Official English

Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Sat Jun 2 13:56:25 UTC 2001


Colleagues,

I'm sure English Plus or some other organziation has such a statement
as the following, but since we were embroiled in tsk-tsking the
linguistically xenophobic, I thought i would just pretend that I was
asked to outlien the official US language policy. (I klnow there have
been lots of similar proclamations form LSA, TESOL, etc..., but they
have often been reactive to a particular "crisis," and I was trying
to think a little more broadly. I was particualrly interested in
"embedding" (without debilitating explanation) the linguistic
sophistication we have (both general and more specifically
sociolinguistic).

At least it gave me  a little something to do before the
administrative routines of the day take over.

dInIs


The Official Language Policy of the United States of America

1) Recognizing the diversity of languages, which ranges from those of
the original inhabitants and the earliest immigrants through the most
recent newcomers, the United States will make every effort to
maintain, regain, broaden, and promote the acquisition of abilities
in this range of languages and even others not represented in its own
borders. In doing so it recognizes the intensity of the cultural and
personal associations groups and individuals have with their
respective languages, an association which has never prevented any
from becoming both loyal and contributing US citizens. It also
recognizes the economic and social utility of having within it sown
borders large numbers of fluent speakers of the world's languages, an
opportunity which presents itself to our country as perhaps no other.

2) Recognizing the importance of English as a common medium of
communication, the United States will also make every effort to
maintain, regain, broaden, and promote the acquisition of abilities
in English, recognizing, as well, that this goal is in no way at odds
with that set forth in 1) above since multilingualism is not only a
norm for the peoples of the world but, considering the cultural and
social values of multilingualism, also an obviously desirable one.

3) Recognizing that some varieties of languages are more common to
education, courts, scientific work, and written documents in
particular in many areas of social endeavor, the United States will
make every effort to maintain, regain, broaden, and promote the
acquisition of abilities in these varieties, particularly, although
not uniquely, through programs of instruction in its public schools.
Such more public varieties of language are set before learners as
additional ones, those which asset their communication skills in
wider environments. These more widely-used varieties are not meant to
replace local varieties, which have many of the same values suggested
for other languages in 1) above, nor are they to be offered to
learners as more beautiful, logical, or grammatically systematic ones.
--
Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston at pilot.msu.edu
Office: (517)353-0740
Fax: (517)432-2736
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