Legal Status of official English in Massachusetts

A ballot initiative to restrict bilingual education succeeded in 2002. Although in 1975, this state made English its official language (see below), it had until 2002 required immigrant children to be educated in foreign languages.

Official Language Law of Massachusetts (1975)

Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Article XX.
No person shall [have the right to vote, or] be eligible to office under the constitution of this commonwealth, who shall not be able to read the constitution in the English language, and write his name: — provided, however, that the provisions of this amendment shall not apply to any person prevented by a physical disability from complying with its requisitions, nor to any person who now has the right to vote, nor to any persons who shall be sixty years of age or upwards at the time this amendment shall take effect.



4,838,679 English
1,115,570 All languages other than English combined
370,011 Spanish or Spanish Creole
159,809 Portuguese or Portuguese Creole
84,484 French (incl. Patois, Cajun)
71,412 Chinese
59,811 Italian
43,519 French Creole
32,580 Russian
30,400 Vietnamese
28,819 Greek
27,631 Polish
21,549 Mon-Khmer, Cambodian
20,029 German
18,742 Arabic
14,030 African languages
12,135 Korean
9,985 Japanese
9,172 Hindi
8,091 Armenian
6,532 Hebrew
5,698 Tagalog
4,945 Gujarathi
4,673 Scandinavian languages
4,598 Persian
4,228 Urdu
3,609 Serbo-Croatian
3,463 Laotian
2,381 Yiddish
2,231 Thai
1,619 Hungarian
1,121 Miao, Hmong
898 Other Native North American languages
34 Navajo