official english legislation

Mon Jun 4 20:23:53 UTC 2001

To all::

> 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
> 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
> equal opportunity in schooling.  Whether this restrictiveness is "racist"
> won't judge, but the facts of limited opportunity are enough reason to
> such decisions on some basis other than language.

While I think that some supporters of some kind of "official English" policy
have the idea of promoting "national unity" by promoting a "common"
language, I fear that Beverly is right.  I live in an area that has seen the
coming of a lot of immigrants from places as diverse as Cambodia, Eritrea,
and Ukraine, just to name a few.  I also work in a retail store while
supporting a Great Science Fiction Masterpiece Im writing the second draft
of.  One day, a year or so ago, when one of these Official English drives
was near its height, a woman from some place like Ethiopia came in and asked
for something like baby wipe cloths(the premoistened, packaged kind).  Her
English was reasonably good, but not *quite* proficient enough to exactly
tell me what she wanted, although she and I were able to come to a
conclusion in a few moments.  As soon as she had gone, *another* woman came
up and started complaining about immigrants who didn't know English, they
should be forced to learn it, blah, blah, blah.  I couldn't get into an
argument with her, for obvious reasons, but it struck me that the ignorance
of the second woman was so obvious it practically was written on the nearest
wall.  It is this sort of reaction that I fear if Offical English laws are
ever passed.  Unfortunately, there seems to be a lot of support for such
laws without understanding the long-term possible consequences, which I
think could be quite problematic, to say the least.  And my impression of
many Official English supporters is, they are far from innocent.
Anne G

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