Should English Be Our National Language?

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posted on May, 20 2006 @ 01:07 PM
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To function in any country, much less a meltingpot like America, you must be able to at least grasp the dominant language of that country. Like it or not, English is the dominant language of the United States. Learning the language in no way denigrates that persons culture or heritage, infact it may help protect it, because that person can explain to others what his culture means to him, what his heritage means to him, hense protecting it.

Learning English should be required for citizenship. Howelse does that new citizen expect to advance himself in society? By signlanguage? Sorry, he must have functional command of the language to do so. Strong language skills are a must in a technologically advanced society, or any society for that matter.

Living and working in a country learn the language. It's a survival skill.

I still haven't quite figured out how learning English will kill off multiculturalism.




posted on May, 20 2006 @ 03:13 PM
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Just to drop in my two cents


In this country it is absolutely essential that our language be english and heres my main reason as to why:

There are over 270 countries in the world and many have their own language. English is the one language here in america that binds ALL the different cultures together. Saying we need to accept spanish(or any other language) In america as an accepted form of communication is ludacris. How many Asians have immigrated here? you dont see the Asian groups calling for Chinese or japanese to be accepted as languages here in america...
All this boils down to, is the spanish speaking people who dont want to learn english are just being LAZY. pure and simple. If I move to a spanish speaking country, I'll learn spanish.. If i move to Italy, I'll learn Italian... etc....



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 03:27 PM
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My wife is from the Philippines, she speaks wonderful English considering that it's her third language (Tagalog, Ilonggo, English), but some of her family has trouble with English, and sometimes she gets really frustrated with it. So for when I'm visiting her there, and we're with her family, I'm learning Tagalog. I'm in their country then so it's up to me to make things easier for them, not for them to make things easier for me.



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 03:43 PM
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Before I articulate my reasons why there shouldn't be an English Only Law, I am going to put this up from a site that investigates "Language Policy in the United States". Read it and make up your own mind:


The English Only Movement

Among special-interest lobbies, the English Only movement stands out. It's easy to understand the origins of the Tobacco Institute or the Peanut Advisory Council or the Valve Manufacturers Association. But how does a language acquire a multimillion-dollar advocacy group? Cui bono? Who seeks to benefit by pushing the idea of English as the official language? Certainly not the National Council of Teachers of English or the Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages or the Linguistic Society of America – these organizations strongly oppose English Only measures.

U.S. English and English First, two national groups spearheading this legislation, started small in the mid-1980s. Drawing support mainly from direct-mail contributions, they have grown steadily in budgets, staffs, and influence. H.R. 123, the leading "Language of Government" bill in the 104th Congress, boasted nearly 200 cosponsors. Public support has exceeded 85 percent in some opinion polls. English Only is no longer a fringe movement.

Who are these people and what do they want?

1. Citizens who want to preserve our common language and avoid ethnic strife
2. Bigots seeking to roll back civil rights advances for language-minority groups
3. Conservatives hoping to impose a sense of national unity and civic responsibility
4. Liberals who fear that bilingual education and bilingual voting discourage assimilation
5. Nativists trying to fan animosity toward immigrants and build support for tighter quotas
6. Euro-ethnics who resent "unfair advantages" enjoyed by Hispanics and Asians today
7. Politicians attempting to exploit a national mood of isolationism and xenophobia
8. Racists who equate multiculturalism and ethnic separatism
9. Americans who feel threatened by diversity, among other unsetting changes
10. All of the above.

A good case could be made for "all of the above." You be the judge.


Here is another take about "English Only" proponents:


Debunking English-only Ideology

The English-only ideology is actually in contradiction with what it truly means to be an American. Proponents of language restrictions as public policy demonstrate a lack of faith in the power of American democratic ideals of social justice and equality to unite us in a common purpose, despite our differences. Individual freedoms and the guarantee of rights under our Constitution transcend our cultural and linguistic origins and practices.


I thought this would add to the debate. What do you guys think about this?



[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]

Mod Note: Big Quote – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 20-5-2006 by DontTreadOnMe]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 04:15 PM
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i think far too many people are concerned with what they consider 'rights' to make things easier on the populace as a whole.

it'd have been nice if Esperanza had succeeded.



