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Thread: "official" languages - good or bad idea?

  1. #1
    Regular Member
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    great lakes region, north america
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    Country: United States



    "official" languages - good or bad idea?



    This morning I listened to an hour long radio program on Wisconsin (US) public
    radio with the guest advocating English as the official language of the United States. English would be the language government would be conducted in - by law, and everyone would be required to learn English. The particular legislation this person was pushing contained nothing whatsoever with regards to funding for English language courses for immigrants currently hard working at jobs in the US, usually the type of jobs the rest of us don't want to do - close to minimum wage, or service industry such as hotels or meat packing plants.

    We went though this very debate in the county I live in where there are lots of hispanic and latino people who work at preparing our beef from cows.

    The county ended up passing legislation making English the official language.
    BUT, it didn't do ANYTHING, because government documents still had to be made available in multiple languages because not being 100% proficient in English fell under something like "americans with disabilities act". I think.

    Anyway, it was made clear that not having those documents available in other languages is similar to not having wheelchair ramps into the county court house.
    How hard is it anyway, to go onto the computer down at the court house,
    scroll down from a menu the language of choice, and click "print".

    Enough babbling on my part.

    "official" languages - good or bad idea?
    Should it depend on the situation in a country and
    maybe not be a one size fits all type of concept?

  2. #2
    Chukchi Salmon
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    Good question: let's have a poll !

    Language policy is complicated stuff I think.
    Maybe it's just me but I have a hard time understnading the pros and cons of going mono/bi/multilingual for the official language.

    I remember that some county in CA dumped the bilingual policy and went back to English only sometime in the early 1990's. But I really don't know much than that. Maybe the Spanish/Cantonese/Mandarin/Korean/Vietnamese speaking residents were at a disadvantage because of it ?

    I wonder if there is some article that shows you a list or chart comparing the benefits and losses of moving for English only.

    Question 1: What is the real motivation of that bill ?
    Question 2: What are they trying to accomplish ? I'm sure it's not just language they are interested in. To cut costs ? According to what you say, they still had to provide translated documents and interpreters in the courst, so that doesn't compute. Then why ?

    One suggestion: It would also be nice if you could ask one of the moderators to add a poll so we can have a measure of members' opinions even if somebody prefers not to post a response. (Good thread, btw !!)
    Last edited by lexico; 04-03-05 at 16:10. Reason: title, type-o
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

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