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Designating an Official Language to the United States
Eng122; English Composition II
Professor Susan Kissel
TA Matthew Gainous
June 18, 2012
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The United States has a national flag, a national anthem, national holidays and even a national soccer team. Something the United States does not have is a national language. This topic is not necessarily a problem for our country like homelessness or the crashing economy, but is a subject that many feel passionate, even debated in Congress as reported by msnbc.com as recently as May 16, 2012. By declaring an official language for our country, this could strengthen the unification of its citizens as well as empowering immigrants to help them prosper in business. The United States would greatly benefit to have English as its official language.
This highly controversial topic is approachable from many different aspects. Many think that having the opinion, “you live in the United States, learn English” is a racially derogative remark. A retort to this is, “English as an official language has nothing to do with discrimination. This isn’t about race. People from every race come to the US and learn to understand the American dialect of English.” (Debate: English as official US Language. October 2010, Integration or Discrimination, Pro p. 5) In fact, according to an U.S. English Chairman Mauro E. Mujica, English is considered the language of success in countries like China, France and Africa, but we prevent American citizens from reaching their full potential by providing foreign language translations. (U.S. English Chairman to Congress: Support English as Official Language of the United States, 2012)
English is an international language spoken all over the world that was originally borrowed from the world. If English is used as a global language, there might be some advantages related to communication and business. However, there are also several disadvantages in terms of losing mother tongue and taking time and money. The advantages outweigh the disadvantages, so English should be made the ...
Another aspect of the importance of having an official language designated for the country is that it is a unified language, which can assist in assimilation to the whole of the country. As Theodore Roosevelt, our 26th president of the United States said in 1907,
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“There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn’t an American at all. We have room for one flag, the American flag. … We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language. … And we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people. (Carter, 2011, p. 1) President Roosevelt’s words ring as true today as it was in 1907.
On the other side of this debated coin, it is a topic that some enthusiastically oppose, their concerns are justifiable. Some view it as persecution of individual’s constitutional rights and a “Get out” from people upset because their community is starting to look less and less like them. (Dovak, 2012) Opponents of Official English policies argue that this is an unconstitutional move, which would hinder communication between governmental employees and immigrants, prevents many from voting and alienate non-English speaking citizens. (Does the United States need an Official Language? n.d) In other words, they believe it to be discriminating, supported by anti-immigrant, racial ignorant people.
Many immigrants that come to this country will embrace the English language, while still holding their native tongue close to their heart and use this while speaking with friends and family. In 1997, the census bureau conducted a countrywide census, detailing the language use in the United States. Of 230,445,777 people in the census, 81% of people only speak English (198,600,789).
Questions asked in this census were “”Does this person speak a language other
America And The English Language Essay, Research America And The English Language America and the English Language To what degree do the words you use define the person you are? This is a central question in the hotly debated issue of making English the official language of the United States. If English did become the official language, the rights of people who do not speak English would be ...
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than English at home?” “What is this language?” “How well does this person speak English –very well, well, not well, not at all?” This census does not breakdown every type of language
reported, but does include the number of households that Spanish is the main language, which was only 7% of the results. (Census.gov, 1997)
Three years later the census bureau completed another language census, this one going into detail of languages spoken in the United States. The percentage of people speaking English only in the household is staying strong at 80%; however, the most popular alternative language spoken is again Spanish, this time at 13% of the overall population, just under double of the prior census. This survey does detail additional languages within the United State, including (but not limited to) Portuguese, French, and Italian, along with less commonly known Tagalog. This survey details how languages spoken in the household has changed over a 27 year period (1980-2007).
Where Portuguese has increased by 95% since 1980, Italian decreased by 50.6%. Some languages have erupted since 1980, such as Vietnamese (212%) and Russian (390%) (Census.gov, 2010)
While this could support an official language is not in the best interest of the country, with three-quarters of all citizens speaking English, another language overtaking English is not an immediate possibility. Unfortunately, “English as a Second Language” classes have very long waiting lists. Without the resources available, to learn English when people arrive here is a difficult if not impossible goal to achieve.” (Debate: English as official US Language. October 2010, Learning English, Con, para. 2) With a long waitlist for these classes, it is quite probable
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that the percentages on the next census will show foreign languages increasing, while the English percentage will hold steady, if not decline.
The schools in the United States teach their curriculum in English, offering optional language classes in the more popular backgrounds of Spanish, French, Russian, etc. When going to a hospital or doctor’s office, English is the main language spoken. In waiting for a translator to arrive, serious injuries could be missed and be the difference between life and death. While offering paperwork in each language imaginable may be helpful to people, if the employee processing the paperwork does not speak that language, mistakes are possible in translating the information. Another area where an Official Language bill would benefit are road signs. Very rarely do you see these posted in anything other than English, to have the road signs posted in multiple languages is cumbersome and by the time you find the language you speak, you’ve passed the sign.
The term stranger is hard to define. By definition, the stranger is not only an outsider but also someone different and personally known. (Parillo, 7) This definition could pertain to many people. One such group of people are the Hispanic Americans. Hispanic Americans are the ethnic group that attracts the most public attention. Hispanics are the largest ethnic group in the United States; however, ...
In passing a bill that would declare English the official language of the United States, it would benefit the people who choose to leave their homeland in search for the American Dream.
It would provide them with the basic tools to succeed in the business world and help them communicate with others in the community. In order to make this a success, an increase of English as a Second Language classes need to be made available, as the current level of availability is miniscule compared to the need, and that need is only going to increase. With an Official Language passed by Congress for the United States, preferably English, our county can thrive and prosper, and communications would be simplified and you will no longer need to “press 1 for English”.
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Carter, B. (11 May 2011) Tougher Immigration Law Is Necessary
Retrieved by: http://proquest.umi.com/pqdweb?index=1&did=2345140221&SrchMode=2&sid=1&Fmt=3&VInst=PROD&VType=PQD&RQT=309&VName=PQD&TS=1338647321&clientId=74379
Census.gov (1990)Language Use and English Ability, Persons 5 Years and Over, by State: 1990
Census Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/population/socdemo/language/table1.txt
Census.gov (April 2010) Language Use in the United States: 2007
Retrieved from: http://www.census.gov/hhes/socdemo/language/data/acs/ACS-12.pdf
Debate: English as official US Language. (17 October 2010) Integration or discrimination:
There is currently a movement taking place to split the United States into a bilingual society. Many Hispanic political leaders are pressing for bilingual education which could possibly mean that English and Spanish will become the official U. S. languages (Hayakawa 72). The bilingual education program seeks to permit non-English speaking children to use their native language instead of English in ...
Does official English advance the former or later? Retrieved from: http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate:_English_as_US_official_language
(Note: while this is not a scholarly site, it is used to show opinions of both sides of this argument.)
Debate: English as official US Language. (17 October 2010) Learning English: Does official
English encourage learning language? Retrieved from: http://debatepedia.idebate.org/en/index.php/Debate:_English_as_US_official_language
(Note: while this is not a scholarly site, it is used to show opinions of both sides of this argument.)
Does the United States need an Official Language? (n.d.) Introduction, paragraph 3.
Retrieved from: http://maxweber.hunter.cuny.edu/eres/docs/eres/GSR716A_KUECHLER/monique.htm
U.S.English Chairman to Congress: Support English as Official Language of the United States (16 May
2012) Retrieved from: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/47451275/ns/business-press_releases/t/usenglish-chairman-congress-support-english-official-language-united-states/