Two City Council Members Back Bill Requiring English Store Signs

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York may be a melting pot, but two city council members reportedly want to make sure that English is front and center.

Peter Koo and Dan Halloran are sponsoring a measure that would require store names and addresses be written in English.

They say they’re concerned about the proliferation of shops and stores that have store names written in other languages. They say that creates a safety hazard, making it more difficult for first responders to identify the business in event of emergency.

1010 WINS’ Stan Brooks reports: Councilman Says Signs In English Is More Than A Matter Of Public Safety

Additionally, it would make it easier for customers to file complaints against the merchants with the city.

WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond: It’s A Decades-Old Culture Clash

The New York Post reports the law would give merchants who already have non-English signs and awnings four years to change them.

As for new signs, 60 percent of the words on them would have to be in English.

What do you think of the proposal? Common sense or un-American? Sound off in our comments section.

More from Marla Diamond

One Comment

  1. J says:

    I left many comments this morning around 9:30am , what happened to them. J

  2. Lisio says:

    This is a common sense initiative and should pass the City Council without any delay. “America” is an English speaking Country. If we don’t have a federal law mandating the use of English it’s only because immigration into this Country was never meant for people who would be hostile to our European culture.It should have remained that way.

  3. Lisio says:

    This is a common sense initiative and should pass the City Council without any delay. “America” is an English speaking Country. If we don’t have a federal law mandating the use of English it’s only because immigration into this this Country was never meant for people who would be hostile to our European culture.It should have remained that way.

  4. Bernie Schwartz says:

    Look at all the above comments from “English-speaking” persons. How many of them have no spelling errors? How many of them have no grammatical errors? How many of them are barely intelligible? (I didn’t say “intelligent”, but that’s another story.) Everyone should learn to improve their grammar and spelling. That’s one sign of an intelligent person, and one who deserves to be heard.

  5. Business Owner and Taxpayer says:

    America was built by immigrants. Let Freedom of Speech prevail.

    1. littlrstar says:

      Yes, united immigrants.

  6. littlestar says:

    Yes this bill is logical.

  7. Freedom of Speech says:

    Freedom of speech … just another excuse to take it away. Government intervening where they do not need to. Let the private citizen and market decide!

    1. dave says:


  8. BF says:

    You have to teach the sign makers to learn proper English as well. The way they mix up works and spell things is so amazing and very funny at times. Like the Limosing company on 60th Street and 8th Ave which was once named a transpotation company.

  9. Wolf says:

    ENGLISH has been the spoken and written language since day one of this country. It should remain the number one language. If anyone desires to own a business or work in this country they should be able to read, write and speak English. Period.

    1. Queen of England says:

      I will have to charge the US for using English
      Queen of England

  10. Diversity in NYC says:

    They should hire Bi-lingual first responders or have multi-language translators available. Problem solved.

    1. Suzanne says:

      My Grandparents came from Italy and opened a store on 59th Street in Manhatten. The law then was that ONLY ENGLISH was allowed on the sign. It was New Bridge Market for over 50 years. They were proud to be in America.

    2. Mike says:

      Wrong. Have their signs in both languages. This isn’t a section of shanghai.

    3. llittlesar says:

      Yeah. All first responders will speak Chinese, Korean, Spanish, and English. You’re another idiot.

    4. Illinois Minuteman says:

      Then you pay for it!

  11. Yea I said it says:

    You do not have to eliminate your language but english should defintely be somewhere on those signs. What, do you think “your” people are the only ones that travel and “your” part of town? c’mon people get real.

  12. Yea I said it says:

    PLEASE! all these people crying about “America has no official language” needs to cut the bull. America is a PREDOMINATELY ENGLISH speaking country. Lets be real for one second. Excuse me, but this country should NOT have to cater to each individual nationality when the majority of the people here speak english. Lets see you go over to China, Japan, Russia, Mexico etc. and tell them to learn english. HA! they will look at you and say “no you learn our language” So all of you foreigners that are making these comments about what is and what isnt the native language of the country, can please stop talking. The damn signs need to be in in ENGLISH. period.

