Monday, July 22, 2019

American English: Racist?

One thing that makes a nation is a common heritage and culture, which is often shown by a common language. After all, communicating is what language is all about. And people can't communicate if they are speaking different languages. Quite a few countries require prospective immigrants to demonstrate proficiency with their language: Canada and France come to mind.

Map of US official language status by state before 2016. Blue: English declared the official language; light-blue: 2 official languages, including English; gray: no official language specified

While English is not an actual official language, there are some who consider it the de facto national language. It is the sole, but unofficial, language of the federal government. the United States federal government has recognized no official language, even though nearly all federal, state and local government business is conducted in English

There have been attempts to make English the official language of the US with the first major one being in 1923 with a bill drafted by Congressman Washington J. McCormick. The U.S. House of Representatives passed English as the official language in 1996, but the Senate did not act on the measure before the conclusion of the 104th Congress. English is the official language of 32 states as of 2019.

Proponents of this movement include US Senator S.I. Hayakawa and Mauro E. Mujica, who is a naturalized citizen, Mujica was born in Antofagasta, Chile, and moved to the United States in 1964. Is someone who speaks multiple languages who berates someone for speaking Spanish really racist or just pointing out that it's rude to speak another language (e.g, Aaron Schlossberg).  Could he have made his point in another way.

Contrary to what is often believed, most of the world's population is bilingual or multilingual. Monolingualism is characteristic only of a minority of the world's peoples. On the other hand, it makes more sense to speak the common language instead of another language (Disclosure: I speak English, French, and German)

Would it take the US making English the official language to end this debate, especially since currently it seems that people who are "Trump supporters" are being accused of the being the crowd who support speaking English.

On the other hand, having a common language would be a factor in a national identity.

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