There is a movement brewing in the United States to make English the official language of the country, but the whole idea seems preposterous. After all, the English and others who speak Her Majesty’s tongue would be the first to explain that what Americans speak is not English. At best, the official language should be American. But the debate continues regardless. That is why we must do whatever is necessary to prevent English from being declared the official language of the United States.
The debate centers on the concept that a nation needs an official language to be homogenous and that declaring an official language will mean that the government no longer has to print documents in a dozen different languages. Those in favor of the proposal argue that it will also mean we no longer have to push one for English. Proponents claim it will save millions and that it will lead to the entirety of the country forming a single identity. Opponents to the proposal argue that we have operated for 230 years without an official languages and that there is simply no reason to start with one now. They argue that the concept of an official language is racist and attacks the non-Anglo citizens of the country. An official language is unnecessary and should not be enacted.
There is absolutely nothing to be gained by declaring English the official language of the United States. Moreover, it is time to acknowledge that most of the countries of the world do not have one official language, they have multiple. Choosing English as the official language of the United States encourages the xenophobic an.d elitist attitude that Americans have long been accused of worldwide. Americans need to learn additional languages, not force others to learn theirs. The concept that Americans are so arrogant as to assume that everyone else should have to learn their language is insulting to non-Anglo citizens and the rest of the world as well.
Another reason that declaring English the official language of the Untied States is simply wrong is that a significant portion of the American populace does not speak English or at the very least does not speak it well. Recent estimates are that soon the Hipic population in the United States will make up as much as 25 percent of the total population. Most of the immigrants do not speak English as their first language and so then requiring them to only speak English when dealing with official government documents or calling to conduct any sort of business, is insulting and racist. In addition, in other countries where the majority of the populace speaks multiple languages, the country has more than one official language. If the proposal were to make English and Spanish the official languages of the country, it would make much more sense.
Finally, the single best argument against making English the official language of the United States is that it is completely contradictory to the entire history of the nation. American history is based on the concept that America is as a melting pot, but that melting pot was never intended to make us all the same. We are supposed to celebrate our differences and celebrate the variety of different cultures that make up our country, not try to smash them all into the same identical little box. The concept that a country made up entirely of immigrants could then try to decide that the language of one group of immigrants was more important than the language of the other immigrants is completely contradictory to the founding principles of the country. It negates the very theory of freedom of choice and freedom to pursue life, liberty and happiness.
Proponents of English as the official language say that while some countries worldwide have two official languages, right now the United States has none. The lack of an official language means that government documents must be presented in many different languages, adding to the cost of doing business. Furthermore, may countries around the world are adding English to their list of official languages because English is the language of business around the world. If any language comes close to be the language of the world, it is English. Perhaps because of the extent of the British Empire and possibly because of the economic power of English-speaking languages, most business transactions around the world are conducted in English. Therefore, it makes sense that America would make English its official language.
Simply because a portion of the populace has not taken the time to learn the language of commerce, does not mean that they should be used as an excuse to keep the rest of the country from making progress. The fact of the matter is that most of the country’s business is already conducted in English and the excuse that people have not yet learned the language is not a valid argument in favor of avoiding having an official language.
Finally, yes, America has always been the melting pot and the land of opportunity where people can bring their culture and share it with others. But over the generations, those immigrants have always adopted the language of the land and the laws of the land in the process of assimilating into their new country. To say that because we are a nation of immigrants we cannot have a uniform language is to put our individual cultures above our collective culture. It is time for our culture to overcome and create an American identity.
The decision to name an official language remains unnecessary when it forces some part of the American populace to feel that the it is a personal affront. While it may be time for the country to develop a national identity, it should not have to be done at the expense of the other members of the society. In short, American should still be the land of opportunity and those who do not speak English as their primary language should not be discriminated against simply because they have not yet learned the language of commerce.
In addition, the reality is that anyone who has spoken extensively with people who speak the Queen’s English knows that Americans do not speak the same English as the remainder of the world. American and English truly are related languages, but not the same. It is perfectly legitimate to acknowledge English as the language of business and commerce, but there is no overriding reason to make it the official language of the nation. And, the main reason why it is unnecessary is that quite simply, we’ve done without it for 231 years. Why change things that work?
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