Official Language

Got another email from the American Family Association. This time their crusade is to make English the “Official Language” of the US. I had a discussion with a friend the other weekend about this.

Let’s quote the AFA email:

A Zogby poll last year showed that 84% say English should be the official language of government operations. The poll also showed that 77% of Hispanics support English as our official language.

It is time for liberal members of Congress to quit playing politics with the future of all children –U.S. and Immigrant–and follow the lead of 28 states which have made English their official language. Failure for Congress to act will establish a major obstacle for immigrant children as they try to move up in our society.

Without a common language, citizens cannot communicate with each other. Any child growing up in America without knowing English is at a distinct disadvantage. At a time when our society is becoming more fragmented, we need an official, common language. Diverse cultures, different backgrounds and varied traditions enrich our culture. But for the nation to thrive, we must have a common language.

1) The Zogby poll didn’t find out how many of the 84% knew what making English our official language meant.

2) I agree that American children need to be taught English.

3) However, making English the official language of all government documents — which is what they want — affects adults as well as children. The US welcomes into our borders legal refugees every year. Adults. Refugees don’t have time to spend a few years learning our language before they arrive. By definition they are escaping something. Do we really want to force them to learn our language before they can sign any government document?

How quickly could you learn a new language?

4) We can require that New American children be taught English as a Second Language; we can provide every encouragement to the adults to learn our language. But until that point, not to provide documents in their native language they can understand is cruel.

Those who want this, in my mind, really would like the US to close our borders to refugees entirely, but don’t really want to say that. Because they know it goes against what America has stood for for centuries. (Give us your hungry, your poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free.) Or they’re not thinking through what it means to accept refugees into our nation.

0 thoughts on “Official Language

  1. DL Emerick

    Next thing you know, they’ll insist that the way they speak English is the official definition of English — ourt start a war on the pretenders to the same crown — such as Canadians, Australians or the English themselves.

    The fact is, language is permeable and slowly becomes something else. Try reading old texts in “English”. Almost no one can do this feat, today. We have to translate it.

    The language of future “Americans”, whatever the future may be, will reflect the strong influence of Spanish. This is as inevitably certain. And, the people of the future will not be able to read the “old texts” today, without some translation aids.

    That’s just the way language is. (And, if you don’t believe me, compare Italian today with “ancient” Latin.)

    But, legislators are fools — and their uttering foolishness is never more apparent than when they go to declare something as big as language “official” — in some respect (sic!).

    It’s all part of the vanity of parochialism. But, heck, if I took a tour of west Texas, I’d probably not find a single person that I could understand, credibly, as speaking the English language as I know it to be. Heck, they can’t even pass literacy tests in English — and yet they want to declare it the official language? Well, it seems to me that they should have to demonstrate competency in the use of the language before being allowed to aver that they speak it!


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