Thursday, January 29, 2009

US English Scare Tactic #1

In its mission to make English the official language of the US, US English has set out to clarify why we should all be so concerned about not making it the official language.

US English Scare Tactic #1 (I mean- talking point #1)
Official English promotes unity

There are 322 languages spoken in the United States. How are immigrants going to communicate with each other and with native born Americans if we all speak a different language?

Sometimes it surprises me how seemingly intelligent people recall so little about their own nation's history. English promotes unity? How quickly they forgot all about the civil war. Interestingly, the bloodiest war in our nation's history actually was between people who spoke the same language. Are we somehow all supposed to magically get along just by speaking English? An interesting notion but one that has never proven to be true.

Africans brought to this country learned English. Did that bring them unity with whites. Well, not exactly. There was something called "slavery" that kept them separated and unequal. The ability to speak English didn't do them a whole lot of good back then. In fact, I seam to recall that the Irish also faced harsh treatment by other "native" English speakers. But if they spoke English, why didn't they all treat each other respectfully and feel united in the English language. Could it be that unity doesn't have anything to do with language?

In fact, some of the most peaceful countries are actually multilingual. Switzerland comes to mind. Don't they have four official languages? And there are plenty of other multilingual countries that don't seam to be roiled in strife.I guess they manage to get along somehow. Oh, now I remember, they teach their children more than one language in school. That's right, becoming multilingual can actually make you more tolerant and respectful of others. And isn't that what leads to peace on earth?

I guess this whole "unity" thing might not be the best argument for the U.S. English cause. Maybe tomorrow we'll see what else they have up their sleeve.

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