How easy would it be for some of us over here in Europe if the United States’ official language would be German. No movie-overdubs. No communication barriers.
There’s even a legend that states we were very close to it. But it’s only a legend. The Muhlenberg-Legend – named after Frederick Muhlenberg, a german-american and the first ever Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.
The legend says he kept German from becoming an official language of the United States by not voting as the decision was made. It’s not true.
True is: There was a vote in the United States House of Representatives back in 1794. Started after a group of German immigrants asked for the translation of some laws into German. This petition was rejected by a 42 to 41 vote.
Muhlenberg was later quoted saying:
The faster the Germans become Americans, the better it will be.
GCB Germany/America (@GermanyMeetings) February 24, 2014
And while the United States, to this day, do not have an official language – English is just the country’s predominant language – there are of course a few Germans words used in America. No surprise, by the way, since over 50 million Americans claim German ancestry – it makes them the largest single ethnic group in the country. [source]
Here’s an overview of German words used in America. From “Autobahn” to “Sauerkraut”.
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