official english legislation

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Sun Jun 3 21:07:07 UTC 2001

With exams and term papers to read, I'll only comment briefly now:  First,
is there any evidence that our nation is NOT united in fundamental
ways?  Immigrants continue to choose to come here, and with no intent to
disunite the country, as far as I know.  Indeed, the "loose" kind of
nationalism we have may be one of the most attractive aspects of the U.S.,
to us long-timers (gee, I'm only 3rd generation American) and to newcomers.

Secondly, yes, there is evidence that official language policies (at the
state level thus far) can lead to restrictive measures of all sorts,
including access to health and welfare, courtroom justice, and most of all,
equal opportunity in schooling.  Whether this restrictiveness is "racist" I
won't judge, but the facts of limited opportunity are enough reason to make
such decisions on some basis other than language.

More on the third point later.

At 03:31 PM 6/3/01 -0400, you wrote:
>Short of being "truly ignorant", I have some questions.  Doesn't point (2)
>of the proposal have some value and truth?
>"(2) Throughout the history of the United States, the
>common thread binding individuals of differing backgrounds has been the
>English language."
>Not that this is a bill I support (at least not in any form like this),
>but, if the point of some supporters (the non-xenophobes and non-racists)
>is that SOMETHING is needed to united our "nation" to our "national
>identity", wouldn't language be a good starting point?
>Also, is there precedent for such harsh claims against the bill?  Has this
>particular type of legislation been passed elsewhere in the world and
>shown to add to racist sentiment in that nation?  I'm not asking about
>cases where a language of some 10% or so is elevated to "officiality", or
>where a common "other" language is adopted for official purposes, but,
>cases where 70+% of the population has been speaking a language for nearly
>200 years, that language is declared as "official", and the subsequent
>effects add to the impoverishment of the
>"non-native/non-fluent/non-proficient" speakers?
>Douglas S. Bigham
>Southern Illinois University - Carbondale

Beverly Olson Flanigan         Department of Linguistics
Ohio University                     Athens, OH  45701
Ph.: (740) 593-4568              Fax: (740) 593-2967

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