FW: What the heck is an "official" language?

Don Osborn dzo at bisharat.net
Sun Jun 24 16:58:17 UTC 2007


[Sorry, an incomplete version was accidentally sent prior rto this]

 

This question is spot on. One gets the impression that it is felt to be the
ultimate legal tool to a particular end. I'm very interested how this
concept entered the discourse, over 2 centuries after founding of the
republic, at a time when English is globally in ascendance. 

 

Unfortunately there is not much that is readily available to the public that
clarifies the issue. The article in Wikipedia at
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Official_language , for instance, could use
more work. Related terms such as "national language" are equally obscure
(the Wikipedia article at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_language is
even more problematic). 

 

Some scholars look down on Wikipedia, but it is commonly used and a good
(and easy) place in which to improve the kind of info available to the
public on such hot topics. (Please take this as an invitation to contribute
& improve).

 

The specific proposal in the USwon't be clarified by improvements in what is
in Wikipedia or elsewhere on the web, but if we're lucky it might encourage
some critical thinking about the topic.

 

Don

 

 

From: owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu
[mailto:owner-lgpolicy-list at ccat.sas.upenn.edu] On Behalf Of Harold
Schiffman
Sent: Saturday, June 23, 2007 1:50 PM
To: lp
Subject: What the heck is an "official" language?

 


 
<http://www.windypundit.com/archives/2007/06/what_the_heck_is_an_official_l.
html> What the Heck Is an Official Language?


Mark Draughn

I don't understand what the issue is when people talk about making English
the official language.It was one of the questions at the presidential
debates of both parties. Closer to home, Fran Eaton at Illinois Review links
<http://illinoisreview.typepad.com/illinoisreview/2007/06/americans-want-.ht
ml>  approvingly to an article by
<http://www.eagleforum.org/column/2007/june07/07-06-20.html>  Phyllis
Schlafly and to a report that Carpentersville has passed
<http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/couriernews/news/437642,3_1_EL21_A1CVILL
E_S1.article>  a symbolic resolution to make English its official language,
commenting that "it should also be the state and nation's policy, as well." 

What the heck does that mean? Talk about making English the official
language is pointless without discussing the details of what exactly it
means to have an official language. Do supporters of English as the official
language really want the United States Congress to pass a symbolic
resolution? That would be pretty shallow. I assume supporters have something
more specific in mind, as must opponents, but neither side ever spells out
the details. Do the supporters just want to make sure that English is
considered necessary and sufficient for legal purposes? Do they object to
non-English signs in government offices? At airports? In supermarkets? What
about "E Pluribus Unum" on the back of our money? Is that just caving in to
the Latin Lobby? 

Is it just me? Am I the only one who doesn't know what "official language"
means? Or is it just feel-good legislation for the anti-immigrant crowd.

http://www.windypundit.com/archives/2007/06/what_the_heck_is_an_official_l.h
tml

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