What the heck is an "official" language?

Harold Schiffman hfsclpp at gmail.com
Sat Jun 23 17:49:34 UTC 2007

What the Heck Is an Official

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
an article
by Phyllis Schlafly<http://www.eagleforum.org/column/2007/june07/07-06-20.html>and
to a report that Carpentersville has passed
a symbolic resolution to make English its official
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.

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