Tuesday, April 8, 2008


There seems to be a lot of heated debate over this controversy. Many people argue in support for a law to be passed that makes English the official language of the US. But I feel that this legislation would be unnecessary and above all, biased to the many thousands of legal Americans who are not originally from America. Language has done nothing so far to threaten our unity and will continue to do nothing to do such a thing, because we clearly have far bigger current issues to deal with (noting the fact that our country is in a secession right now)
Making English our authorized language means one of many things. To name a few, several services to the public would have to be stopped. For example, telephone assistance such as 911 operators could only be available in English, making it impossible for many citizens to comprehend what they are saying(obviously). This causes an extremely hazardous situation in any type of emergency. Additionally, legislating this law would mean that voting ballots would strictly have to be in English. My grandmother, for instance, is originally from Cuba but is a legal citizen to the United States and therefore has every right to vote for whoever will be her future president. However, she does not speak a word of English. Would it be just to restrict her from voting, a privilege that one has as a US citizen, just because she cannot speak English? This type of law would be unjust, because many instances as this one will be recurring again and again, and it simply isn't fair.
Accessing a translator in hospitals for if there is an emergency to take care of will be out of the question for many minorities if English is to be used for all governmental or business-related purposes. Again, it is unjust and it may promote hazardous situations.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Just the Facts

  • 323 different languages are spoken in the United States
  • 32 million Americans speak a language other than English at home
  • Many states have already made English their official language, but none have documented that their state is more united because of this, nor is it firmly enforced
  • The U.S. is a country of immigrants
  • Health, safety, and other hazards could arise if they cannot get information in their native languages
  • Language restrictions would make it difficult for law enforcement officials to question people who sprak anything other than English
  • Having multiple languages would make our country more diplomatic and interesting
  • May cause health hazards where minorities cannot easily access health care
  • Making English the official U.S. language overlooks the importance of an individual's native language and culture
  • 94% of Americans already speak English, so legislation is unnecessary

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What the Experts Say

There are a surprisingly significant amount of political leaders and also relevent people within the government who feel that an English-Only law would be unjust. For instance, President George Bush says that, "The ability to speak English is the key to success in America. [I] support a concelt [I] call English-Plus, insisting on English proficiency but recognizing the invaluable richness that other languages and cultures being to our nation of immigrants. In Texas, the Spanish language enhances and helps define our state's history..."

A Democratic representative from Texas writes, "Through [my] experiences with Hispanics and other immigrants, I have seen how hard they work to learn English and become full participants in American society. This is also one reason [why I] oppose 'English-as-the-Official-Language' bills that are brought up in Congress." He also feels that, "Declaring English the official language of the United States would not increase the percentage of Americans who speak English. And those who do not speak English are not any less American than those of us who do." He makes a very valid point in the quote.

Robert D. King, teacher at the University of Texas at Austin and writer of linguistics, expresses his feelings towards language diversity. "Rather than fearing language diversity, Americans should celebrate their country's linguistic richness."

An editor of the NYTimes also writes that, "Legislating English as the official language... is a slap in the face to each and every [Spanish-speaking] legal immigrant and does nothing to address the 11 million problems we have." -Richard Pook

Monday, March 24, 2008

Second Strongest Argument

My second strongest argument would be the question of health and safety. Several health, safety, or other hazards may occur if a person does not receive the adequate information regarding health that they need in their own languages. Minorities or people who do not understand English would have a difficult time accessing health care or insurance as well.
For instance, if there were to be a law indicating that English must be used in all business/school/government-related occurences, how can someone who does not speak English get information from an English-speaking c0mmercial over how cigarettes negatively impacts one's health? How about insurance companies? They are businesses too; therefore, they would only be accessible to English-speaking people.
These aren't necessarily the case in all instances, however, they are examples that cause people to take into consideration the importance of having multilingualism as well as how it may affect people's health and safety. Also, there are many signs in multiple languages, such as how to perform CPR. If such signs are not legible in the nation's most common languages besides English, how are those thousands of people going to know what to do if such a situation ever occured.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Strongest Argument

While it seems like a good idea to restore order within the government by making English our official language, it will not necessarily be adequate or solve any true issues for our country. Because such a high percentage of our country already uses English as their primary language, it would serve as useless. However, because of all the immigrants in and coming to our country, it is only rational to keep it officially multilinguistic.

