The overall languages spoken in the United States.
The overall languages spoken in the United States.  

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Languages’ Impact on Democracy
Published Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

During a recent trip to the State Department, President Obama was greeted by a staffer in Bahasa Indonesian, the President responded back with phrase in the same language. The President has, as far back as 2007, pointed to the years he spent in Indonesia as helping to prepare him for the presidency. He stated at a forum for the National Jewish Democratic Council in Washington, D.C., that knowledge of another’s language is recognition of their common humanity.

Many presidents spoke a second language; recently the favorite has been Spanish, the US second largest language population.   Federal legislation since 1975 recognizes that many Americans rely heavily on their native languages other than English and provides requirements for information in minority languages. Localities with over 5% of the total voting age citizens who are of a single minority language group, have depressed literacy rates, and do not speak English very well are provided voting materials in that minority’s language. That legislation targets: Spanish, Asian, Native American, and Alaskan Native languages. In the US, there are many other languages spoken besides the targeted languages and all have the same rights under the Voting Rights Act of 1975.

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