Gastonia, NC Correspondent-I surely don’t mind English becoming the official language of the United States, but we need to be sure to specify that it’s American English unless we want to start calling our car hoods “bonnets” and telling Tom Brady he can’t grab the ball with his hand unless he’s the goalie.
An ancillary to this issue, and one that always seems to lurk on the tips of the tongues of those advocating most stridently for it, is “English-only” when it comes to things like government documents, ballots and other bits of municipal paper. I have an issue with that. Especially in this day of a largely paperless society, it costs very little to print/make available government documents in more than one language.
Proponents of English-only laws frequently bind their argument together with the illegal immigration debate, as if somehow ensuring that the local election ballot in Wisconsin is only in English will keep desperate folks in search of jobs from hopping our southern border by any means necessary. What such a law WILL do is keep recent legal immigrants, who may be learning English but may not yet have full fluency, from exercising their right to vote to the fullest extent.
I’m not for a moment suggesting that ballots be printed in dozens of languages, which is another straw man thrown up by the English-only folks, but it’s surely simple to figure out what the major non-English languages are in a given community and cater to those. In Minneapolis, the large Hmong population is a vital part of the economic and cultural life, and their language is integrated into all levels of civic government.
By all means, make English our official language. And while we’re doing that, let’s fully fund ESL programs for both children and adults and make sure we’re paying teachers a living wage. That’s another issue our English-only champions don’t seem too keen on, preferring to spend money on border fences and bombers.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-It is more than time that English is declared the official language of the United States, and the Congress has attempted to do so through a number of bills, past and present, that have gone through the House but have been waylaid in the Senate. Most recently, Senator Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma re-introduced the English Language Unity Act (S.678), which would establish English as the official language of the United States, and both he, and Representative Steve King of Iowa, introduced other official English bills that are pending in committee, H.R. 997 and S. 464. Many states, 31 for that matter, have adopted English as their official state language, and as of 2013, 84% of Americans polled are clamoring for resolving the official language issue at the federal level, once and for all.
An official language is imperative for a number of reasons that include a standard and legally binding communication tool in which government operates. Without language clarification, conflicts with government laws, regulations, general announcements and proclamations can occur and create confusion and misinterpretation. Additionally, any official government service that necessitates documentation must be in English in order for consistent and equitable operation at the federal level to occur. Allowances must be extremely limited for any such transactions that are not based in English.
Our country has been an English speaking nation since its beginning and our founding documents are in English as well. As statistics indicate, Americans want to preserve English as their common language. Acceptance of hundreds of different languages for government communication simply will not work and will always create confusion to those who feel they are entitled to use their native language rather than English.
The federal government must also conform to what is standard with other institutions such as the federal court systems, the U.S. Army and the United Nation’s member nations (53), all of which have adopted English as their official language. The burdens of carrying various languages for official government business brings with it prohibitive costs and conflicts that are contentious and irresolvable. In order to avoid this type of discord, official language declaration and its use is the only answer to future disputes, whether with individuals or countries.
The implications of making English the official language of the United States are positive in the sense that for purely practical reasons the United States must set the highest of language standards for all citizens to operate effectively, efficiently and productively, and if allowances for other language use are constantly sanctioned, there will continue to be uncertainties, misunderstandings, compromises and conflicts in adjustment to English language use. Negative implications of establishing English federally are brought on by those who feel official English is discriminatory towards foreign enteritis or residents (legal or illegal) who refuse to abandon their native language and learn and acclimate themselves to the use of English.
A lowering of standards has been created with foreign language proliferation, and the acceptance of such use in a predominantly based English system of operation is quite disconcerting Statistics indicate that removing the support system of foreign language translations and other accommodations for non-English speaking individuals and organizations only serves to improve and enhance their rate of success and escape from poverty and other limitations. Adherence to fundamental guidelines of learning, speaking and writing English opens doors and provides non-English speaking individuals with a sense of unification, equality and Americanization.
Congress and state legislatures must make it a priority to establish, pass and enforce official English as law of the land. As former House Speaker, Newt Gingrich, has said, “The civilization will decay and the culture will collapse without a common language.” Unity as a nation cannot be maintained and English must be uplifted, supported and promoted as the one common language for all.