New York

Legal Status of official English in New York

New York does not have official English, and it does not allow referenda or voter initiatives.
In 2002, Mayor Michael Bloomberg was elected after promising to scrap the city’s bilingual education programs, but he has since decided to greatly increase support for bilingual education.


28 percent of this state’s residents speak a language other than English in their homes.

The most common of these languages are Spanish, Italian, Chinese, and French.

This state has the nation’s highest proportion of speakers of Italian, Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, Serbo-Croat, Romanian, Bengali, and Malayam.

Nearly one million New Yorkers speak little or no English.

There are over half a million households where noone over 14 years old speaks English.

Most non-English speaking New Yorkers live in New York City, where bilingual education is the favored technique for educating English Language Learners.

12,786,189 English
4,962,921 All languages other than English combined
2,416,126 Spanish or Spanish Creole
374,627 Chinese
294,271 Italian
218,765 Russian
180,809 French (incl. Patois, Cajun)
114,747 French Creole
113,514 Yiddish
111,730 Polish
102,105 Korean
92,709 German
86,659 Greek
69,959 Arabic
67,675 Hebrew
65,506 Tagalog
54,271 African languages
52,448 Urdu
41,378 Portuguese or Portuguese Creole
41,151 Hindi
34,569 Japanese
31,553 Serbo-Croatian
25,975 Persian
20,249 Vietnamese
18,421 Hungarian
16,908 Gujarathi
11,974 Scandinavian languages
8,575 Armenian
7,198 Thai
3,907 Other Native North American languages
3,353 Laotian
3,209 Mon-Khmer, Cambodian
179 Miao, Hmong
95 Navajo