All The News That Fits

Do We Need an Official Language?

Posted by Nancy on June 5, 2008

 

Are you tired of trying to find the English instructions on a newly purchased item?  Or having to Press One for English when making a phone call?

I have found a place to expess your frustrations where it just might help make a difference.  So, as a public service, I give you the following link:

                          

                         

I am not one of those anit-immigration, “send them all home” people, but I do think if people want to come to our country they should expect to learn the language and conduct their business in English.  Otherwise we will end up with a Balkanization of our society, fracturing it along linguistic and ethnic lines. 

In other words, the “melting pot” that has been America will stop melting.

I remember listening to my maternal grandmother and her sister converse in Swedish, the language they learned as children in their newly-immigrant home.  They spoke English flawlessly though, since that is the language they learned in the schools and what their parents also learned to speak, although brokenly.  My grandmother told how her parents wanted everyone to speak English, the language of their new country, which they discerned was necessary to be successful.

I remember my paternal grandmother and her brother sprinkling their conversations with German phrases even though they couldn’t speak the language fluently.  Their recent-immigrant parents spoke English in the home, since their mother’s native language was German and their father’s was French but both could speak fractured English.  With the waves of German immigrants at that time their mother often spoke German with friends and relatives though, and their children picked up some of the language.

My mother never learned Swedish, and my father never learned German, because both families considered themselves Americans and saw the wisdom of adopting the language and culture of their new country.  They saw no benefit in passing along remnants of what they chose to leave, instead choosing to look ahead at the opportunities that awaited their families.

Our government officials need to study history and see how well this attitude of absorption served untold millions of immigrants and, more importantly, how well it served our country which was made stronger by those same immigrants.  They assimilated and became Americans; they didn’t become hyphenated Americans, putting their country of origin ahead of their new country. 

Unfortunately, many of our current policies seem to perversely reward behaviors detrimental to the welfare of our society and the future of our country. 

I love my country.  Is it perfect?  No.  But it gives more freedom and individual opportunity than any other in the history of mankind and I can think of no other where a I would prefer to live.  We need to cherish it and understand what created it and what has kept it cohesive, then follow that proven formula for success.

A common language is of paramount importance.

 

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3 Responses to “Do We Need an Official Language?”

  1. Kudos to you for this insightful post. I recently tried to install a wi-fi catcher on my new laptop, and it took me 15 minutes to find the directions. I kid you not when I say there were 8 languages on the damn thing.

  2. iyot said

    iyot ta ninyung tanan para managhan

  3. Although I agree that immigrants must learn English if they can – and very few intend never to learn it – I myself, though born in Alabama, would be extremely reluctant to speak only English at home.

    My parents speak English at work and Cantonese at home, so for me, English tends to be the language of my public life and Chinese the language of my home life: if I speak English to my parents, it usually indicates irony of some kind. At the same time, though, older immigrants often find it harder to learn English, especially if they came over after their kids had already graduated from university or graduate school.

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