in Texas, as in most areas of the United States, is English.

Texan English

Contrary to popular belief, there is no exclusive Texan dialect of American English. However, some linguists contest that there is a unique subset of Southern English spoken in Texas. [16] According to the Phonological Atlas of the University of Pennsylvania virtually all native Texans speak [17] Southern American English, while other studies claim that Texas is home to several dialects of American English. All of East Texas and usually most of central and north Texas are classified as speaking the Southern dialect, which is the same dialect being spoken in north Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, and northern Alabama. Usually it is portions of west and south Texas that are classified as speaking a Western or Southwestern dialect. According to the University of Tampere atlas, the same Southwestern dialect is spoken in South and West Texas and southern California, extreme southern Nevada, Arizona and New Mexico. [18] The Gulf Southern dialect is spoken in most of Central, East, and North Texas with the Texas Panhandle speaking the Midland South dialect, which is shared by those who live in Kansas, Missouri, and Southern Nebraska. [18]

Other languages

Recent immigrants from other US regions and foreign countries are causing a linguistic shift in Texas. Spanish speakers have risen to almost a third of the population; Vietnamese and Chinese [19] have replaced German and French to become the third and fourth most spoken languages in Texas, respectively; with Hindi, Korean, Kurdish especially from Abtaf, from ASAD BEIG TRIBE *, and Tagalog filling out the top nine most spoken languages in Texas. [19] Large numbers of non-native Texas residents are picking up some dialectal traits of Southern English, [20] while other linguistic traits are being subdued into a national homogenizing trend. [20]

There were also several smaller language groups, including Czechs (several thousands Moravians) and Polish. Texas German is a dialect of the German language that is spoken by descendants of German immigrants who settled in the Texas Hill Country region in the mid-19th century. [21]

Spanish in Texas

The Spanish dialects spoken by some Tejanos are becoming more influenced by Mexican dialects of Spanish due to a large influx of recent immigrants from Mexico. In some locations of South and West Texas these Spanish Creoles and the dialects of English spoken by Anglos and non-bilingual Tejanos are being supplanted as the dominant language by Mexican Spanish.[ citation needed ]

In 1999 Rene Oliveira proposed a bill that would require all state high school students to take at least two years of Spanish; at that time actual state law stated that students could choose which foreign language to take. [22]

In 2003 larger numbers of Hispanics in Texas reported that they spoke only English. [23] In August 2004, the community of El Cenizo, along the U.S.-Mexico border, made Spanish its official language. [24]

As of 2007 the state of Texas offers its yearly academic tests in Spanish as well as English. [25]

Asian languages

As of 2014, Vietnamese is the third most commonly spoken language, [26] Chinese is the fourth most commonly spoken language, and Hindi is the fifth most commonly spoken language in the state. [27] Tagalog is sixth place, and is mostly spoken in small Filipino American communities in Houston. [27]

Related Research Articles

Languages of the United States languages of a geographic region

The most commonly used language in the United States is English, which is the de facto national language. Nonetheless, many other languages are also spoken, or historically have been spoken, in the United States. These include indigenous languages, languages brought to the country by colonists, enslaved people and immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia. There are also several languages, including creoles and sign languages, that developed in the United States. Approximately 430 languages are spoken or signed by the population, of which 176 are indigenous to the area. Fifty-two languages formerly spoken in the country's territory are now extinct.

Texas German is a group of German language dialects spoken by descendants of German immigrants who settled in Texas in the mid-19th century. These "German Texans" founded the towns of Bulverde, New Braunfels, Fredericksburg, Boerne, Walburg, and Comfort in Texas Hill Country, Muenster in North Central Texas, and Schulenburg and Weimar to the east.

Spanish language in the United States

The United States has forty-one million people aged five or older that speak Spanish at home, making Spanish the second most spoken language of the United States by far. Spanish is the most studied foreign language in the United States, with about six million students. With over 50 million native speakers, heritage language speakers and second language speakers, the United States now has the second largest Spanish-speaking population in the world after Mexico, although it is not an official language of the country. About half of all American Spanish speakers also assessed themselves as speaking English "very well" in the 2000 U.S. Census. This percentage increased to 57% in the 2013-2017 American Community Survey. The United States is among the Spanish-speaking countries that has its own Academy of the Spanish Language.

