April 3, 2006

Official Language Police

Dear Radio Callers Supporting English as the official language,

If you would like to make English the official language of the United States of America, I have a proposal for you. Make English the official language and then each citizen must identify which is his or her most fluent language (i.e. everyone must speak English, but some people will still have it as their second language).

If you identify “English” as your primary personal language, you will be heavily fined every time you massacre the language when you open your mouth. That includes calling in to talk radio shows and saying things like “we can’t do nuttin’” and such. You persist in using words like “supposably.” And when you incorrectly use popular idioms and commonplace words, as when you say “I am adverse to that,” it grates.

My grammar is far from perfect in my daily speech and on my weblog, but I’m pretty sure that with a brief study period I could get it up to snuff if it meant avoiding a fine. I have serious doubts about some of you xenophobes. I see a huge new source of revenue for the government and would love to see my tax burden lowered as language fines start to replace the income tax.

Maybe you ought to try speaking the language yourself before declaring it official. Just a thought.

(P.S. My position is that we should encourage the learning of English in non-English speakers and encourage the learning of a second language in English-only speakers like (sadly) myself. Buy we should not enforce contrived culturephobic exclusions by law.)

(P.P.S. This does not mean I plan to hire an editor for my blog, though I know good ones. I am still going to exercise license to use sentence fragments and such for effect. At least, until you all pass the law I suggested above.)

Posted by James at April 3, 2006 11:45 AM
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How can we have a law that says English is our official language when our president can't speak it?

Posted by: B.O.B. (bob) at April 3, 2006 12:43 PM

That's why he doesn't support English as an official language. At least, he doesn't as far as I know.

Posted by: James at April 3, 2006 12:52 PM

Yep, I'm with Bob. If the Moron in Chief mangles our "official" language every time he opens his gob, what's the point?

Posted by: Patti M. at April 3, 2006 1:11 PM

The thing that really bugs me about the "English-only" folks is the myth that when their great-grandparents came over here, the first thing they did was learn English. The idea they are promoting is that it's only a recent phenomenon that immigrants (read: hispanics) 'refuse' to learn English.

Which doesn't explain why there were so many German-language newspapers in this country up through the Depression. Or why up until relatively recently we still had French-speaking radio programmes in Rhode Island because many of the older Quebecois never learned English very well. Or the various other Italian, Jewish, Russian, etc media that has existed in this country since the mid-1800s up until relatively recently.

The fact is that there has never been a time when most immigrants to the US who *weren't* native English speakers immediately learned English.

Posted by: DG at April 3, 2006 1:16 PM

I have to say, my grandparents made a great effort to learn to speak, read, and write English when they came to this country from Italy in the late 1890s. It was a source of pride for them.

I think it is wonderful to be bilingual. Most Americans are not, and they are the poorer for it.

It is important, however, to learn the main language of the country you are in, if for no other reason than self-preservation.

To DG's point, we are all offspring of immigrants, and to say we are otherwise is to lie to ourselves about ourselves. I just love people who say "I'm Irish" or "I'm Italian."

Really? Were you born there? No? If you were born here, you are American. Don't be a dink.

Posted by: Patti M. at April 3, 2006 3:24 PM

Along the same lines as the 'Bush doesn't speak English' point, I really want to see a protester in the whole illegal immigration thing with a sign that says "The President doesn't have to follow the law. Why should we?" :)

Posted by: briwei at April 4, 2006 12:01 AM

An excellent point, Brian, that I had been wanting to articulate in a post for a little while. All this talk of not rewarding lawbreakers has me laughing.

First of all, in the context of changing the law the chant is meaningless. Secondly, what you said about the preznit.

But what's the point? Until we have an opposition party, we're all just along for the ride, really.

Posted by: James at April 4, 2006 1:13 AM

I'm appose to have pudding now.

Posted by: Tardy at April 4, 2006 8:49 AM

God, this made me laugh so hard. You guys are a riot. LOL

Posted by: Keri at April 4, 2006 11:26 PM

It's nice to see Tardy the Turtle stop in now and again.

Posted by: James at April 5, 2006 8:55 AM

That's how I feel, connecting via my dial-up connection today.

Verizon--when are you coming to my tiny town and bringing your DSL to the masses?

Posted by: Patti M. at April 5, 2006 10:10 AM

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