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 04:15 PM
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Holly Hudson wrote an academic paper on "English Only Laws". She asserts her reasons why such a law would be problematic:


The English Language Amendment

In many states, the English Language Amendment has been added to the state constitution. The reasoning from state to state differs; therefore, the results also vary. In Arizona, the law was adopted as a symbol, much like the state bird. Bilingual education is still present in the classroom and other languages are permitted. However, in California, it was adopted as a supreme law. Signs in other languages have been removed, and bilingual education is a thing of the past. Workers are not permitted to speak their own language in the work place, and many have been dismissed for doing so. "One consequence is the increase reprimands or firings of Spanish speakers by employers who don't allow them to speak anything but English on the job" (Daniels 54). Reports continue to surface about the workers who are being fired for using a language other than English on the job (Baron 3). The laws are strict about the use of English, and have caused an increased hostility among language minorities. As a result, there is more discrimination in the work place and in schools. The amendment has resulted in the minorities' loss of freedom of speech.

The question still remains, why should English be made the official language? If it is merely symbolic and will not have any impact on the rights of Americans, then it is frivolous. If it restricts the rights of a portion of Americans, then it is dangerous. The passage of the English Language Amendment would lead to the loss of the rights of language minorities. "The number of rights language minorities enjoy will decrease and, as a consequence, their quality of life will suffer" (Daniels 56). Not only will the language minority suffer, but so will the rest of the general population. "Amending the Constitution would change our society's fundamental conception of what is fair in education, the workplace, the courts, and the voting booths" (Daniels 57). It will lead to the end of the rights now enjoyed by Americans. Simply put, "[d]enying rights to speakers of other languages allows for a slow but inevitable encroachment upon the right of us all" (Daniels 58).


This is another piece for people to read in order to gain more insight about what might happen with an "English Only" Law.

Mod Note: Big Quote – Please Review This Link.

[edit on 20-5-2006 by DontTreadOnMe]

edit: edited quotes and trimmed them down

[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 04:19 PM
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Who would it make it easier on? You? A segment of the population who doesn't and is unwilling to learn another language?

Is this law used to justify one's inadequacies of not being proficient enough to learn another language other than English? Or is it America's laziness or resistance to truly embrace other languages for cultural or intellectual growth?

I have no problem with other languages because I would strive to learn them and speak them with other people in a specific neighborhood. The funny thing is you get better service--if you speak the language of the people behind the cash register. Case in point. There is a favorite Mexican restaurant my family likes to go to whenever we're together. We order in Spanish. We speak with the waiters and waitresses in Spanish. And we get welcomed by the owner of the Restaurant. We get the best tables whenever they are busy. They speak English with us too, sometimes. And my father, who is notorious for butchering the Spanish language, still makes an effort to speak in Spanish. He gets corrected by my sister or me. But, he still tries. My family makes the effort to extend courtesies with other races or ethnicities whereever we are. How many other people are willing to do that in their daily lives?

I think this law solely is the result of the lack of emphasis on education in America. Americans--in isolated and culturally resistant regions--feel threatened by any other diversity. Their reaction--while being enveloped within their gated communities--is to fight for changing the outside instead of making the change within themselves. It is a cultural war in which the elites think they might win in the short term. But in the long term it will harm those Americans in the long run.






[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 04:53 PM
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Oh I'm sorry. I didn't realize that it was the responsibility of me, who speaks the main language used in this country, to learn every other language spoken by an immigrant so that they can move here and NOT have to learn English, even though it's used everywhere here. Thanks for pointing out how lazy and ignorant I am.



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 04:56 PM
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Where to start?


original qoute:ceci2006



Who would it make it easier on? You? A segment of the population who doesn't and is unwilling to learn another language?


This question can easily be flipped right back at those who dont want to learn english in America. It would be alot easier for the spanish speaking immigrants if they didnt have to learn english. Why are they(foreigners in America) so unwilling to learn english which is the unofficial "official" language?
What would happen if we DID change the language in america to be either JUST spanish; or both spanish AND english... where would it end? .. What would happen if in another 100 years the Asian pop became the largest minority and demanded that chinese(pick your dialect) was now going to be "incorporated".
The reason why english is the language of america is because ENGLISH settlers Founded this nation. American english or bastardized english is a form that does not have the restraints that most other languages have..aka masculine and feminine. Thusly this language tends to take words from other languages and makes it part of its own.
And lastly like i said before and ill say it again until it can be sufficiently explained to the contrary is this: American English is the language that binds not just spanish and americans together but also for the OTHER 270 + countries that have immigrants here aswell...


