Should English be made the National Language of the United States?

@filmbuff (2909)
United States
May 10, 2007 2:28am CST
There has been a growing debate in America about making English the National Language of the United States for quite some time. And there does seems to be many people with varied views on both sides of the issue. The People for it often argue that is would save a lot of money for the government and by extension the citizens who pay taxes to fund interpreters and print legal documents in different languages. On the other side of the fence, the people against it often state that it is unfair to immagrents who don't speak English, and that they would be left out of society and not have the same oppertunities as those who speak English fluently. To be honest, I'm not sure where I stand on this issue. I'm hoping that with your thoughts and views I'll be able to make an honest and informed decision. What do you think, should Enlish be the national launguage? Why or why not?
3 people like this
9 responses
@wolves69 (756)
• United States
10 May 07
At one time, there was talk of letting German become an official language since many of the immigrants at the time (1830) were Bavarian. The movement didn't last long and you can barely find any reference in the books. I do believe English should be made the official language of the government. Then if States want to supplement the language, so be it. This would prevent frivolous lawsuits such as the Mexican kids getting electrocuted when they climbed into an electrical house with English posted warning signs. This occurred in Az in the early 80s. Their parents sued on the basis they couldn't read the signs. Similar incidents happened in the Northern States dealing with house leases (one of the reasons Hazleton, PA enacted some stringent immigration laws). Fortunately, nobody lost their lives... A few years ago, there was a lawsuit against the Gov't Printing Office because they didn't offer their publications in some obscure dialect. The gov't won that case based on an old trade law. I wish I still had the article. Even in my own family, who came over from Poland wanted all their kids to share a common culture and all of the Great Grandparents forced the kids to only speak English and learn it. Why? Just so there would be a common bond and to be more accepted. Language is one of the things that binds a country together. Quite frankly, I wouldn't care which language the government picked...just pick one (yes, that would mean I would have to relearn a language but thats the rule of the land).
4 people like this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
10 May 07
Thanks for the intelligent and well thought out reply wolves69. You bring up some pretty good issues, such as the lawsuit that was filed in AZ, I seem to vaguely remember that as well as other similar lawsuits of the same nature. Do you think that making English the national language would make it harder on non-english speaking immigrants that come here?
2 people like this
@wolves69 (756)
• United States
12 May 07
Hmmm, Quite frankly, it doesn't matter. They are coming to a new country and why would they expect to have it easy? They are coming by choice and have the opportunity to meld into the current culture. Oh, I agree one shouldn't get rid of their culture completely, but one has to understand when to belong, and when to remember their roots. If the US is a melting pot, and so many other cultures learned the language for the last 200 years, why is there such an uproar with Mexican's learning English? When I go abroad, many countries expect that I learn a little of their language and not force "my" language on them.
2 people like this
@kyle930 (764)
• United States
10 May 07
English should absolutely be the language of the united states. If we write everything in spanish it is only helping illegal immigrants who we should be preventing from entering the country anyways.
3 people like this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
11 May 07
That is a very good point about helping the illegals if we print things in other languages than English, thanks for bringing it up kyle930. While there are probably more mexicans crossing our borders than from any other country, to be fair there a illegals coming here from all over the world on visas. The visas expire and they stay, so this isn't just an issue about mexicans and spanish.
2 people like this
@Erilyn (3020)
• United States
11 May 07
I think English should be the offical language. There are people who come to this country for want of a better life, why shouldn't they have to learn the language? A lot of countries are requiring students to learn English because English is one of the most widely used languages. We are about to spend billions of dollars to put 700 miles of fence on a 2000 mile border.(How this is going to help I have no idea but ok.) What better way to get the message across then to stop coddling people and making it easier on them to be here? That money (which in my opinion is going to waste) could be better used to help people here in our country. Instead of wasting the money printing things in both English and Spanish put it to some good use. A few years ago I was doing collections on credit cards. The man I was trying to get a hold of spoke no English and handed the phone to his son. After going in circles trying to get the permission to speak to the son (so i didn't violate any laws) the son told me that his father couldn't owe any money because he didn't understand the application when he applied for it because it was in english. He then proceded to tell me that his father had been in the country for 20 years. Then he told me not to call or contact them again and hung up. My popou came here from Greece. while in the home he would use Greek a lot of times but he didn't want any of us to speak Greek to him. He spoke fluent english, and would get angry when people would come into his store that couldn't speak english. The whole debate is silly in my opinion. There really shouldn't be any debate on it, it should be taken as a given. It would be like me going to Japan and trying to get them to change the national language to English to make me feel better. I would never go to another country and expect them to cater to me. If I couldn't speak the language at least enough to get by I wouldn't go. Sorry for the little rant there filmbuff.
