official U.S. language

Alice Faber faber at LENNY.HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Wed Jun 9 04:09:48 UTC 1999

> Date:    Tue, 8 Jun 1999 19:44:50 -0700
> From:    Bob Hamilton <hambo at PRIMENET.COM>
> Subject: offical U.S. language
> I am trying to find an answer to settle a argument between two friends.
> One contends that the American congress, after the revolutionary War voted
> to see if the offical national language would be English or French
> ...and English won by one vote
> In my study of American History I have never seen or heard of this vote.
> Hopefully someone can steer me to the answer.
> Thanks,
> Bob Hamilton

I've only ever heard this story about German. The topic comes up on
alt.folklore.urban with some regularity, and it's not quite right. There was
some vote about whether government documents could be promulgated in German,
but the motion didn't pass. One of the afu regulars tracked it down, with
references to an article cited in David Crystal's Encyclopedia of Language, p.
365. Here's the URL for her archived post:

Alice Faber
faber at

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