Make the official language of the USA English?

Sara - posted on 04/27/2010 ( 126 moms have responded )

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I've been thinking about this, and I can't help but wonder, what are people trying to acheive by making English the official Language of the US? Do they think that if it becomes the official language that everyone will magically be able to speak English? That we won't have illegal immigrants? Do they really think that companies will no longer have the "press 1 for English" instructions any longer because they will not cater to all of their customer base? Do they think it will be illegal to speak any language other than English?

What do these people hope to accomplish? Seriously...what am I missing?

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Johnny - posted on 04/27/2010

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No, it's pronounced differently here. You say "veg-e-mite" and the french say "vey-jey-mitey".

Does it "still" taste good? LOL. That's like suggesting it was delicious to begin with ;-P

Jodi - posted on 04/27/2010

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You know what? I've even seen Vegemite with a label on it with bothe French and English while I was in Canada. It actually cracked me up to see that Vegemite in French is still Vegemite :P

Johnny - posted on 04/27/2010

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Well, living where there are 2 official languages, I'm not so sure what the big deal is. For us, it guarantees that no matter where we are in the country, we are legally entitled to access services in one of those 2 languages. If I happen to be in Chinatown, the bank is obligated to ensure service in English. We do make lots of provisions for people who are in the process of learning one of these languages though. It is pretty hard when you arrive in a new country, in middle age, to just pick up a new language right away. Many stores provide services in the most common languages, the libraries have books and storytimes in other languages, the banks and community centres have staff who provide a variety of language services. We are a multicultural nation, and while we should all be able to or be working on speaking one of the 2 official languages, having all those other languages spoken and welcomed provides a pleasant diversity. Perhaps it is different in the US, but I find that generally, everyone who has been here a while eventually seems to learn English, and many kids can barely speak their mother tongue the first generation after immigration.

Jenny - posted on 04/27/2010

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Well if it's on the cereal boxes, the hard work is already done. You just have to make it official!

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Ummm... most labels and such in America are already in a lot of different languages (mostly English, Spanish and sometimes French depending on the product), so the "extra" expense is already there as is...

Celia - posted on 04/27/2010

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All you Americans have to do is say you want to go the way of Canada and have English AND Spanish be official. Then you force corporations to print both languages on their labels like we do in Canada. Then force the southers states who have the highest concentration of spanish speaking people to have both english and spanish on all signage like we do in Quebec and fine people who dont!!
I promise you that if the people asked for that the powers that be (not your government... the lobbyists for major corporations) would squash the official language debate in a heartbeat and you'd all be right back where you started problem solved :D
No way do they want to pay extra for all that work!

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You know, I don't see much of a point of making English the "official" lauguage of America. Honestly, most American's don't even speak proper english themselves (I'm an English major and the english language is so fascinating for me! I always tell people the I speak 2 languages: English and Proper English. LOL).

The beauty of American is that it IS a melting pot of languages and people, BUT I do think that people who are moving here should learn English as a common courtesy (just like I would at least try my hardest to learn French if I moved to France or other languages/countries).

I do not think that making English the "official" language of America would actually do anything. The forms would STILL be written in different languages (and here in CA our daughter's school forms come in English, Spanish, Mandrin, Japanese, Russian, and many others, but I can't think of them. At the begining of the school year we check a box that says what language is spoken at home and the forms are sent in that language). AND interpretation services would still have to be provided to those who need them in government buildings (yes, at the taxpayer's expense). It's a basic human right to be understood and no "official" language could change that - the US would be slapped with a lawsuit so quick if someone was denied translation services!

Jessica - posted on 04/27/2010

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LOL Erin- I'm sure there's gotta be an app out there somewhere! haha! You can practically pop out a roll of t.p. with your i-phone these days! It's insane how far technology is going!

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I don't see the point! Regardless we should all just get smart phone or iphone? and get that lovely app that translates for you! How awesome is that! Why should anyone get smarter we'll just make things to accomodate our laziness!

