I put Middle Earth Journal in hiatus in May of 2008 and moved to Newshoggers.
I temporarily reopened Middle Earth Journal when Newshoggers shut it's doors but I was invited to Participate at The Moderate Voice so Middle Earth Journal is once again in hiatus.

Friday, May 19, 2006

So English is our National Language

Wasn't it always? I suppose not. See wapo's "Senate Votes English as 'National Language' today." Believe it or not, while many on the more liberal end of the spectrum will decry this, I really don't have a problem with it. I do think that part of the process of cultural assimilation is to learn the language, laws and customs of your new home and make some effort to blend in. This doesn't mean that certain government forms and documents, particularly those geared towards new arrivals, shouldn't be provided in multiple languages to help with the transition. Nor do I think we should make any sort of effort to outlaw the speaking of an immigrant's native language in their homes and communities. Hell, we could all use a little more multicultural education to try to catch up with the rest of the civilized world. (See Europe, where the average high school student speaks three languages passably.) However, for conducting the day to day business of citizens interacting with their government, having a standardized platform is a good thing. And, for better or worse, Americanized "English" is our default language.

After an emotional debate fraught with symbolism, the Senate yesterday voted to make English the "national language" of the United States, declaring that no one has a right to federal communications or services in a language other than English except for those already guaranteed by law.

The measure, approved 63 to 34, directs the government to "preserve and enhance" the role of English, without altering current laws that require some government documents and services be provided in other languages. Opponents, however, said it could negate executive orders, regulations, civil service guidances and other multilingual ordinances not officially sanctioned by acts of Congress.

I don't think the real problem here is the establishment of a national language. If you want to tackle a serious issue, take a page from georgia10 at Daily KOS.

Here's a bright idea. Instead of wasting time on "symbolic" measures, why doesn't Congress do something about the millions of illiterate Americans who can't read or speak English (and no, Rep. Tancredo, I'm not talking about Mexican immigrants).

Last year, the National Assessment of Adult Literacy found that 11 million adults were nonliterate in English. Another thirty million adults were literate only at the most basic level, meaning they had only the most simple and concrete literacy skills. What's the point of a law mandating all government papers be in English when millions of Americans still can't read or comprehend the document anyway?
There's something to chew over with your morning bagel.

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