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
11 May 07
The fence is one of the most boneheaded decisions this administration has made, and that's no an easy task. The last I heard it was going to cost something like 63 billion dollars to erect 700 miles of fence along what a 2300 mile border?!? Logic... anyone, anyone, hello? Even if we did string a fence all the way across the border you can get over, under or through it in less than 5 minutes. It's just moronic. I've noticed how some of the immagrants work the system like the one you mentioned when you were working in collections. It's amazing how many of these people either speak, read, or understand English when it is convient for them to do so. And how when it's in their best interests to not understand, they don't. You raise a very valid point in that if we went to say Japan, we would be expected to learn Japanese, and not force them to speak English. That is a very good argument and I think I'm starting to sway over onto your side of the fence. Do not apologize at all Erilyn, I liked your rant. Thanks so much for posting.
2 people like this
@Erilyn (3020)
• United States
11 May 07
Thank you filmbuff. There is so much about the whole thing that gets under my skin. I fell out when I heard about the fence. What the point of even building it? And the other question would be how many people building it would be illegals the contractors have hired? Everything has just become too "PC" for my taste anymore. If people want the best oppertunities in whatever country they live in they should know the language. They leave their country to have a better life here I don't think it is too much to ask that they learn the language. If they don't like it, don't come here.
1 person likes this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
11 May 07
What you're saying makes a lot of sense. The Fence issue has me a little peeved myself. You just know that those contracts are going to be outsourced to "friends" of the administration, who like you said will have illegals build it like they did in San Diego, or San Fransico. (I can't remember which and I'm too lazy to look at a map right now)
1 person likes this
@ladyluna (7004)
• United States
10 May 07
Hello Filmbuff, Yes, English should be made the official language of the land. Aside from the enourmous savings to the taxpayer, adhering to the principle of learning a language by immersion will benefit all who immigrate here. There is no question that the best way to learn a new language is by being immersed into the language. That's not just my opinion. Linguistics experts agree - sink of swim is the most efficient, fastest way to learn a new language. Of course, I support a safety net ... which is a translation dictionary. If I emigrate to another country, I know that if I want to be eligible for the greatest opportunities in that new land, that I'd darned well better learn and become proficient in that language. Practice, practice, practice ... or be left behind. The U.S. policy to coddle it's immigrants, providing a means to not learn the language, is distinctly unfair to the immigrants. And, it greatly underestimates their abilities. The policy is flawed on so many levels, and cannot be repaired until the Congress has declared an official language.
2 people like this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
11 May 07
Hi Ladyluna! There is no question that having an official language would save us all a lot of money. I do also think that the learning and sharing of one language would indeed be very unifing. I wonder though if from practical standpoint if this type of legislation is even necessary. Statistics show that far and away most immigrant familes will be speaking English as their primary language by their third generation here. Your right though, we do coddle immagrants far too much.
2 people like this
@wolves69 (756)
• United States
12 May 07
It takes three generations? Why is this so? My family was literate on the first generation after immigrating to the US (speaking, and basic writing). They were fully proficient at the second (reading/writing). I won't buy the idea that they were poor. My ancestors were coal miners, and breaker boys...not much lower then that.
1 person likes this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
13 May 07
The breakdown goes something like this: 1st Generation: May or may not learn english at, or just enough to get by. 2nd Generation: Usually learns both languages as they are taught English in school, and speak their parents language at home. 3rd Generation: Speaks English at home and if they even know it, speaks their grandparents langauge when dealing with the 1st generation of people to come here who may not speak English at all for very limitedly.
