Lawren Jones

This conversation is closed.

Should English be made the official language of the United States

I have no opinion, or any particular understanding, either for or against this subject, and would appreciate hearing a lively debate. Thank you.

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    Jul 27 2012: The word "official" means that I would need to know English to actively participate in any official function. My tax forms would be ONLY in English, as would the driver's test; the public transportation schedules; the road signs; the web sites, and voice recordings for all government offices; etc. That sounds reasonable to me, so I vote "Yes", American English should be the official language of the U.S.A. Viva La Ingles!
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    Jul 27 2012: Why would we give any nation further tools to club each other with?. Canada is a bilingual nation, 2 of my five are fluent and often work in that other language. I love the diversity. I think it is evident that brains and minds stay limber and alert when they can understand more of humanity. Why would we limit that exercise?
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      Jul 27 2012: The French Canadians do not have bilingual signs or even menus. They are so dedicated to being french that in 2006 the House of Commons of Canada passed a symbolic motion proclaiming Quebecois as a nation within a united Canada.

      The USA is certainly multi lingual as it is a melting pot of nationalities that enter the USA in traditional form and seek citizenship under federal programs. But to offer signs, forms, scheduals, etc ... in all of these languages would not be reasonable.

      Just a question how many languages are you fluent in.

      Bye for now. Bob.
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        Jul 28 2012: While I truly love you both, I also love being Canadian and I come from a French Canadian family on my mother's side. So that is half English Canadian and half French Canadian so perhaps you came to the right girl with your questions.
        We certainly do not have everything figured out, we came within a hairs breadth of splitting up a few years ag. There has been serious controversy but in my position in Canada there are only about 5 of me and one is a French Canadian and two others speak both languages to deal with their areas. I do not need to speak our OTHER official language but I can speak and certainly read but I do not classify myself as fluent although it is a life goal.
        French Canadians are a minority who believe that they are fighting for their identity among all the peoples of North America. The British North America Act accorded recognition of their culture and language and their status was guarenteed to them when they voluntarily joined our nation as one of the original founders in 1867. They enrich us at every turn and we are more and not less with them among us. Across Canada we have French speaking pockets of people who enrich our culture and who deserve essential services in a language that they speak at home. You can do whatever you like but in Canada we love to acknowledge those who made us who we are and we love to say "Bien venue au Canada: with our whole hearts and we accept immigrants from myriad French speaking nations.
        You are multilingual and we accept immigrants from around the world too and are highly, maybe more highly rated by international bodies for healthy longevity and hopefully tolerance. The Ukraianian language was revitalized by Canadian input because we have so many immigrants. They are not considered an official language but a very welcome one among many others. As to being official it is because both French and English were founders. What happened to the French who explored most of your territory - il sont disparaîts, n'est pas
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      Jul 27 2012: If Canada had adopted an official language from the outset would you not have your extensive liguistic experience today? I don't think an official language precludes the learning and use of other languages. Tell me (in English please) how not having an official national language promotes language diversity. Hasta la wedersein- Ed :-D
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        Jul 28 2012: Edward. we are waaaaaaaaaay ahead of that thought as we have TWO official languages.
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          Jul 28 2012: I never thought of that possibility. Isn't that like having two flags, or two national birds? From your argument above I thought you were opposed to official languages because they discourage liguistic diversity. As usual I am confused.
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        Jul 28 2012: No, I do not feel that is confusing for those of us who really wish to understand. We have only had our own flag in my lifetime. As a child I literally sang "God save our gracious queen" even though most of us have never seen a real monarch and most of us feel that democratic principles make sense and that heriditary ideas are mostly bogus.
        My opinion is (in case,as is quite possible even likely since these damned clots - I was not comprehesible) that Canada is enriched and edified by having the ability to speak two official languages. We can speak with more of humanity and understand more diverse ways of thinking. In fact, I sometimes try to understand "teaparty" which is the wonkiest language I ever heard except maybe ranting Republican!!!!!!! Love ya!
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    Aug 9 2012: Are our ideals bound to a specific language? Doesn't liberty mean the same thing in spanish as it does in english? What I mean is that it's not the language we need to protect, but rather our ideals.

