Languages of Texas


Languages of Texas

Of the languages spoken in Texas none has been "de jure" designated the official language, although it is largely monolingual with English being the "de facto" main language. Throughout Texas history English, Spanish, and French have all been the primary dominant language used by government officials.

Official language status

Texas does not have an official language; 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, ethnic Mexicans and other Hispanics (Salvadorans, Puerto Ricans, Guatemalans, Colombians, etc.).

History

As Spaniards settled Texas, they brought their native language, supplanting earlier Native American languages such as the Caddo language from which Texas derives its name. Early immigrants that arrived directly from Europe such as Germans, Poles, and Czechs even established their own separate towns where their native tongues became the dominant language. A variant of the German language is even indigenous to Texas. Today the most dominant language in Texas is English like most areas of the United States, though Spanish is still widely spoken, and in Texas English/Spanish bilingual signs are just as common as English/French signs in Louisiana or Canada.Fact|date=April 2007

Texas English

Contrary to popular belief, there is no exclusive Texas dialect of American English. However, some linguists contest that there is a unique subset of Southern English spoken in Texas. [ [http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/texan/ PBS American Varieties: Texan] ] According to the Phonological Atlas of the University of Pennsylvania virtually all native Texans speak [ [http://www.ling.upenn.edu/phono_atlas/maps/MapsS/Map1S.html Phonological Atlas of the University of Pennsylvania] ]
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. [http://www.uta.fi/FAST/US1/REF/images/diausa.gifIntroduction to American English, Department of Translation Studies, University of Tampere] ] 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.

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 [http://www.languageline.com/pdf/LL_December2004.pdf#search='languages%20spoken%20in%20Texas' languageline.com Languages Spoken in Texas] (PDF)] have replaced German and French to become the third and fourth most spoken languages in Texas; with Hindi, Korean, and Tagalog filling out the top ten most spoken languages in Texas. Large numbers of non-native Texas residents are picking up some dialectical traits of Southern English, [http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/americanvarieties/southern/sounds/PBS American Varieties: Southern] ] while other linguistic traits are being subdued into a national homogenizing trend.

The Spanish creoles 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. 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.

References


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