SHI: Are there any descendants of European-origin Americans who don’t speak a word of English? Mostly as a result of living in isolated communities.
I’m thinking along the lines of the Amish, Old Order Mennonites, or Canadian French speakers in places like Maine.
It’s a very interesting subject. If you’re determined, no one can impose their linguistic hegemony on you or your families.
Oh I really doubt it. Everyone who grows up here speaks English. I really doubt if there are any US born monolinguals of any European languages. The monolinguals were mostly immigrants, not people who were born here. I know a Jewish gf of mine had a grandmother who was pretty much a Yiddish monolingual. She died maybe 20 years ago but she may have come here on a boat.
A friend of my Mom’s mother was pretty much a Norwegian monolingual. Worse a lot of them had no language at all anymore as they had forgotten their first language and they never learned English well. I know that Paula’s mother used to say,
“I have forgotten all of my Norvegian, and I never learned good the English!”
But that woman came on a boat too. It’s strange if you think about, people who are not fluent in any language anymore. How odd. What language do they think in? Broken whatever?
However, there are some Quebeckers in Canada who are French native speakers, and they just don’t speak English well at all. Whether you would qualify them as monolinguals or not, I am not sure.
I know there are some in Spain. There are still a few Leonese monolinguals and until recently, maybe 20 years ago, there were Cantabrian monolinguals. One man talked about his grandmother who died twenty years ago, a Cantabrian monolingual. She had stubbornly refused to learn Spanish or Castilian as she called it. She said it was an “imposed language.” So there is an example of a person stubbornly hanging on to their linguistic identity and refusing to have Spanish imposed on her. It’s a cool image, I think.
The Leonese monolinguals are old men in the mountains who learned Spanish in school but then forgot all of it and now speak only Leonese. And there are some Eonavian monolinguals too, old women. There are probably no more Catalan monolinguals, or if there are, it’s some old woman in a rural area. There might be a few Basque monolinguals. I doubt if there are any Extremaduran, Asturian, Aragonese, or Galician monolinguals, but you never know.
But those are languages native to Spain, so a corrolary of here would be monolingual speakers of Indian languages of which I doubt there are any. But there was a monolingual speaker of Chukchansi Yokuts until the early 1960’s. But even most of those folks spoke some English. For instance the Chukchansi speaker did speak a broken English.