Jocelyn - posted on 04/27/2010

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I don't see the problem with having one (or even two) official languages. I believe if you move here (in my case, to Canada) you should know how to speak at least ONE of our languages. Just as if I were going to move in India, I would learn Hindi. If I am moving to THEIR country, so I am going to try my hardest to learn THEIR language.

Jessica - posted on 04/27/2010

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why do americans do anything that we do? politicians suck... bottom line...
Changing the official language is just another stupid plan to waste more tax dollars.
Kinda like the do-do bird wanting to change the national anthem to "I'd like to teach the world to sing" b/c the line that says "rockets red glare, fire bombs bursting in air" is "too violent and depressing" ... and he's serious by the way.

it's all a huge power trip... that's it!

I don't really care what the "official language" is b/c either way, everything is going to be primarily written in english. we're going to have to learn spanish either way. and "foreigners" are going to have to learn english (esp docs and professors... i mean, heeelllooooo!) whether they like it or not...
but, just sayin...

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In Australia, the official language is English, but we have signs and forms in lots of other languages. In one of the libraries I worked in, we had different language collections - Turkish, Arabic, Polish, Croation,Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Chinese, Sinhalese, Japanese - and they're just the ones I can think of off the top of my head. We had children's storytelling sessions in a range of languages. Other libraries' collections reflected their population base too.

People from different countries live here, so why not make things a bit easier? Most of them aim to learn English eventually but often can't because government funding for English language classes keeps being cut, and also, many of these people are barely literate in their own language.

At least in Australia our English is spelt correctly!! JUST JOKING!!!

?? - posted on 04/27/2010

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Technically "The United States Of America" was 'founded' by English speaking men because 'the first official president of the united states' (George Washington) came after a few years of different states becoming settled.

I could be wrong, I am just going by my own tid bits of information picked up here and there, but there were almost half a dozen 'elected officials' who acted as the president of the 'united states' before the official United States Of America was formed and declared one country. Before then the nation was going to be ran like in Europe where each state would be it's own 'country' and then George Washington became the 'first official president of The United States Of America' around 1790 (I think it was close to 1790) when he was elected by the continental commission but before then, there were almost half a dozen 'presidents' who were all elected and served for a year a piece until the USA was officially 1 country when Washington was sworn in.

Please correct me if I am wrong, my US history is a lil shakey but from what I can remember, reading, listening and learning that is my general understanding of how the USA was formed. If you are going to correct me though, give me real proof not some "my text book told me so" BS because text books are not always right.

That being said, before that day... english, french, spanish and X amount of native american languages were all forms of communication and if there is going to be any sort of 'we were here first' decision on the matter, well, the Native's win. And you'll all be told to learn some form of aboriginal language depending on where you live and what tribe or ancestry is from that area lol

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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Yeah. I think most of the desire for the official language comes from peoples feelings about the hispanic population. We have a reasonable hispanic population where I am, but we also have a pretty high refugee population. We have a resettlement program in place. Most of my immigrant classmates in particular are from africa and the middle east. ( I don't know if they're refugees or anything, I don't know their circumstances) You can't really expect someone to learn english before they flee persecution in their homeland, which is another reason I just don't really care. There comes a point where you have to start drawing a million lines and deciding under what circumstances its acceptable for someone to be here and not have learned english, so on, who's okay and who isn't adapting. Its just too much.

Rosie - posted on 04/27/2010

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i don't really think it would make a difference, would they really get rid of the forms for spanish speakers, would they really not hire a translater? i don't think they would. i do agree that if you come here you need to learn english, just as if i were to move to japan i would learn japanese, but that just seems like simple common sense to me. i think it should be law that you learn english when you come here, but whether or not it's the "official" language seems pointless to me.

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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(If I'm not mistaken) 27 of the 50 states already have statutes regarding their official language. Indiana (my state) being one of them, however, as far as I know our government offices still provide documents in spanish (or whatever others they have on hand) on request. So what exactly do they hope to accomplish by making our official language english? It certainly won't change anything where I am, as they've already amended the state constitution to say -25 years ago- that we speak english and our materials are in english, but yet we still (thankfully) accommodate our immigrant population, so what was their point? It's silly and pointless in my opinion.

