No subject

Felton, Robert RFelton at ISA.ORG
Mon Jun 4 13:02:31 UTC 2001

It seems reasonable to me to say that - whatever it is - English is the
language of the United States; that it is a moving target does not make the
observation less true.  The declaration that the bills supporters are
"racists," "xenophobes," and so on, strikes me as a splendid example of the
degeneration our language and the critical thinking it is supposed to
support have undergone in recent years.  After all, a policy's adverse
impact upon some minority group is something much different than belief that
a specific minority is somehow inferior or antagonism toward that group.

In connection with previous instances of legal language-tampering, there are
today the examples of France and Canada, which are dismal failures, and in
the past there were strenuous efforts - equally unsuccessful - to stamp out
various languages outright in South Africa (this was at about the time of
the Boer War).

The bill, if passed, will doubtless be the cause of much perverse litigation
- reason enough, in my judgement, to oppose it.

Bob Felton

-----Original Message-----
From:   Douglas Bigham [SMTP:TlhovwI at AOL.COM]
Sent:   Sunday, June 03, 2001 3:31 PM
Subject:        Re: official english legislation

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

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