[edit on 20-5-2006 by TONE23]

[edit on 20-5-2006 by TONE23]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 04:57 PM
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Doo itashima#e, or De Nada.

(Note: for the Nihongo language, my keyboard is not converted for me to type in Kanji. So I spelled it correctly, but unfortunately, the post was unwilling to transfer the last letters.)






[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 05:09 PM
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I think if we had to truly learn the “native language” of America, we would have to go back and learn the indigenous languages of the Native Americans. European Settlers conquered this land by force; they forced the indigenous populations to learn their culture through warfare, biological terrorism and forced assimilation. Not to mention genocide (ever heard of the tale of the Dutch settlers who used to make a sport of rolling Indian heads down the street of Manhattan?).

So, we’d have to learn the languages of the Native American nations in order to be “truly” American.

But, to entertain you and your colonialist views, we’ll have to learn all these languages as follows: Dutch, English, German, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Gaelic (Ireland-Scotch dialect). Would that make you happy?





[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 05:56 PM
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This comes from a text outlining how language became a part of American History. Read it for your own information:


HISTORY OF LANGUAGE LEGISLATION

In the first American colonies more than twenty languages were spoken in daily life, including Dutch, French, German, and numerous Native American languages. Even the Articles of Confederation were printed in English and German.

Languages other than English have always been a part of an American history and culture; however, the debate over establishing a national language also dates back to the country’s beginnings. In 1780, John Adams proposed to the Continental Congress that an official academy should be created to “purify, develop, and dictate usage of English.” His proposal was rejected as undemocratic and as a threat to individual liberty.

The dominance of English was established only at the time of the first U.S. Census in 1790. Estimates of the population’s ethnic origins indicated language diversity even at that time, when roughly half of the population was of English origin; nearly 19 percent was of African origin; 12 percent was Scottish or Scottish-Irish and Irish accounted for about 3 percent of the total. People of Dutch, French, and Spanish origin represented an aggregate 14 percent. The first U.S. Census largely ignored Native Americans. So Americans were tolerant of linguistic diversity up until the late 1800s, when an influx of Eastern and Southern Europeans, as well as Asians prompted the enactment of restrictive language laws.



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 06:15 PM
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I can see your point ceci2006.

Maybe I should clarify my stance alittle aswell..
I have no problem with other languages being spoken in america...BUT.. english should be the BASE language in communiaction in this nation.. for my above posted reasons.
Now if two people are are communicating and they both know another language and wish to do communicate, then I have absolutely no problem with it




in California, it was adopted as a supreme law. Signs in other languages have been removed, and bilingual education is a thing of the past. Workers are not permitted to speak their own language in the work place, and many have been dismissed for doing so




This is a prime example of the extreme other end of the problem. The answer is not sweeping legislation that "forbids" the use of other languages... Like i said english should be the BASE language of communication in this nation...not the ONLY language.



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 07:49 PM
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Well, if people actually talked this out like we're doing here instead of adopting the media's portrayal of the "extreme" sides of the issue, there would be a different attitude toward this problem of language assimilation.

However, if people knew more about American history and how language inserted itself into the character of the nation, then, they would see why we don't have an official language. This has been worked into the Constitution.

English is already the base language for communication in this country. Why does it have to be manditory?

Furthermore, most businesses in America are already conducted in English. But for those businesses operating in ethnic neighborhoods, how are the authorities going to enforce this? Breaking down doors? Firing squad for sedition? Lynch mobs?

And what about international business? Conference calls? How do you think most international corporations make their deals? By speaking the language of the guest client and treating the other party in culturally comfortable surroundings. Now Congress--with their corporate ties--would not want to mess with these intricate negotiations, would they?

But add a few nabobs with their paranoiac concerns about "illegal immigration" in both the House and the Senate and there you go. Instant English Only Law.



[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 08:35 PM
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Originally posted by ceci2006
Who would it make it easier on? You? A segment of the population who doesn't and is unwilling to learn another language?


um, the MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY, as opposed to a small segment of the population who refuses to leanr english. it's pretty hard to refrain from name-calling when there's someone who's too stubborn to accept that someone else might just be right about something when the amount of evidence against them is insurmountable.

get over yourself.



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 08:47 PM
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There's a difference between "English-Only" and having English as the official language of the US. I can't back an English-Only agenda, but I definitely feel that there should be an official language.