Sarah - posted on 04/27/2010

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Everyone knows that if you just speak English slower and more loudly that EVERYONE will understand you!!!
(i'm joking! it does seem like some people think that way though!)

La - posted on 04/27/2010

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"but it is extremely important that all people, regardless of national origin, be helped with translating in circumstances in which they absolutely need to understand precisely what is being said and in which they need to be understood, precisely, with no language barriers."



I agree that for important matters people need to understand what they are getting into...my problem is that we go out of our way to cater to spanish speaking people and pretty much give the big F--- YOU to all other nationalities. Then we go a step further and make everything, including non essential documents, in spanish so there is never a need on their part to assimilate to our primary means of communication. Why should hispanics get preferential treatment over every other immigrant group?

Sara - posted on 04/27/2010

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I just want to add that when most American's go to foreign countries, we expect that most people will speak English...you can say all you like that we will learn the language, but I don't really think it's true.

Krista - posted on 04/27/2010

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That's actually a good point, LaCi. If I went to Japan to live, obviously I'd do my best to learn Japanese. But in the meantime, if I inadvertently broke a law, would it not be a violation of my human rights to not find me English-speaking counsel and/or a translator?

I don't know if having an official language precludes that, though. As I mentioned, Canada has two official languages, but in Section 14 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it says explicitly:

A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf has the right to the assistance of an interpreter.

Persons who are deaf or do not understand or speak the language being spoken in court have the right to be assisted by an interpreter. This right applies regardless of which language is involved.


It could very well be that there is already a similar provision in the Bill of Rights, but I don't see one, when taking a quick glance.

So, IF the U.S. is going to designate English as its official language, then it should also introduce an Amendment to the Bill of Rights similar to our Section 14.

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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Anyway, this got off topic with personal language preference.

"The ACLU believes that English-only laws can violate the U.S. Constitution's protection of due process (especially in courts where no translation service would be offered) and equal protection (for example, where English-only ballots would be used where bilingual ones were available in the past)."

There is a huge problem, I think half the students in my current school are here on student visas. So they are here legally, and they do speak some english, but it is extremely important that all people, regardless of national origin, be helped with translating in circumstances in which they absolutely need to understand precisely what is being said and in which they need to be understood, precisely, with no language barriers.

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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Thats your prerogative, and it's my grandmothers prerogative to not learn to use a computer. Good thing she's retired.

Tawny - posted on 04/27/2010

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So I am ignorant because I dont learn other languages hmmmm well first I am not... but if i was to go to Mexico, France or some other country that speaks there language then I will make darn sure to learn it so that I can get around and not look like an idiot... But if I live here in America I am only going to learn English.... :)

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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I understand people being offended and disliking the idea of learning a new language because those gosh darn foreigners keep coming in, but you know what? It's evolution. It is a changing population and you have to evolve. It is an absolute necessity IMO. Comparable to learning new technology, its increasingly a necessity in our culture.

Sharon - posted on 04/27/2010

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Yeah Laci all laws here are drawn up on napkins and used thusly. Screw it, its a law, I'm not gonna follow it. Now I see why people are lenient on drunk drivers and crackheads, they're just exercising free will, not breaking laws, they're ENTITLED right? Screw everyone else.

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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And what about puerto rico and guam? Shall we demand they all learn english, since technically they are ours.

Krista - posted on 04/27/2010

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I think there's a difference between learning a language because you WANT to, and being told that you HAVE to learn it because of all of the new people who have come in. I imagine the Native Americans felt much the same way about us as south-western Americans now feel about Mexicans.



Personally, I do think that if you move to a new country, it behooves you to make as much of an attempt as possible to learn that country's primary language.



However, if I moved to Mexico, and was part of a large enclave of Canadians there, and someone opened up a store and advertised prominently that they spoke English there, they'd be a lot more likely to get my business. So sometimes it's good business sense. And in the case of a service, using a hospital as an example, it's a hell of a lot more feasible to hire a few nurses and doctors who speak Spanish, than to demand that your entire clientele speak English.