As a result of this, my main argument is that our nation is almost completely made up of immigrants. Think about it; people generally consider themselves a nationality other than American: Spanish, Italian, Irish, Indian, etc. Whatever the case, whether it be from even many generations ago, someone in everyone's family was an immigrant. Not very many people are native Americans, so why make English official? Yes, it may very well serve as a convenience to the government, but they have gone without such a law for all this time anyway, so it would be conclusively pointless.

Through my research, I've found that many people argue for this law with the general idea that "it will unite our country." This statement is also not necessarily true, because the percentage of English-speaking Americans will not automatically increase. If the government's true desire is for more people to learn English, then the key is to provide better programs in which they can learn conveniently, not make a law out of it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Pros and Cons

There are a variety of pros and cons that correspond to my topic. The pro side of this topic agrees to making the English language the official, or common, language of our country. The main reason, I have discovered through my research, as to why so many Americans would rather have an official language is to unite our country. Several significant political leaders argue for this issue rather than against it, for they claim that knowing how to speak English is the key to success in America. For instance, Theodore Roosevelt felt that "...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language..." Others may argue that it would simplify and expedite matters in education, government, and business, as well as ease communication and racial conflicts. Officiating a national language would encourage immigrants who do not speak it to learn, and it would bring our country together as a whole.
On the other hand, there is the con side, which is for cultural identity and supports the fact that America is a nation of immigrants. A few arguments on the con side are that by having a multilingual country, it would protect public health and public safety, promote tourism, handle emergencies, and administer justice. Having an official language would, in fact, cover up cultural identity as well as discourage immigrants whose native tongue is not English. It wouldn't necessarily increase the percentage of Americans who can speak English, and it doesn't make people who don't speak English any less American than those who do. "English-only" laws are politically incorrect and biased against immigrants. Additionally, many feel that having multiple languages spoken throughout the country makes it interesting, diplomatic, and worldly. An imperative question that one must ask themself about whether or not to make English the official language of the United States is that, isn't it better to learn and become familiar with languages other than one's own rather than know only one language your whole life? It should be recognizable that different languages and cultures bring a uniqueness to our country. This particular controversy is simply a heated topic discussed within the government, however, it does nothing to solve the real conflicts that go on within our country.
I chose to be part of the con side to this issue because I believe that everyone has the right to their own language. America, whether or not one wants to believe it, is a nation made up of immigrants. Those immigrants bring with them their customs and traditions, as well as their cultures and languages. Making English the official language of the US would be discouraging of learning to speak other languages, and upsetting to those whose native language is not English.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Topic Overview

My research paper is about whether or not to make English the official language of the United States. The reason I picked this particular topic is because I thought it would be interesting to reveal how I, and many others, feel about this subject and get a general idea of what peoples' opinions across the nation and in the government are. Many times I have heard people complaining about hearing strangers speaking in a foreign tongue, and most of the time, the response to this complaint is that "there is no official language in the united states". This is technically true, although several states have made it their official language already. But one cannot deny that English is the language spoken the most throughout the US and it is the language that most schools throughout the country use, as well as most television programs, office buildings, etc. However, our country is a nation of immigrants. It is a melting pot of all different languages and cultures. Consequently, one would think that it is only fair not to have an "official" language.
The controversy presented within the topic is just what was previously explained and that the government cannot ultimately decide whether or not to make it the country's official language. There are many citizens, roughly 86%, who are in favor of making it official. The reason to this decision is that it is requisite for all citizens to speak and understand english to live successfully in this country and to the fullest extent. Another reason for this is because of conflicts within the government having to, for example, print bills in several different languages because there is a large percentage of citizens who do not speak, understand, or even read in English. Having to do this is conflicting, so the government wants to provide programs and encourage the learning of English to all citizens, especially those who do not speak the language.
The main question I am presenting in my research paper is "Should English be the official language of the US?" Many different people have different opinions. Personally, I don't think it should be, because of the fact that our country is made up of immigrants and they bring with them unique cultures and traditions that I think are vital in our country. Having an official language is unjust and conflicts with the first Amendment, because everyone residing in the US has the right to speak in whatever language that they desire.