1 person likes this
@lkbooi (16102)
• Malaysia
14 May 07
English nowadays is widely use all over the world especially in the former British colonized countries. China with its vast population is encouraging its people to learn English so as to communicate better with the outer world. So we can imagine how big the population of English users is. India the second greatest populated country is using English as its national language even though they are very few English men there. In my personal view I think India can make it why not America?
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
14 May 07
I had no idea that English was the nation language of India! Thanks so much for pointing that out lkbooi. Do think the fact that India was colonized (read invaded) and ruled by England so long had anything to do with that? That is indeed a very good point, if India can do it, why shouldn't we?
1 person likes this
@speakeasy (4215)
• United States
12 May 07
English should be the "official" language of the US. Most of the citizens of America speak English. Arizona has already passed a law to make English the official state language. Having things in other languages only encourages immigrants NOT to learn English. After all, why should they learn English if everyone translates for them and things have to be in more than one language to "accommodate" them. If I go to a foreign country, even for a visit, I had better take a xxxxxxx to English dictionary to help me find the right words or hire an interpreter; because, they AREN"T going to give me a copy of everything in English. The sooner immigrants (both legal and illegal) learn English; the sooner they will fit in with the rest of the American people and society.
2 people like this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
14 May 07
You bring some excellent points. Okay, it's official I think that English should be the National Language. (sigh) Time for me to start firing off emails to elected representatives.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 May 07
It would be nice if English was the national language of the USA. It is suppose to be. But, with all the immagrents that speak Spanish mostly, it isn't. In all the other countries, one must learn to speak their language. But in the USA, they don't. The constitution is very antiquated in many ways, and needs to be updated. But with our governement, that won't happen either.
1 person likes this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
12 May 07
I'm starting to agree with your views as this discussion moves forward. The more I learn and the more issues that are brought the more I see how beneficial it would for us as a nation to have one single, uniting language. Thanks so much for sharing your views margieanneart.
• United States
14 May 07
Another point is that the states offers everything in two languages, so there is no reason for people to learn English.
1 person likes this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
14 May 07
In terms of the budget and general savings of tax payer dollars there is no question it would be better if we had one language. However, if you see the posts above, most non-english speaking families will be by the 3rd generation here.
@bam001 (941)
• United States
30 May 07
English should ABSOLUTELY be made the national language for the United States of America. I understand that tourists from other countries might not speak English and/or might need help translating, but I think that all immigrants should be required to learn and use English. I find it to be rude (and it really does get me steamed) when I am at the mall and someone from another country (who lives in the U.S. and works here) starts speaking to whoever they are with in a foreign language. I think that if you are going to live in the U.S. then you need to learn to speak English fluently. I know that people will still have accents, but I think that using English properly should be a requirement for living and working in the U.S. Additionally, it seems that more and more people are coming to our country and never learning English, instead they choose to "hang on to" their native tongue. Since they don't learn English (and don't speak it in their homes), it seems that they require a translator. Side note: when doing some research for a graduate program, I was appalled to learn that in some cities, United States public school teachers were encouraged to be bilingual so that they could communicate with their non-English speaking students. Now, if someone is going to come to the U.S., bring their children (or even have children after arriving), they should have the courtesy to learn English and make sure that the children are taught English. Right now, many government offices have to print forms in languages other than English and provide translators for non-English speakers. If I were to decide to live in another country, I can guarantee you that the other country's government would NOT make sure that I had all materials that I might need to read printed in English. Would I expect a translator? NO! I seriously doubt that I would be provided one in most cases. The national language debate gets me riled. From the original post, the idea that a National Language would be unfair to those who don't speak English is absurd...why should it be fair? It isn't fair that I work everyday and pay taxes so that others can sit at home when they are perfectly healthy. It isn't fair that tax dollars are spend to print government forms in languages other than English. I could keep going, but my blood pressure is steadily rising.
@kyle930 (764)
• United States
29 May 07
English should definitely be the official language of the united states and immigrants should be required to speak it if they want to come to this country. Schools should not have to waste taxpayers money on teachin english as a second language classes.
1 person likes this
@filmbuff (2909)
• United States
30 May 07
I think I'm in agreement with you now. Besides what schools pay, think of the costs of all the legal documents that have to be printed in several languages. It doesn't make much finnancial sense. Thanks for commenting kyle930.