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English As The Official Language In The

Us Essay, Research Paper

The question of whether or not English should be an official language has been a controversial topic since the country was founded. There are many differing opinions on this topic. There are the extremists who feel strongly for it. Then there are the average people who feel that there should be bilingual states such as those neighboring Mexico and Canada. The ACLU who is not in charge of the decision, but very influential in the outcome has chosen not to make English the official language because ?from it?s inception, the United States has been a multilingual nation.? There were as many as twenty different languages that could be heard around the time of when our fathers founded America. Suprisigly there are 329 languages in the United States.

The NEA reports that English only language deprives ?those in need of education, social services, and employment, and it must be challenged.? It does this by making these services not accessible to people of different languages. They also feel that one should preserve their culture by knowing their native tongue. In many countries such as Switzerland the citizens learn three languages: German, Italian, and French. They learn these languages when they are in grade school so that they are able to communicate with people around their country. Both education and accommodation are very costly, but personally I feel the education would be a much wiser investment for our country. From 1980 to 1990, Canada?s dual language requirement cost a minimum of $6.7 billion. Canada has a population one-tenth of the United States and spent that amount accommodating only two languages. A similar dual language policy would cost the United States more then $60 billion over 10 ten years. Depending on the exact number of languages accommodated of the total 329, these Canadian calculations take the price tag of the official multilingualism in the United States up to $10 billion per year, over $100 billion over 10 years(Annual Report of The Canadian Commissioner of Official Languages)

Making English the official language of the United States will bring more people together by providing a common means of communication. Official English unites Americans because it encourages immigrants to learn English. Alexis De Tocqueville once said, ?The tie of language is perhaps the strongest and the most durable that can unite MANKIND?(qt. From “Common Language Quotes”). Bringing people together with one language is better than creating colonies of people who cannot understand each other without interpreters. The government should actually be trying to help immigrants learn English so they can enjoy the vast benefits our society has to offer. Many people say the founding fathers chose not to have English as the official language as the United States. This is definitely not true. If that is the reason for not making it official we had better go back to such things as state legislatures choosing senators, slavery being legal, and women not being able to vote. One question people ask is ?Why didn?t the founding fathers make English the official language?? With all fifty-five delegates from the constitutional convention speaking English they just assumed English was the official language of America and did not give it much thought. They leaders of the United States never decided against making English the official language but in the 1790?s they did decide against a multilingual government. Theodore Roosevelt said, The one absolute certain way of bringing a nation to ruin, or preventing all possibility of it continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities. We have but one flag. We must also learn one language and that language is English?. Making English the official language does not mean It would make America an ?English only Movement.?(qt. “Common Language Quotes”). People would still be free to speak their own languages in their private lives. Official English would only apply to official government actions. Still there are more misconceptions about official English. Non English languages can still be taught in our society and elected officials can use other languages to communicate with constituents. Other languages can be used by government officials in emergencies or when investigating crimes. Immigrants from India, Chile, and Hungary have asked Congress to declare English as the official language. They say it promotes unity, teamwork, and respect for others. They have enjoyed the freedom and success at a small price to learn English(?Immigrants Want English as Official Language?).

Official English also empowers immigrants. They will benefit from the elevation of English to official status having several mutilingual services encourages immigrants to depend more on linguistic welfare. However not having English proficiency is a life of low skilled low paying jobs. Once immigrants learn English their income rises by about 30 percent(?Why is Official English Neccesary?). All of the studies prove this information from extensive research. Although many immigrants want to keep their traditions, customs, food, and the like so they can remember the land they came from, they still need to learn English to prevent them from the creation of a permanent economic and social underclass. They will never gain some of the advantages available to them in the United States. Without knowledge of English immigrants cannot ask for help and can not defend themselves(?Should the United States Adopt English As the Official Language?). Congress is presently working on a bill to make English our country’s official language. It will basically make English the official language of the United States and require the federal governemnt to conduct its official business in English. This bill does not mean people cannot use other languages in their private lives. The English language has integrated many new immigrants throughout history(?In Union There is Strength?) Mikhail Gorbachev once said, though representitives from many ethinic group came together in the United States, English became their common language. Apparently, this was a natural choice. One can only imagine what would have happened if memebers of each nation moving into the United States had spoken only their native tongues and refused to learn English?(qtd. From ?Common Language Quotes?). It should not be the governments responsibility to provide services in all of the languages spoken in America. Each individual needs to do that themselves. If the governement does not worry about it, then they can concentrate on ways to provide immigrants with the assistance they really need (?Why is Official English Neccesary?). While we do not share a common heritage, we do share a common future. Our future as one depends on the foundation of one common language.

Prior to researching the information for this paper I had no opinion on the subject. There seems to be two problematic issues invovled cost and loss of culture. I think Education is the key and would be in the best interest of our Nation. As far as the culture issue it would still be maintainable if English was the official language. After reading a lot of the backround information, I found there was some very strong and valid arguments on why English should be our countries offcial language. Our national motto is E pluribus unum out of many, one. Immigrants of many nationalities built our nation, but the melting pot melded us into one people. This long tradition of assimilation has always included the adoption of English as the common means of communication. Many people agree and disagree about many aspects of this problem. It may never be resolved, but it is our democracy to vote whether this policy would suppress our rights or not


1)?Common Language Quotes.? U.S. English. 26 Feb. 1999.

16 Mar. 1999http://www.us-english.org/foundation/quotes.htm de la Pena, Fernando, amd Arturo Madrid. ?Should the United States Adopt English As it?s Official Language?? CQ Researcher v.3, p.713 (1993).20

2)?Founding Fathers and Official English.? U.S. English.16 Mar. 1999.http://us-english.org/foundation/founders.htm. ?Immigrants Want English As Official Language.? Associated Press. 2 Nov.1995. 16 Mar.

3)?In Union There Is Strength: English Should Be America?s official Language.? The Italian Voice v.65, n.15,pp.

4)?The Truth about Official Language.? U.S. English. 9 Mar. 1999http://www.us-english.org/states.htm.

5)?Why is Official English Necessary?? U.S. English. 9 Mar. 1999. 16 MAR. 1999http://www.us-english.org/why.htm.