That doesn't mean it's mandatory to learn for immigrants. But I do think it should be taught in our schools. Any child growing up in the US school district should learn English. To be fair to everyone. If certain schools teach in French (let's say) then if an English-speaking child moves into that district, it's not right to make that kid learn French to go to that school.

It's like having rules to a game. Everyone doesn't bring their own rules.

Everyone can feel free to communicate in whatever language they please, but there should be one that everyone knows so we can all communicate with each other.

If I moved to France and put my child in school there, I certainly wouldn't expect them to have an English teacher on-hand to teach my child.



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 09:01 PM
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Originally quoted by 25cents

um, the MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY, as opposed to a small segment of the population who refuses to leanr english. it's pretty hard to refrain from name-calling when there's someone who's too stubborn to accept that someone else might just be right about something when the amount of evidence against them is insurmountable.


Have any statistics from an unbiased, academic source? And please, when you define who this "majority" is, include the data set and the methodology. I would like to see how the researchers surveyed THE MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY.

And would you do something for me please? When you make your erudite response on defining the MAJORITY OF THE COUNTRY, please do use a grammatical and spell check. English is so important. The butchering of it just grates my nerves.

[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 20 2006 @ 09:26 PM
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Originally quoted by Benevolent Heretic
There's a difference between "English-Only" and having English as the official language of the US. I can't back an English-Only agenda, but I definitely feel that there should be an official language.

That doesn't mean it's mandatory to learn for immigrants. But I do think it should be taught in our schools. Any child growing up in the US school district should learn English. To be fair to everyone. If certain schools teach in French (let's say) then if an English-speaking child moves into that district, it's not right to make that kid learn French to go to that school.


Benevolent Heretic, I agree with you. I would have no problem with English as the Official Language of the United States. Because that mainly is a ceremonial gesture to say that English is commonly spoken in America.

And for the most part, immigrants do learn the language and speak it when they need to. However, when they circulate amongst others of their own community, they engage in their own language. And it's their right to do so.

However, "English Only" proponents want this legislation for different reasons. I believe that what they are proposing is no different from the attempts of "colonization" that have done in the past. The problem is by making English manditory, they are jeopardizing all social, economic, educational and governmental institutions in the country. Sure, it'll probably save tax dollars from all the printing costs. But by showing a restrictive nature about English, it will probably worsen foreign relations.

America has been known as the "beacon of the world" and a place for "democratic principles". How democratic and open are we if we pass legislation that restricts or inhibits the ability for free speech as attested to in our Constitution? Would that mean to the rest of the world that we are slowly becoming a "totalitarian" society, a society that historical figures in the past have fought against?

And also, you can't force people to do anything. They would have to want to do it. And immigrants, for the most part, have been willing to learn English. In fact, travelers of other countries that I've come across from time to time try to use as much English as they can. I found that out especially when I've conversed with several of them. They would ask me about idioms and other things.

And also, it is dangerous to make everything English right away. For immigrants who don't have a good command of the English language would need a translation of signs, pamphlets, and other paraphenalia in terms of situations critical to their lives. And furthermore, what do these "English Only" proponents want to do? Crack down on Telemundo? Shut down the different television stations that cater to their specific ethnicities? And that would also mean Russian, French and German--depending on some regions.

It's ridiculous, if you relax about this rule. But if you seriously think about how emotional this issue is, it is downright scary.







[edit on 20-5-2006 by ceci2006]



posted on May, 21 2006 @ 12:47 AM
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I am gratified that we are able to hash out all the fundamentals of this issue here. Because, as I looked back over the responses yesterday and today, I realized something important: Language and its use is much more important than people think.

Language is the driving force in which fuels a nation. It provides the framework of laws and knowledge; it is the center of an economy; it also provides cultural differences and defines ethnicities. It is a beautful thing when used to benefit society. But at the same time, it bestows ugliness when words are used for hate and disparagment. Most importantly, it defines a national identity and history. It is the basis of heritage and culture. Without its use, how would we be able to define ourselves, let alone others?

That is why I think that language must be treated carefully and reverently. And when it is used for purposes such as the "English Only" law, it can only be implemented to divide and not unite the United States. As you read above, you might have gotten a glimpse of how the colonists and indigenous people of America communicated with each other at the birth of the nation. Because America is built from different nationalities, you must have also observed that it was voted down upon to make English its official language. Why? Because they felt that it violated the very spirit of democratic principles, if not the First Amendment:


Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.