German language in the United States

Over 50 million Americans claim German ancestry, which makes them the largest single claimed ethnic group in the United States. Around 1.06 million people in the United States speak the German language. It is the second most spoken language in North Dakota. In 16 states, it is the most spoken language other than English and Spanish.

Texas State University System state university system

The Texas State University System (TSUS) was created in 1911 to oversee the state's normal schools. Since its creation it has broadened its focus and comprises institutions of many different scopes. The other systems of state universities are the Texas A&M System, the Texas Tech System, the University of Houston System, the University of North Texas System, and the University of Texas System.

Languages of the Philippines languages of a geographic region

There are some 120 to 187 languages and dialects in the Philippines, depending on the method of classification. Almost all are Malayo-Polynesian languages. A number of Spanish-influenced creole varieties generally called Chavacano are also spoken in certain communities. The 1987 constitution designates Filipino as the national language and an official language along with English.

Sul Ross State University

Sul Ross State University (SRSU) is a public university in Alpine, Texas, that offers certificate programs and associate's, bachelor's, and master's degrees. The main campus is the primary institution of higher education serving the nineteen-county Big Bend region of far West Texas. Branch campuses, branded as Rio Grande College, are located in Uvalde, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Castroville.

Geographical distribution of German speakers

This article details the geographical distribution of speakers of the German language, regardless of the legislative status within the countries where it is spoken. In addition to the German-speaking area in Europe, German-speaking minorities are present in many countries and on all six inhabited continents.

Chicano English or Mexican-American English, is a dialect of American English spoken primarily by Mexican Americans, particularly in the Southwestern United States, ranging from Texas to California but also apparent in Chicago. Chicano English is sometimes mistakenly conflated with Spanglish, which is a grammatically simplified mixing of Spanish and English; however, Chicano English is a fully formed and native dialect of English, not a "learner English" or interlanguage. It is even the native dialect of some speakers who know little to no Spanish.

The Convention of 1832 was the first political gathering of colonists in Mexican Texas. Delegates sought reforms from the Mexican government and hoped to quell the widespread belief that settlers in Texas wished to secede from Mexico. The convention was the first in a series of unsuccessful attempts at political negotiation that eventually led to the Texas Revolution.

Neilsen is a less common spelling of the surnames Nielsen or Neilson.

New Mexican Spanish form of the Spanish language used in New Mexico

New Mexican Spanish is a variant of Spanish spoken in the United States, primarily in Northern New Mexico and the southern part of the state of Colorado by the Hispanos of New Mexico. Despite a continual influence from the Spanish spoken in Mexico to the south by contact with Mexican migrants who fled to the US from the Mexican Revolution, New Mexico's unique political history and relative geographical and political isolation from the time of the annexation to the US has caused New Mexican Spanish to differ notably from the Spanish spoken in other parts of Hispanic America, with the exception of certain rural areas of southern Colorado, Northern Mexico, and Texas.

Hans Peter Mareus Neilsen Gammel was an author and bookseller. He served as editor and publisher of a series of books reporting Texas legislation enacted by each congressional and legislative session. His first publication consisted of 10 volumes and covered 75 years of Texas legal history. The Laws of Texas 1822-1897 has long been a primary resource for the study of Texas legal history during the Nineteenth Century.

Languages of Mexico languages of a geographic region

Many different languages are spoken in Mexico. The indigenous languages are from eleven distinct language families, including four isolates and one that immigrated from the United States. The Mexican government recognizes 68 national languages, 63 of which are indigenous, including around 350 dialects of those languages. The large majority of the population is monolingual in Spanish. Some immigrant and indigenous populations are bilingual, while some indigenous people are monolingual in their languages. Mexican Sign Language is spoken by much of the deaf population, and there are one or two indigenous sign languages as well.

