Official English is English Only

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - CommentaryWell, there are those within the U.S. government who are still trying to pass legislation to make English the “official” language of government. Now I hear them say that English should be the official language of the United States simply because it is the commonly used language in all aspects of life in this country. There is no question that English is used in everyday life—in school, in business, at home, and outside the home as well. However, there was a reason why the creators of the U.S. Constitution did not put English into this document in the first place—French was also used as a language of communication in the 18th Century and in diplomacy. English simply was the de facto language of those who had lived under the British Empire before the former American colonies had broken away.

The U.S. English Foundation, the organization pushing to make English the official language of government, tries to point out that all those states that had become part of the union had to have an enabling act required making English the “official” and “principle” language. This is in fact not true. States were required to pass an enabling act to make English a language of communication, but not necessarily the principle language of communication. In one case, the Kingdom of Hawaii, the English requirement was barely considered at all. Officially, in fact, Hawaii is a bilingual state. The two principle languages are English and Hawaiian. But English was NOT meant to be the language that had to be used only or principally in any one state. Not even in government or in a court of law.

Those who want to make English the official language are truly vexed about Puerto Rico becoming a state. What the Puerto Rican people decide is up to them. However, those who advocate for “official” English actually do not want Puerto Rico to become a state until the Puerto Rican people learn “English as their principle language.” In other words, because these advocates for official English want all Puerto Ricans to speak English and speak it only, the Puerto Rican people are therefore not good enough to be accepted into statehood (even though officially the two official languages in Puerto Rico are Spanish and English)! Despite their claim that official English does not necessarily mean anything beyond being the language of government, they want it to be much more than that. They want it to be the sole instruction of class, the sole language of business, the sole language of all state agency aid, and even for emergency services. There are reasons why English has not been made the official language of this land, and why all attempts at making it an official language have failed. Let us keep it that way.

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