Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Should English be America’s official language?

58 countries have English as their official language. 18 of them are in Africa, and one of those countries is Barack Obama’s birthplace, Kenya. (That’s Barack Obama SENIOR, not our 44th president.)

There are only 7 countries that do not have an official language. Two of them are America and England.
English has become the world's lingua franca, or second language, but it is not the 'official' language of its birthplaceThe de facto official language of the United Kingdom is English, which is spoken by approximately 59.8 million residents, or 98% of the population, over the age of three. An estimated 700,000 people speak Welsh in the UK, an official language in Wales, and the only de jure official language in any part of the UK. Approximately 1.5 million people in the UK speak Scots—although there is debate as to whether this is a distinct language, or a variety of English.

In America, the Founding Fathers didn't see a need to have an official language. English was pretty much the dominant language of the United States at the time so there really wasn't a need to protect it, and they didn't want to offend their fellow Americans who helped fight for independence.

People in this country have been speaking languages other than English since before the founding of the republic. In fact, common languages spoken throughout the 13 colonies included Dutch, French and German, not to mention the many languages spoken by Native Americans (roughly 300). In the early part of the 18th century, there were at least 18  languages spoken in New York City.

In June of this year, a New York lawyer berated staff members of a restaurant for speaking Spanish to customers. He also threatened to call ICE because he assumed they were undocumented. By threatening to call ICE, he equated speaking Spanish with illegal immigration.

Although the United States, as a country, does not make English the official language the majority of the states in our country do. At last count, there were 31 states that did exactly that.

Folks living in other countries are often REQUIRED to learn at least one other  language. The people living in Switzerland need to be able to speak FIVE languages by the time they graduate from college. Since we live in a town that is only 60 miles from Mexico, many of the employees at local stores can easily switch from English to Spanish and back again.

It’s been more than 50 years since I studied Spanish, but I know enough to be able to say, “Yo hablo un poquito espanol”. If you wanted to learn Spanish, there are LOTS of ways to do so, including the online course called Since our grandson will be bi-lingual (due to the fact that his mom is) learning to speak at least a little Spanish will be very useful in the future.

Do I think that English should be the official language of the United States?

At last count, there were 350 languages spoken in our country, so making English the official language seems like a really dumb idea.

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