    1. Michael H. says:

      I’m a 3rd generation “native” of this country (my parents and grandparents were all born here, as was I). I am one of the people saying “we have no official language” and I’m saying that because it is TRUE. The United States of America has declared no one language to be the “official” language. Stop behaving like a child, telling people to “stop talking” because you can’t form a coherent argument without personal attacks.

      “but this country should NOT have to cater to each individual nationality”
      The topic at hand is private business owners and the signs they have put up, not what the country itself is doing to cater to foreign language speakers.

      “Lets see you go over to China, Japan, Russia, Mexico etc. and tell them to learn english. HA! they will look at you and say “no you learn our language””
      The funniest part is, they already learn English (with the probable exception of Mexico). Most of the world has their children learning English as a second language from a young age, and a lot of them speak English better than many Americans!

      I’ll reiterate: I have no problem with legislation requiring bilingual store signs. While we have no official language in this country, we are a predominantly English speaking nation (you’re right about that). I DO have a problem with flag waving rabble rousers like you frothing at the mouth about an issue that really does not affect you one bit. Spare us all the faux outrage and find something more productive to do with your time.

      1. Yea I said it says:

        “The funniest part is, they already learn English (with the probable exception of Mexico). Most of the world has their children learning English as a second language from a young age, and a lot of them speak English better than many Americans!”

        Oh really? so why are the signs not in english in the first place?
        The truth of the matter is, many of them DON’T know english. This why they create communities such as china town etc. because many of the people speak very little to no english at all. so they have to create communtites of their own in order to survive. I get that. But put signs in both english and whatever other language you speak. its that simple.

  13. GotWords? says:

    English First, you are mistaken. English is NOT the official language of the US. It just happens to be the one the lawmakers speak. We don’t have an official language, and its not likely we are going to get one any time soon. Immigrants SHOULD learn English, for their own good, but there isn’t any mandate. And, correct me if I’m wrong, but citizenship (not immigration) does require some rudimentay knowlege of English.

  14. Amateur Radio Operator says:

    I think the store names should be in international Morse Code.

  15. Bobby Gentry says:

    This comment should say it all as it is not politically motivated. I was in Flushing looking for a good ethnic restaurant. I saw one that obviously catered to Koreans ONLY as I could not read “hangul.” Having NO English on the window, I had no idea what they served (dogmeat?). Get real. We speak English here. I always encounter the clerks in store who can’t speak English and I can’t communicate with them to ask them about the product, therefore losing my business. And I’m talking about a supermarket where I live.

    1. Michael H. says:

      “We speak English here”

      Apparently not everybody speaks English here if this is something that is being addressed by our city government.

      FYI, America has no official language.

  16. RealAmerica says:

    What about businesses that come up with unusual names, that have never before appeared in ANY language? Will they be forced to display an English description? Or is the assumption made that if it isn’t any other language, then it must be English? I can just see the City lawyers spending our tax money arguing before the U.S. Supreme Court. Oh, and will words such as taco, pizza, pasta, chow mein, and the like be considered English? It kinda figures that Dan Halloran would be behind this proposed law. Whatever happened to that investigation of the Sanitation snow removal slowdown, done at his behest?

  17. Sharon says:

    We did until the English came. Each Native Nation had it’s own language.

  18. Michael says:

    Keep in mind folks . . . you can keep any foreign language you want on your sign. This law does not force you to remove your language. They are just requiring an English equivalent name to be on the sign as well. It can be a smaller font and size. Just make them Bi-Lingual. It’s similar to your instruction manuals, for electronics that come in 10 different languages. It may even be better for businesses as MORE people may use them if they can read the signs instead of guessing what the business is.

  19. amanda says:

    Thanks guys ! And michael H is right! Yall ever think bout the fact unless you are a native american you are a immigrant! Guess I have an open mind where most don’t!

    1. MixingBowlFan says:

      We should take a page from Europe’s book and use international signage (symbols). Visitors who don’t speak or read English (or Korean or Chinese or anything other than THEIR native language) have a hard time navigating here as well.

    2. Dale Auburn says:

      Even “Native Americans” came from somewhere.