That's why I'm not sure this "official language" business will make much of a difference. Services and businesses will still have a certain amount of need to accommodate Spanish-speakers, just to make life a hell of a lot easier.

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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And you honestly think that signing some scrap of paper declaring we speak english here matters? Seriously?

Sharon - posted on 04/27/2010

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Excuse me??? I "Need" to learn spanish?? WTF kind of bullshit is that? I speak a smattering of half a dozen languages. You know why? Because when I go to live in a foreign country I have enough respect for them to LEARN THEIR LANGUAGE.



I do not expect them to know mine.



My mother is bilingual, damn near trilingual after living here northern fucking mexico after all these years.



No one is against learning new languages but if you're going to live in the UNITED STATES you need to speak english and not count on MY goddamned motherfucking dime to pay for YOUR ignorance.

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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It really doesn't matter to me if you learn spanish or not, my point is that being bilingual is a huge bonus, in the grand scheme of things. I plan on working in healthcare, IMO if I were up against someone with the same qualifications but I am bi or tri lingual while they only speak english I am at an advantage. So be it, I like having the advantage. And I like being able to socialize and communicate effectively without communication barriers. Around the world, most people speak more than one language. Those I've met from other countries seem perplexed by our lack of foreing language education. I met a lebanese girl who spoke 4 languages, not all fluently but at least enough for conversation, and she didn't think it was anything impressive, she just though it was normal. I'm not sure why americans are so vehemently against educating themselves and opening barriers, its ridiculous. But if people want to remain isolated, disadvantaged, and ignorant so be it.

Tawny - posted on 04/27/2010

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Am I wrong on this if you go to another country you need to learn there language so it should be the same here. I will not learn spanish I took it in Highschool and got a D so I have no interest. I live in a state that has many spanish speaking people some do take the time to learn and some think you need to learn there language but in the real world they do understand english they just dont want us to know. A while back where I was working a spanish woman came in with her child she spoke spanish to her child and he in turn repeated it to me. When they left I said have a nice day and she turned around in perfect English said "you have a good day also" ..... I think they get away with it because we cater to them .... which is really sad!

La - posted on 04/27/2010

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My point is that you should learn the primary language of the country you are choosing to live in. It's pretty selfish to move to another country by choice and expect everyone to adapt to you.

La - posted on 04/27/2010

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"You still need to learn spanish. Depending on where you are, you still need to learn French, regardless of what the "official language" is, because YOU will be the one at a disadvantage if you only speak english. Plain and simple."

No, I do NOT need to learn spanish. Why do I learn spanish just so they don't have to learn english? If I moved to Central or South America I would gladly learn spanish. If I moved to Italy I would learn italian, etc. Official business and schools are all conducted in english. My ancestors came here and had to learn english... none of them said "you have to learn to speak ukranian to us." So why is it that many spanish speaking people expect us to change everything for their convenience all of a sudden?

LaCi - posted on 04/27/2010

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I think it's silly and have absolutely no idea why we need to make any language an official language. You still need to learn spanish. Depending on where you are, you still need to learn French, regardless of what the "official language" is, because YOU will be the one at a disadvantage if you only speak english. Plain and simple.

Krista - posted on 04/27/2010

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Did I ever say that the ENTIRE US was founded by English-speaking settlers.. No, I don't believe that word ever came out of my mouth. Yes, yes.. I know.. I need to clarify things better.. Well excuse me..


Your earlier statement:

The Mexicans/Spanish are coming to America, which was founded by ENGLISH-speaking men!


Dude, seriously. You stated that America was founded by English-speaking men, and now you try to cover your ass by saying that you never used the word "entire" when referring to the U.S.? That's seriously, seriously weak.

And actually, your history textbook has failed you again, hon:

Where did our Founding Fathers come from?? ENGLAND. Yeah.. And I suppose they learned a completely new language to write the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in.. Right, right..


They didn't come from England. Not all of them, anyway. If you're talking about the main seven, most of them were born in the thirteen colonies. If you're talking about ALL of the delegates, once again, the vast majority of them were born in the thirteen colonies, with four from Ireland, two in England, two in Scotland and one from the West Indies.