There are several reasons in America why the "English Only Amendment" should not be implemented. First of all, it "abridges the freedom of speech". It also violates the right for "people to peaceably assemble." These two parts of the First Amendment is important because it plays right into language's insertion into heritage, culture and ethnicity.

In America, people "peaceably assemble" together according to status, class, race, ethnicity and gender. Within these groups, language is exchanged which delineates and describes their social positioning. And within ethnicities, the mother tongue of a group belongs to their national identity. When they are in their own neighborhoods (such as Japantown), people use language to express themselves, to exchange pleasantries, and of course, to conduct their daily business. They also have special words or idioms in their language that distinctly define what is remarkable and unique about themselves. And in marking certain days, or festivals or even in custom, these words play an important significant to their social and ethnic group.

Words are also used to distinctly describe the places they inhabit or the streets they walk. It gives the ethnicity its own flavor and essence, something to cherish. Language is also used to help keep records of their histories and tales in which further define the relevance of their people. And for people outside a distinctive ethnicity, without a sense of language from the said community, how are they to learn and appreciate other cultures if there are no words being exchanged to describe them?

The "English Only" law is a mean-spirited attempt to erase the beauty of language when tied to ethnicity. What the laws do is effectively practice language discrimination:



Language discrimination means treating someone differently solely because of his or her native language or other characteristics of speech.


By eliminating an ethnicity's language or speech, one effectively sends a silent message that the persons residing in a particular group do not matter. It is eliminating their history. It is eliminating their customs. It is eliminating their personal rights of expression. It is also negating their very humanity and right to exist. By not allowing others to free express themselves in their own language, they are impelled to forget their mother tongue as well as their family and cultural history. It is against the American way.

In closing, I'd like to suggest a hypothetical question. Suppose people are so angry with the way Texans are (you know, with GWB, Dixie Chicks and Tom DeLay). And the rest of the country wanted to start a movement to ban everything from Texas? They wanted to eliminate Texas' expressions (Sure enough; Sugar water; Y'all, etc.) from the English Language. They felt anything Texan was offensive. Texas celebrities, sports heroes and dignitaries would be detained and deported for simply being Texan. Include the "faux Texan", our POTUS.

They wouldn't eat Grits or take any beef.

And Congress, going along with public sentiment, decides to pass a bill effectively eliminating everything Texan (especially the "Hook 'em Horns" insignia and sign) from the national character. Texans were forbidden to express themselves. They were not supposed to conduct business using their idiomatic speech. They were not supposed to say, "Hook 'em Horns". There would be no signs saying "steer". No steer horns on cars. No Buckee's. No Luby's. "Dallas re-runs" would be banned. Forget about those Houston Texans and Dallas Cowboys. And of course, the Astros and the Rangers (most fittingly punished) would be banned from speech. The Alamo would be designated as a site of shame. And therefore, no American would be able to mention it.

What do you think might happen? Would you think the "Anti-Texan" Amendment would fly?

There'd be another civil war in America, if such a ridiculous amendment would pass. You know it and I know it. All because of language and the paranoid associations with Texas.





[edit on 21-5-2006 by ceci2006]


apc

posted on May, 21 2006 @ 01:16 AM
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By eliminating an ethnicity's language or speech, one effectively sends a silent message that the persons residing in a particular group do not matter. It is eliminating their history. It is eliminating their customs. It is eliminating their personal rights of expression. It is also negating their very humanity and right to exist. By not allowing others to free express themselves in their own language, they are impelled to forget their mother tongue as well as their family and cultural history. It is against the American way.


No. No. No. No. No. No. And no.

This is what I have been saying all along: noone is being forced to speak English at all times.

The only area this legislation is applicable is official interactions. Governmental operations, publications, and communications.

There will not, and likely will never be a law stating: No person or persons shall converse in any language other than English.

If companies want to have rules of this nature, that is entirely within their right. But this law does not concern that issue. This is strictly in regards to official medium.

There is absolutely ZERO stripping of rights, culture, heritage, or even language! There is no restriction of how people converse amongst themselves, or even with private entities. If there is a Russian pub, the patrons would still be fully free to speak Russian. But the owner must be able to understand English if he wants to get a business license.






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