Was Greek really once proposed as the official language of the USA?
A story that keeps emerging in conversations among Greeks relating to the US of A is that of whether it is actually true that the Greek language was proposed as one of the candidate languages for the emerging great nation. Part of the story is that the proposal was put to the vote and it lost by just one to English.
It appears that there is some truth to that story although the voting part of it seems to be pure myth.
Best ref I could find for this is: "The American Language", H.L. Mencken 1921
Here is the relevant part: http://www.bartelby.net/185/7.html
I just quote the first paragraph from that chapter:
William Gifford, the first editor of the Quarterly Review, is authority for the tale that a plan was set on foot during the Revolution for the abandonment of English as the national language of America, and the substitution of Hebrew in its place. An American chronicler, Charles Astor Bristed, makes the proposed tongue Greek, and reports that the change was rejected on the ground that "it would be more convenient for us to keep the language as it is, and make the English speak Greek." 1 The story, though it has the support of the editors of the Cambridge History of American Literature, 2 has an apocryphal smack; one suspects that the savagely anti-American Gifford invented it. But, true or false, it well indicates the temper of those times. The passion for complete political independence of England bred a general hostility to all English authority, whatever its character, and that hostility, in the direction of present concern to us, culminated in the revolutionary attitude of Noah Webster's "Dissertations on the English Language," printed in 1789. Webster harbored no fantastic notion of abandoning English altogether, but he was eager to set up American as a distinct and independent dialect. "Let us," he said, "seize the present moment, and establish a national language as well as a national government. … As an independent nation our honor requires us to have a system of our own, in language as well as government."