    These ideals are put forth to new citizens in the congratulatory letter they receive once they become citizens. You can read this letter here: http://hubski.com/pub?id=37412

    I think it's the people born in the US that should have to read this letter. The immigrants seem to better embody our nations core values than most of it's 2nd, 3rd and 4th generation citizens.

    So my vote is "no" on the "official language".

    Also, english isn't going anywhere any time soon.
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    Jul 29 2012: Making English the official language of the United States would destroy the principles the country was founded on. An American can be anyone. They can be from any background, belief, country, ethnicity, etc. Making English the official language would take away that freedom. The only definition of an American should be a person who loves freedom and has the will to seek it.
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    Jul 27 2012: Yep. Our immigrants of the past made it a point to learn and teach their children the English language. The old when in Rome thing. This was very important to them to speak English to show they were "Americans". As a world traveler and former military member I can assure you that very few places on earth have multiple signs for various languages. It does not happen in Mexico nor in French Canada (sorry Debra, but true) our neighbors. The US is one of the few countries in the world that makes this effort. I think it is expensive and unnecessary. The only people who make this a demand are the Mexicans, every one else accepts and makes amends as we do when we travel.
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      Aug 9 2012: A couple of things, Robert.

      (1) Hawaii also has a bilingual culture, and it's Japanese / English instead of Spanish / English.
      (2) Of those hoping to see more Spanish available in public use in the United States, the Mexicans are a large portion but, by far not the only ones (e.g. El Salvador, Columbia). In fact, one could argue that our territory of Puerto Rico would have to surrender it's entire linguistic culture if the U.S. adopted an English-only position.
      (3) I also am a world traveler, and I have been plenty of places, where multiple languages are supported in public (e.g. Ireland, Finland, India, China)

      In summary, I believe that although some money may be saved by declaring an official language, the true motivations of those advocating such a move have less to do with cost-savings than with nationalistic pride and a desire to exclude "outsiders."
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    Jul 27 2012: There is a lot to be said for a provincial language and culture. Since communication is the cornerstone of life, the more we understand each other the better. This is not the case with a bilingual situation. The reality is that it is not going to happen. On the other hand hearing different perspectives is one of my favorites, which is one of the things I like about TED.
  • Aug 2 2012: Si
  • Jul 29 2012: Went to an international convention that many non-english speakers attended. Not all, but many of the people who made a point to learn english told me, after I asked, that English is very precise, which i think was meant to mean "had less lexical gaps" than their own tongue. My Spanish speaking relatives tell me this when I bring them to english sermons they've already heard in Spanish. National and ethnic sympathies aside, English seems better for discussing abstracts and complex issues with, in the United States. But hey, Portugese is a better language to discuss love with. As long as a language fosters differentiation between similar concepts and avoids the Orwellian fusion of different ones into single words, then we should have bias in favor of those languages, Chinese, Swedish, Spanish-whichever is most efficient.
  • Jul 28 2012: From the view of a student major in physics , the answer is absolutely yes . Most of valuable science literature is published in English as well as the most infulential textbooks . I am from China who has the largest population and the condition is almost everyone with high education can speak English as a second language. And there are millions of people are learning to speak English in China. Not to mention the use of English in business .
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    Jul 27 2012: I thought it is already.....
    How little I know !!!
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    Jul 27 2012: How do all
    My thought is no it shouldn't but I think since we are here they should make the native languages the offical langue of the US.
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    Jul 26 2012: Michio Kaku, a physicist, believes that the entire Earth will have English as it's official language. This idea is based on the way physicist's rate civilizations based on their economies. So there's type 1, 2 and 3. I won't go into them in detail but Earth may eventually be a type 1 economy where the entire world does business together and these people all speak English to each other and then their own languages for their own respective countries etc. Then type 2 is interplanetary economy where there's one language which representatives from multiple planets use to do trade etc etc.
    So nothing to do with the US but worth noting.