official english legislation

Frank Abate abatefr at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon Jun 4 00:02:16 UTC 2001

At the risk of being controversial, given the replies to this thread so far,
the following from my perspective:

1. Every court of law in the land uses English, as far as I know.  Does it
not behoove all American citizens and prospective citizens to be proficient
in English for this reason?

2. Every statute and administrative regulation in the land, as far as I
know, is published in English, at least originally.  Doesn't the same as
mentioned above apply?

3. In the US economy in general, given a predominantly English-speaking
populace (excepting certain local areas, where, in fact, knowledge of the
locally predominant language(s) is an advantage), is it not the case that
confidence in the use of English is normally an advantage to the individual?
If so, is it not best for American schools to emphasize that students be
proficient in American English?  This does not at all mean that their
linguistic and cultural roots need to be ignored or trammeled on, merely
that to know American English proficiently is in their own individual best

There are many countries in which English has been declared an official
language.  I would like others to consider reasons why this would
necessarily be a bad thing in the US, where in fact English is the
predominant language used by most citizens in their homes and daily lives,
and when proficiency in English is advantageous for nearly all others?

As a corollary, I would add that teaching elementary students in the US in a
language other than English on a long-term basis seems to me a great
disservice to those students.  It is OK as an accommodation for a brief
period, but should only be treated as such, a temporary convenience.
Proficiency in American English should be a primary goal for all students in
this country.

I cannot speak to the goals of all who propose legislation for English as an
official language in the US, but I want to go on record saying that reasons
to consider such a proposal are not necessarily borne of racism or

My two cents,

Frank Abate

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