English Language as Official Language
- Pages: 10
- Word count: 2377
- Category: Language
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Knowing common language is essential for communicating effectively with others. A group of people living in one place or community often speak in one language to ensure that these individuals are able to understand each other. Some countries have become distinct from other countries due to the unique language that is commonly used by its inhabitants. Some nations’ states have declared a national language in their constitution and there are others that did not, especially those countries that have inhabitants who speak different languages. The United States of America is one of the countries that did not declare an official language that is used by its citizens in communicating, but a majority of its states have declared English as their official language. Our founding fathers chose to write the Declaration of Independence in the English language and use that as their mode of communication.
The United States is a multi-lingual and multi-racial country, but most of its inhabitants use American English to communicate with each other. Official government documents and the language of instruction in most schools is English, thus, it is most a convenient if government and all of its citizens speak one language rather than being content knowing only the language that they use at home. A move has been made to declare English as the official language of the United States. The said motion is opposed by many people on the basis of its discriminatory nature considering that most inhabitants are multi-lingual.
Those who are opposing it failed to realize the benefit that this move will have on some citizens who do not have a perfect command of the English language. The said move will also benefit those immigrants who came from non-English speaking countries and are not fluent in English when they arrive in the country to start a new life. Declaring the English language as the official language of the United States of America will promote solidarity and cohesiveness to all of its citizens considering the fact that a majority of them know how to speak English despite their differences in race, customs and traditions.
The English language is widely spoken internationally, but it originated in Europe specifically in Great Britain which is the primary colonizer of America. Scholars of the modern era are using the English language as the international language superseding prior usage of Latin and French. English became the language of science. The United States of America, being a former colony of Great Britain, was primarily populated by English speaking inhabitants. When it became a world super power after World War II, it was able to continue the spread the use of the English language globally which began with the British Empire. A number of its former colonies such as the Philippines were encouraged to learn to use the language.
“In the last century, Latin was the universal language of Europe. Correspondence among the learned and indeed among merchants and men of business and the conversation of strangers and travelers, was generally carried on in that dead language. In the present century, Latin has been generally laid aside, and French has been substituted in its place, but has not yet become universally established, and, according to present appearances, it is not probable that it will. English is destined to be in the next and succeeding centuries. The reason of this is obvious, because the increasing population in America and their universal connection and correspondence with all nations will, aided by the influence of England in the world, whether great or small, force their language into general use.” (Crawford 1992, p. 32)
The United States of America being a super power can influence other countries. It was instrumental in establishing the use of the English language worldwide. Thus, it is fitting for it to declare English as its official language for use in any official capacity. Establishing English as the official language of the United States will ensure that its citizens and residents will become fluent in English. Insuring English language proficiency will also enable both citizens and residents to communicate effectively with each other as well as with visitors from other countries who are fluent in the English language. Knowing how to speak English well will give a competitive edge to an individual in the business world.
The United States has attracted immigrants from around the world. These immigrants need to adapt to the American way of life. One way of adapting or assimilating to a new country is to learn the language that is spoken by the majority of its inhabitants. This is to ensure that the displaced individual will not have a hard time settling in to his new environment and will be able to communicate with the people who do not speak his language.
A common language promotes unity and solidarity. Inhabitants who do not have a common language will have a hard time communicating with each other which may cause further misunderstanding if everyone chooses not to give in, adapt or learn a common language. Government intervention such as the declaration of English as an official language is needed to ensure that everyone knows a common language that they can use to communicate with each other. Since the English language is predominantly used by everybody in the United States, it makes more sense to declare English as the official language of the country. Declaring English as the official language of the United States does not mean that other languages spoken by some of the country’s inhabitants should be discouraged from being spoken or learned. They would still be free to speak other languages as long as everybody knows how to speak the official language. After all, knowing other languages is also beneficial especially now that travelling to other countries has become easier and affordable.
The United States of America is a country of immigrants. Its inhabitants came from different parts of the globe bringing with them their culture and tradition and their language. It is Great Britain that had colonized the country and at its founding the majority of its established citizenry had come from Great Britain. The founding fathers of the US Constitution had used the English language in drafting it which in a way made it the “unofficial” language of the country.
Others who chose to migrate had chosen to learn the language which made English more dominant in the contemporary times. Many of these immigrants may have known how to speak other languages, but discovered the need to communicate with others–especially in work and in school–using the English language. This fact had cemented the need for everyone to learn the said language. “Given the rise in ethnic diversity that the United States is currently experiencing, the fact that the country is still overwhelmingly English-dominant is commentary on just how durable the English language in the US rather than a rallying point for language restrictions.” (Del Valle 2003, p. 59)
Institutions of learning are using English as a medium of instruction. A student who is proficient in the English language has an edge over a student who does not learn how to speak it well or does not have a full grasp of it. The sons and daughters of immigrants who were not encourage by their parents to learn how to speak the English language will have learning difficulties in schools which in turn cause them to feel inferior to those who have an effective grasp of the said language. This problem will have a huge impact on the life of the said student for the reason that he may not be able to get good grades, pursue a college education which in turn will limit his employment prospect. The government’s intervention of declaring it as the official language is beneficial to everyone especially to those immigrants who came from non-English speaking countries.