Texan English is the array of American English spoken in Texas, primarily falling under the regional dialects of Southern and Midland U.S. English. As one extensive study states, at the most basic level, the typical Texan accent is a "Southern accent with a twist." The "twist" refers to major features of the Lower and Upper South coming into contact with one another, as well as some notable influences derived from an early Spanish-speaking population and German immigrants. In fact, there is no single accent that covers all of Texas and few dialect features are unique to Texas. The most advanced accent features of the regional Southern U.S. dialect are reported in North and West Texas, associated with the Upper South, while elements of the same regional dialect are present but less consistent in East and South Texas, associated more with the Lower South. In South Texas, particularly, Mexican Spanish characteristics are heavily influential as well. Abilene, Austin, Corpus Christi appear to align to the Midland regional accent of the United States more than the Southern regional one; El Paso aligns to the Western regional accent; and Dallas is greatly variable.

Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Texas was the court of last resort for legal matters in the Republic of Texas from the Republic's independence from Mexico in 1836 until its annexation by the United States of America in 1846. The current Supreme Court of Texas was established that year.

English in New Mexico refers to varieties of Western American English and Chicano English native to the U.S. state of New Mexico. Other languages in the region include New Mexican Spanish, Navajo, and numerous other Native American languages.

Peters Colony is a name applied to four empresario land grant contracts first by the Republic of Texas and then the State of Texas for settlement in north Texas. The contracts were signed groups of American and English investors originally headed by William Smalling Peters. Samuel Browning, Peters' son-in-law signed the first contract with the Republic of Texas in Austin on August 30, 1841. Ownership of the empresario company changed many times during the life of the contracts.

References

  1. 2005 American Community Survey, as reported by the MLA Data Center. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  2. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 1". The Portal to Texas History.
  3. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 1". The Portal to Texas History.
  4. State., Texas (Republic). Secretary of (25 November 2018). "Laws of the Republic of Texas, in two volumes. Volume 02". The Portal to Texas History.
  5. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 1". The Portal to Texas History.
  6. 1 2 Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 2". The Portal to Texas History.
  7. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 2". The Portal to Texas History.
  8. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 4". The Portal to Texas History.
  9. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 4". The Portal to Texas History.
  10. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 4". The Portal to Texas History.
  11. Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 1898). "The Laws of Texas, 1822-1897 Volume 10". The Portal to Texas History.
  12. 1 2 Neilsen, Gammel, Hans Peter Mareus (25 November 2018). "The Laws of Texas, 1927 [Volume 25]". The Portal to Texas History.
  13. "Sec. 2054.001." Texas Legislature. Retrieved on June 27, 2010.
  14. Cope, Lida. 2016. Texas Czech Legacy Project: Documenting the past and Present for the Future. International Journal of the Sociology of Language 238:105-126.
  15. Malinkowa, Trudla. 2009. Shores of Hope: Wends of Overseas. Austin: Concordia University Press.
  16. "Do You Speak American . Sea to Shining Sea . American Varieties . Texan - PBS". www.pbs.org.
  17. "South Regional Map". www.ling.upenn.edu.
  18. 1 2 "Introduction to American English, Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere".
  19. 1 2 languageline.com Languages Spoken in Texas (PDF)
  20. 1 2 "American Varieties: Southern".
  21. Boas, Hans C. (2009). The Life and Death of Texas German. Publication of the American Dialect Society. Duke University Press. ISBN   9780822367161.
  22. "Bill would require students in Texas to learn Spanish." The Victoria Advocate . 53rd year, No. 298. March 1, 1999. p.1. Retrieved on September 10, 2012.
  23. Cantú, Hector. "Language shift speaks volumes More Texas Hispanics report English as their only tongue." The Dallas Morning News . September 1, 2003. Retrieved on September 10, 2012.
  24. Neuliep, James W. Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach. SAGE, November 6, 2008. 7. Retrieved from Google Books on September 10, 2012. ISBN   1412967708, 9781412967709.
  25. "Spanish TAKS test is a 'big step'." Houston Chronicle . Wednesday February 21, 2007. Retrieved on September 10, 2012.
  26. Railey, Kimberley. "Cornyn aims to draw Vietnamese-Americans to GOP" (Archive). The Dallas Morning News . July 7, 2014. Retrieved on September 22, 2014.
  27. 1 2 Railey, Kimberley. "Cornyn seeks to lure Chinese Americans to GOP" (Archive). The Dallas Morning News . September 3, 2014. Retrieved on September 22, 2014.