Argument: American unity never rested on unity of language

Issue Report: English as US official language


Linguistic Society of America Resolution on English Only. July 1, 1987: “American unity has never rested primarily on unity of language, but rather on common political and social ideals.”

Kathleen McDade. Should English Be the Official Language of the United States of America?Associated Content. January 18th, 2008: “The idea is that if everyone speaks the same language, it facilitates melting-pot style assimilation. If we provide government services and paperwork in other languages, there’s no incentive to learn English. If people don’t learn English, they develop their own cultural enclaves instead of assimilating. If they develop cultural enclaves, we get racial and ethnic conflicts! Making English the official language is supposed to prevent this.

I have a problem with expecting everyone to assimilate into one culture. Cultural backgrounds are part of who we are. Why should we not promote and celebrate them – even to the point of forming enclaves? As long as people are willing to respect the laws of the land, I don’t see a problem with this. And I don’t know of any language-based racial and ethnic conflicts that have taken place in the U.S.”

“Is the primacy of the English endangered?” “3) Would official English laws promote national unity? No. Switzerland has three “official” languages and is a model of national unity, while Spain suffered three year bloody civil war when it had one “official” language. Social unity can only exist based on respect for people of different languages and cultures and not the repression of them. Language diversity does not cause social disunity. Similarly, monolingualism does not guarantee social unity.”