The declaration of the English language as the official language of the country does not mean that the government will prohibit the students from using or mastering other languages. Only that, they have to learn how to speak the English language well to ensure a better future for them especially in the working world. “During the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s, Congress provided funding for bilingual education programs that would teach immigrant pupils in their home language while they were learning the English that all agreed they needed in order to enjoy citizenship. (Spolsky 2011, p.2)
Immigrants need to be assimilated to the country that they have chosen to be their new home. The assimilation process will not be complete if the immigrant does not choose to adapt to the culture, customs and traditions of his new country. Learning how to speak the English language is one way of assimilating to the new environment. Immigrants who are unable to speak the English language will always be at a disadvantaged considering the fact that they will not be able to communicate with others who does not speak their same language. Forcing these individuals to learn how to speak the English language will help them in the long run. They will be able to read signs and instructions that are written in English. There is no need for the government and business entities to translate instructions into other languages if the English language is declared as the official language saving millions of dollars annually. Everybody will be able to understand, read and speak English.
The majority of the population knows how to speak the English language. Making it official will not be hard considering the fact that it is easier to learn it. Those who are born in the country even from immigrant parents were able to speak it fluently.Thus, the transition is not hard, but the official declaration will provide awareness to everyone that learning how to speak, read and write English is essential. “This process of language acquisition occurs more rapidly today, certainly by the second generation because the immigrants have fewer possibilities to isolate themselves and their children from the Anglophone culture of the majority and of course they know about the advantages and essentiality of English proficiency. Bilinguals obviously have many advantages in a global economy…Another important factor to see is how much an immigrant needs skills in a second language in order to ensure economic success. An unskilled laborer on a construction site may not need to be able to communicate orally in the majority language.” (George 2003, p. 6)
Discrimination is the primary reason why there are individuals who oppose the declaration of the English language as the official language of the country. The said movement will not be discrimination if it will help promote unity of the populace. If it will help students in their learning and knowing the language means better working opportunities for everybody. Encouraging the opposite means that the government does not want its citizen to experience a better life and better working opportunities.
It means that the government is encouraging its citizens to be disunited and to limit their learning potential. “Most citizens of the United States undoubtedly remain unaware that language policy has become a politically contentious issue…At the level of policy support, the conflict between these two groups is starkly clear: pluralists favor using the state to enhance the presence and status of minority languages in the United States, while assimilationists seek state policies that will ensure the status of English as the country’s sole public language. Beyond this obvious division, however, the two groups of antagonists come to this political conflict with radically different understandings of what is at stake in the language policy debate.” (Schimdt 2000, p. 4)
Declaring the English language as the official language of the United States will cause the extinction of some minority languages. But it does not have to be the case as long as everyone is encouraged to practice these other languages. It is just that, learning how to speak the English language is compulsory. Making the English language as the official language does not mean the obliteration of the other languages spoken by its inhabitants. The declaration will only ensure that there is a common language that the country and its citizens can use to communicate with each other. This will make the communication of everyone to become easier. A country needs to be united. Declaring the English language as the official language of the United States does not need to cause strife. It is just a move to unite the country even more by letting everyone practice the same language considering the fact that a considerable number of its inhabitants were born to speak in some other language other than English.
The declaration of the English language as the official language of the United States of America will promote unity to all of its citizens. The country is known to be a melting pot of the different races who considered it home and a common language will promote solidarity to everyone as they try to pursue a common goal for the betterment of their self, their community and of the country. The declaration does not mean that its inhabitants are not free to learn or to speak other languages. It just means that the English language is the language of authority. It has no intention of discriminating since everybody is free to learn and speak other languages. The United States of America is a free country and it should remain to be so. Just as our founding fathers that chose to write the Declaration of Independence in English the rest of the United States of America can and SHOULD follow suite and proclaim English as its language of choice.
Crawford, James, “Language Loyalties: A Source Book on the Official English Controversy,” University of Chicago Press, 1992 ————————————————-
Del Valle, Sandra, “Language Rights and the Law in the United States: Finding Our Voices,” Multilingual Matters, 2003 ————————————————-
George, Birgit, “Immigrant Children in America Integration by Language Assimilation and Education,” GRIN Verlag, 2003) ————————————————-
Schimdt, Ron, “Language Policy & Identity in the US,” Temple University
Press, 2000 Spolsky, Bernard, “Does the United States Need a Language Policy?” CALdigest 2011 ————————————————-