Originally posted by jsobecky
do you think this is a non-issue? Should we continue as we are without an official language?
I'm not sure it's a non issue exactly, I'm just not sure that an
official language is the answer, especially given the way some people
understand it. To make a long story short (right before I make it long again) what I'm saying is that "official language" is really not the
appropriate term for what I percieve to be the actual controversy.
There has been some discussion of what an official language is earlier and I think this might be a good time for me to take a little time to
acknowledge that nuance. English is a de facto official language in most senses of the word. Our legal standards are defined in English, it's used in
most government functions, etc.
That is infact different from a recognized minority language (alternate languages in which the government transacts business with citizens and
allows/requires public and private entities to be able to do business in).
Then there are mediums of instruction: We primarily teach in English, but in many instances allow for English-Second-Language programs.
I totally get that. The problem is that I don't think the rank and file of the pro-official language crowd does.
, while it required a few amendments to become completely fair and practical, is
not necessarily what the far right would expect or want it to be.
Clearly Justmytype had no idea that it only affects the government, because he was complaining about the language of literature in his opening post. I
see where he got it. He just doesn't understand the concept of an official language or the requirements of the US Constitution well enough to read
that bill (there is an ambiguity in what the bill proposed to make Title 4, Chapter 6, Section 163, paragraph c of the US Code which could be
mistakenly read as applying to all publications as opposed to government publications).
So in the context of popular discourse as I observe it (a lot of nationalist citizens believing they're going to make English the only language in
America), there's absolutely no way that an "official language" as they understand it is the answer.
Now, a true official language doesn't mean much. English is our defacto official language already. Thats the language of our laws, the language of
our governing bodies, the language of record in our courts, etc etc. It won't help much, it won't hurt much, legislate that all you want.
The popular issue seems to be recognition of minority languages for official purposes, medium of instruction, and of course universal fluency in a
common language for social purposes.
Multiple officially recognized minority languages is basically what you proposed as an alternative when you asked me the question and in large part we
have that. We should definately protect that in our laws in order to ensure that any political entity- federal government, state government, county,
municipal government, etc, is required to provide its materials in such a manner that no group constituting a designated percentage of those who must
have access is deprived, and furthermore provide for access to a translation service for smaller minorities. For instance, if 10% of the population of
a given city only speaks Spanish, or only speaks Korean, or whatever, then that city should probably provide mailings on ballot initiatives, tax
forms, etc in their language. Now if .5% of the population in that city only speaks one of those languages, that's another matter, but if the city
can make translation software available at the public library or some other such sollution, they should probably do what they realistically can.
Public education should definately make it a priority to get people fluent in English, but that is going to include ESL classrooms. The idea that you
can throw somebody into an English-only school without one word of English vocabulary and expect them to catch up through immersion is pretty far out
there. You will learn to associate some words with some commands- I'm sure math would be easy enough to get- but a guy who jumps into an english only
history or english class at the highschool level with NO english ability is going to stare blankly and get nothing. I bought the immersion thing, but
even with 2 and a half years of highschool Spanish and a semester more in college, I can watch Spanish televison all day and not learn a dang thing. I
tried repeatedly over the course of this semester. English as the exclusive language of instruction just won't work. Again multiple recognized
languages are needed, and there should be an online program for less common languages so that a school doesn't have to hire a teacher and buy texts
etc etc just to teach the only 2 students in the school who speak Mandarin.
Then socially speaking, education will solve a lot, but we can't go banning languages obviously, and I think Justmytype is in a very thin minority on
that idea. This crap where we suspend students from school for speaking another language with their friends has gotta stop.