Annual Review of Applied Linguistics

Country and Regional Surveys

Language Policy and Planning in the United States

Richard Ruiz

While the United States has never declared a national official language, the primacy of English in public affairs has been well-established since the time of the earliest colonies (Crawford 1992a, Ruiz 1988). This is so in spite of the reluctance on the part of the British colonial authorities and, later, leaders of the early republic, to legislate matters of language—considered traditionally one of the most fundamental freedoms of civilized societies (Heath 1992). English even at that time was considered a language of political, economic, and social power and prestige; its preeminence in the United States, as elsewhere, has been reinforced in recent times by its establishment as a language of technology.