Language Bill

Andre Cramblit andrekar at NCIDC.ORG
Thu Jun 1 04:10:39 UTC 2006

Drop language bill 

We should have pride in our country and in the things that make us  
Americans, including our common language. But America has never been  
a country in which only English has been spoken, so it’s with regret  
that the Senate passed a bill earlier this month proclaiming English  
the national language.

The Senate measure, which was approved 63 to 34, wants to “preserve  
and enhance” the role of English by restricting federal  
communications or services to English without altering current laws  
that require some documents and services in other languages.

We don’t need a language law, though, for a few good reasons.

For one, English is the predominant language in the United States,  
and nothing in more than 200 years of nationhood has threatened its  
unofficial status. Up until the 1980s, few even thought about the  
need for a national language declaration.

The proposal, if it becomes law, also is an affront to this  
country’s diversity.

Many Native Americans still speak their native languages. They are  
proud of their languages, as they should be, and it doesn’t make  
someone less of an American if they do not speak English.

But the simple fact of the matter is that most people naturally will  
assimilate and lose their native language, and if not them, their  
children. Again, that’s something that has been happening throughout  
our history and is happening right now at a rate greater than ever.

But English-only supporters raise unfounded fears that somehow things  
are different today and English will be squeezed out of existence. It  
won’t, even given the diverse world we live in. Just because the  
merchandise signs at Lowe’s are in English and Spanish and product  
assembly instructions are printed in four or five languages, it does  
not mean suddenly the Senate will become bilingual.

And lastly, opponents to the national language bill are correct — if  
made law, the Senate’s bill could eventually negate executive  
orders, regulations, civil service guidances and other multilingual  
ordinances not officially sanctioned by acts of Congress.

We are and have been a big country, big enough to accommodate many  
people with many ideas and languages. Their presence doesn’t affect  
the status of English — it never has — but the Senate’s national  
language bill does make us look small-minded.

Originally published May 31, 2006
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Endangered-languages-l mailing list