Louisiana school district may require English-only valedictory addresses
cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed Jul 2 11:44:29 UTC 2008
At Princeton University commencement ceremonies, the tradition is for the salutatorian to give a speech in Latin.
It's something of a joke, of course; the graduates follow a printed text that's interspersed with cues to applaud, laugh, hiss, etc. But it's impressive for parents!
Yet so unAmerican . . . .
(And how about all those Latin mottoes of schools--maybe even of states?)
---- Original message ----
>Date: Tue, 1 Jul 2008 22:33:35 -0500
>From: Dennis Baron <debaron at ILLINOIS.EDU>
>Subject: Louisiana school district may require English-only valedictory addresses
>There's another new post on the Web of Language:
>Louisiana school district may require English-only valedictory =20
>addresses -- why not call them bye-bye speeches instead, to avoid all =20=
>After co-valedictorians Hue and Cindy Vo flavored their recent =20
>Ellender High School graduation talks with a pinch of Vietnamese, the =20=
>president of the Terrebonne Parish School Board, who wants English-=20
>only school ceremonies, proposed banning foreign languages in future =20
>some people in Terrebonne were unhappy to hear an immigrant language =20
>spoken at a high school graduation. The name Terrebonne =96 which means =
>=91good earth=92 in French =96 reflects an earlier time when French was =
>most widely-spoken language, after Choctaw and Spanish, in the =20
>multilingual Louisiana Territory. Initially there were few =20
>anglophones in Louisiana, also called Orl=E9ans, one reason many =20
>Americans were skeptical about the Louisiana Purchase. It=92s said that =
>at one point Thomas Jefferson contemplated sending 3,000 English-=20
>speaking settlers to the region to make the acquisition more palatable =20=
>to the rest of the country.
>So adamant had Louisiana=92s English-only crowd become by mid-century =20=
>that its secessionist constitution of 1861 ordered that all laws be =20
>printed in the language of the United States Constitution, forgetting =20=
>in the zeal to promote English that the federal Constitution had been =20=
>dumped when Louisiana joined the Confederacy.
>But reports of the death of Louisiana French were premature. The =20
>state constitutional convention of 1864 once again rejected proposals =20=
>to protect French, but the convention=92s opening prayers were recited =20=
>in French and English, and its proceedings were published in both =20
>languages. In addition, schools in predominantly French-speaking =20
>areas were allowed to continue using French as a language of =20
>n the other hand, that 1864 constitution also contained a provision =20
>that should sound familiar to today=92s supporters of official English, =20=
>who incorporate it in their =93defense of English=94 legislation: no =20
>public official in Louisiana could be required to speak any language =20
>other than English.
>But while the official language of Louisiana remains English, and the =20=
>most widely-spoken language in the state is Spanish, not French, the =20
>Terrebonne school board proposal for English-only graduations might =20
>actually conflict with the state=92s most recent constitution: =93The =20=
>right of the people to preserve, foster, and promote their respective =20=
>historic linguistic and cultural origins is recognized=94 (Constitution =20=
>of 1974, Art. XII, sec. iv)...
>read the rest of this story on the controversial Louisiana graduation, =20=
>which even got a notice on Fox News, on the Web of Language
>Professor of English and Linguistics
>Department of English
>University of Illinois
>608 S. Wright St.
>Urbana, IL 61801
>read the Web of Language:
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
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