Argument: Official English unites Americans around a common language

Issue Report: English as US official language


US English, a US advocacy organization. “Why is official English necessary?”: “Official English unites Americans, who speak more than 322 languages (2000, U.S. Census), by providing a common means of communication. […] Official English promotes unity. Our national motto is E pluribus unum-out of many, one. Immigrants of many nationalities built our nation, but the “melting pot” melded us into one people. This long tradition of assimilation has always included the adoption of English as the common means of communication. Unfortunately, the proliferation of multilingual government sends the opposite message to non-English speakers: it is not necessary to learn English because the government will accommodate them in other languages. A study published by the U.S. Department of Labor found that immigrants are slower to learn English when they receive a lot of native language support. (Monthly Labor Review, December 1992.) Thus, multilingual government services actually encourage the growth of linguistic enclaves. This division of the United States into separate language groups contributes to racial and ethnic conflicts. Designating English as the official language will help reverse this harmful process.”

In 2007, The Idaho Senate has voted 20-15 in favor of SB 1172, declaring English to be the official language of the state of Idaho. Sen. Mel Richardson, R-Idaho Falls, lead sponsor of the bill, told the Senate: “It’s not for shutting people out, but bringing people in. When we speak a common language we are unified.”[1]

Steve Lonegan, mayor of Bogota, a small town in New Jersey, called for a boycott of McDonald’s restaurants because the fast-food company displayed a billboard advertising a new iced coffee drink in Spanish. Lonegan said the ad was “offensive” and “divisive” because it sends a message that Hispanic immigrants do not need to learn English. “The true things that bind us together as neighbors and community are our belief in the American flag and our common language,” Lonegan said. “And when McDonald’s sends a different message, that we’re going to be different now, that causes resentment.”[2]