      Go back a few thousand years and you’ll find that Alaska and Russia were once connected by an ice bridge. People walked over that bridge and then scattered throughout the western Hemisphere.

  20. stephi says:

    It’s about time. It’s not only the chinese. It’s the Russians, Hispanic, Arabs, Jews and all the others. If its a law that they have to have it in a foreign language, then its should be a law that they have to have it in English. I don’t care what language you speak, they should also be able to speak and understand the language of this counrty. The reason they don’t want to learn English is beacuse they get everything in their language. If they don’t want to learn the language of this country then they are the racist not me. MY grandparents came to this counrty and they learned English.They are not stupid,they just don’t want to learn. But the liberals and the politicans will want to fight this. Nobody is saying not to speak their native language, but you have to learn to speak,read and write the language of the counrty you came to live in.

    1. Michael H. says:

      “the liberals and the politicians will want to fight this”

      So the conservative politicians will be against this too? I don’t get it. Who, exactly, do you vote for every November?

      As a liberally minded person, I have no problem with legislation to force store owners to have English on their signs. Just putting that out there.

      Also, isn’t legislation like this more or less “liberal” since it is forcing new regulations on business owners? As somebody who is against “liberals”, shouldn’t you also be against this legislation, since big bad government will be telling small business owners what to do? Or is it ok because this law is only going to affect the Asians, Arabs, Jews, Russians, etc etc etc and the good, red blooded Americans wont be affected?

      1. littlestar says:

        You are a fair man Mike !

  21. Jim says:

    Sometimes I wish we can go back a few decades where city council members/ policy makers had more significant problems to tackle. It seems like in the past year or so people are just trying to eradicate all aspects of what makes New York- New York. Lets get rid of vendors in Chinatown. Let’s get rid of Central Park musicians…lets require all sign’s to partially be in English. Its New York. We are a melting pot- it separates us from boring America.

    1. littlestar says:

      Honestly Jimmy, If you are walking down the street and you could not read the store front sighn how can you shop ? Also don’t you think that it is fundamently arrogant not to advertise in the common language ?

  22. Harold Perez says:

    Hey , do first responders are given the address of the location for the request for help or the name of store? Giving the store name is no help for first responders. And if they are given the store name first responders will find themselves in the wrong city!

    Maybe council member, Peter Koo and Dan Halloran, should take a courses in the history of New York City and its people.

  23. Kathleen says:

    It’s common sense. The law we have on that should have been enforced years ago.

  24. Dale Auburn says:

    That used to be the law, but it LAPSED due to the city’s aggressive non-enforcement. It has to be put back on the books so it can be enforced.

    BTW, Koo owns five pharmacies in Flushing, so he would be subject to his own law!

  25. chula says:

    Its looks like a racial thing – only their kind would know what the store is – both lanuages is just fine – all americans should know what the stores are about and able to purchase – being jewish – chinese – korean etc

  26. amanda says:

    Un american what about people who don’t read english! They have addresses for first responders they shouldn’t have to depend on store names to find where they need to go!

    1. Michael H. says:

      Amanda, read the article. They’ll be permitted to have their native language on the signs. The signs will have to have both English and whatever other language. This is how it is in Montreal, where everything is in both French and English.

    2. angry says:

      amanda, ur an idiot…

    3. English First says:

      Amanda, in case you don’t know this, English is the official language of the United States of America, so what exactly is Un-American about this. If every neighborhood had shops with signs only in their native languages, it would make life impossible for everybody. Do you read Lithuanian, Polish, Korean, Hindi, etc? This society simply cannot, and shouldn’t have to, cater to every nationality. Immigrants should be required to enter into an English language course before they are granted a visa, much less citizenship. Of course I am not saying people aren’t entitled to speak in their native tongue, or have their native language alongside English on their store signs. It is just that English just happens to be the language of this country, and it seems to be falling into disuse.

      1. Michael H. says:

        “English First”

        America has no “official language”.

      2. TrumpC says:

        How about eliminating all the spanish instructions that comes in everything? If you sell it in the US, PLEASE HAVE THE INSTRUCTION IN ENGLISH ONLY. If you don’t understand there are English-Spanish dictionary.

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