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Alaska State Language

English language references - click to see all cultural symbols
English language dictionaries & references; photo by John Keogh on Flickr (non-
commercial use permitted with attribution). See All State Art & Cultural Symbols.

English

The official language of the state of Alaska is English. Alaska passed the official English language initiative in 1998, but it has been blocked by a state judge pending trial (the case is still pending). 14.3% of Alaska's residents speak a language other than English; and 2.4% are linguistically isolated. The most common of these languages are Yupik, Spanish, Tagalog (Philipino), and Inupik.

Alaskan languages chart - click to see all cultural symbols
Percent of Alaska's population over 5 years old speaking a language
other than English at home. Image © ProEnglish.
See All State Art & Cultural Symbols.

The initiative's purpose: "The people of the State of Alaska find that English is the common unifying language of the State of Alaska and the United States of America, and declare a compelling interest in promoting, preserving and strengthening its use... to be used by all public agencies in all government functions and actions ..."

There are of course many exceptions to this - the government may use a language other than English when necessary for the following purposes:

(1) to communicate health and safety information or when an emergency requires the use of a language other than English,

(2) to teach another language to students proficient in English,

(3) to teach English to students of limited English proficiency,

(4) to promote international relations, trade, commerce, tourism or sporting events,

(5) to protect the constitutional and legal rights of criminal defendants,

(6) to serve the needs of the judicial system in civil and criminal cases in compliance with court rules and orders,

(7) to investigate criminal activity and protect the rights of crime victims,

(8) to the extent necessary to comply with federal law, including the Native American Languages Act,

(9) to attend or observe religious ceremonies,

(10) to use non-English terms of art, names, phrases, or expressions included as part of communications otherwise in English, and

(11) to communicate orally with constituents by elected public officials and their staffs, if the public official or staff member is already proficient in a language other than English.

18% of the United States population over the age of 5 speaks a language other than English at home (including Spanish, German, Native American, French, Scandinavian, Tagalog, Italian, Chinese, Polish, Korean, and Russian). Official language laws have been passed in several states, but the United States does not recognize an official national language.

Source:
American Ethnic Geography: Valparaiso University
English as our Official Language: ProEnglish
Links:
All State Art & Cultural Symbols

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Alaska Symbols & Icons:

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insect - fish
mammal - dog
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