Hands off our language

2007

If you pay close enough attention to the news, especially during election cycles, you'll undoubtedly hear the arguments both for and against English being made the "official language" of the United States.

While much of the rest of the world will probably scratch its collective head at this oint and wonder what all the fuss is about, a bill proposed by a group of conservative senators is seeking to make this a workplace issue by banning the use of any language other than English at work.

Let's set aside the obvious points that these elected men forget; for example, the United States has no official language; states' attempts to designate one have been ruled unconstitutional; the original language of the land we inhabit wasn't English,not to mention the fact that the French and Spanish (!!!) were busy making headway in the "new land" as well as our forefathers. In fact, the Spanish (!!!) had more territorial possessions than the English-speakers.

While no opponent of this bill doubts the importance of speaking English on the job – especially in areas like the emergency services - a bill that prevents people of a similar background from communicating in their native language is simply mean-spirited and doesn't benefit anyone.

What happens in translation companies where foreign languages are frequently used? What happens in call centers where foreign languages are often used? What about ethnic areas where local languages are used in stores? Remember, this law applies to Italians, Poles, Russians, French, Chinese, Japanese, etc – not just Mexicans.

The fact of the matter is that this type of practice has been barred by federal law for over 30 years. There has been no valid reason to change it during that time, and there certainly isn't one now. It simply goes against everything American prides itself on – including its fabled melting pot culture.

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