Official English

Beverly Flanigan flanigan at OAK.CATS.OHIOU.EDU
Sun Jun 3 21:13:13 UTC 2001

As it happened, my last class in Sociolinguistics on Thursday dealt with
restrictive language policies and their effect on social polity, including
our own.  I had been forwarding the discussion on English Only legislation
to the class, and when this hypothetical "policy statement" came along I
fired it off immediately.  What serendipity!

At 09:56 AM 6/2/01 -0400, you wrote:
>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.
>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
>Office: (517)353-0740
>Fax: (517)432-2736

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list