So no, technically the Founding Fathers didn't come from England. I'm not trying to prove or disprove your point, but if you're going to argue a particular point, having your facts straight never hurts.

Jodi - posted on 04/27/2010

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I actually totally agree that it would be ideal if everyone spoke one language in a country :) Believe me, here in Australian we have forms for 20 (or more) different languages too. But our official language is still English. But that doesn't mean everyone living here (or everyone seeking citizenship) must speak it.

Emma - posted on 04/27/2010

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@ Christina
yes the men responsible for the modern United States where English speaking that is correct

Lady - posted on 04/27/2010

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In the UK we print forms in different languages and have all forms avaliable in so many languages it would make your head spin and we're a tiny little Island compared to America with a tiny little amount of immigrants compared to you, how you could ever expect your whole vast country to only speak one language is beyond me, yes so some of the founding fathers were English, but there was also Spanish, French, Itallian and so many more. I always thought america was supposed to be a melting pot where everyone would merge to be one great cultrally diverse nation, surely trying to get everyone to just speek one language is denying them their heritage!
And yes you've completely buggered up the language anyway, so what's the point lol :-)

La - posted on 04/27/2010

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I think language would just be a small part. The available jobs and assistance programs have to limit their accessibility to illegals to make living here difficult enough that proper immigration procedures would then be the easier choice. Like I said, it's not about discriminating against immgrants...it's about encouraging them to do it the right way. Because it does drain our rescources when they are receiving free health care at hospitals, taking jobs and driving down wages that could otherwise go to citizens and legal immigrants, and having to pay for everything to be printed in numerous languages.

Jodi - posted on 04/27/2010

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Discovered by Christopher Columbus? Who was Italian, and exploring on behalf of the Spanish. That was my point. So based on the Native American origins, as well as the Spanish and French origins, why should only English be the official language? That's where I was coming from.



And based on that, should history really dictate what would work for the US today? Probably not, unless the school system commits, in some way, to teaching children a second language right through their schooling.

Sara - posted on 04/27/2010

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Laura, I guess I just don't see how making English the official language will serve any real purpose. Arizona and California (among others) already have English as their official state language, and it doesn't seem to have helped the problem.

C. - posted on 04/27/2010

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Um, am I completely missing something?? Did I ever say that the ENTIRE US was founded by English-speaking settlers.. No, I don't believe that word ever came out of my mouth. Yes, yes.. I know.. I need to clarify things better.. Well excuse me..



Where did our Founding Fathers come from?? ENGLAND. Yeah.. And I suppose they learned a completely new language to write the Constitution and Declaration of Independence in.. Right, right..

La - posted on 04/27/2010

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"I think this whole argument gets intertwined with ethnocentric attitudes and some people are really nasty and hateful about it. As an American, I don't appreciate that attitude and I think making an "official" language would only serve to divide people more, instead of uniting them. It just seems like it would give people a new justification for hating minorities."

Sara, although racism against minorities definately still does exist I don't think that the majority of people have the malicious intentions that you are eluding to. There will always be hateful ignorant people out there that will spin something in a negative way, that doesn't meant that we should avoid making any changes that could play into their twisted thought processes. Should we cater much less to illegal immigrants? Yes, because it will hopefully deter them from being here illegally so they will have incentive to immigrate here through proper channels.

Jodi - posted on 04/27/2010

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Christina, You didn't specify after the Native Americans. I just assumed that when you said you paid attention in history, etc, that your textbooks would have included that part of history. My apologies......



But even I, an Australian, know that not the entire US was founded by English speaking settlers (even outside the native Americans). Yes, that is what I studied in high school.

Emma - posted on 04/27/2010

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@ Christina
I went to school in the UK
Why if it was a British that settled first would they lie and say it was someone else ???
They would not plus the French, Dutch, and Spanish ect are all lieing too i suppose ?
A little far fetched or one hell of a conspiracy, or you could of made a honest mistake

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