Should English be the national language of the united states?

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  1. profile image0
    Mtbailzposted 12 years ago

    The Tampa republican debate brought up the topic of a national language. This would mean all politics would be dealt in the English language. This includes voting ballots. What are the bonuses to such a policy and on the other hand what are the unintended consequences?

    1. lobobrandon profile image88
      lobobrandonposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Hmm just to make things clear - I thought everything was in English? Which are the other languages used in politics?

      1. profile image0
        Mtbailzposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        In many places within the united states the states are forces to print ballots in Spanish.

        1. lobobrandon profile image88
          lobobrandonposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Hmm I didn't know that..

    2. Josak profile image59
      Josakposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      I just dont see the point, if it makes it easier for people to understand the balot why make it harder for them after all everyone elegible should vote.

    3. Pearldiver profile image68
      Pearldiverposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Wow.. that is a bit tough!

      Just when the rest of the World was learning the uniqueness of that relatively, newly acquired Mexican/Spanish slang, to enable us to understand the diversity of the US!

      Fancy that... I believe History gave you the opportunity to Speak French... but the politicians didn't like that either! yikes 

      C'est Loco mate! big_smile

    4. Dave Mathews profile image60
      Dave Mathewsposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      There was a time that there was but one language in the whole world. I think it woud be great if we returned back to that time and English was made international.

  2. colpolbear profile image94
    colpolbearposted 12 years ago

    I would personally consider such a law unconstitutional.  It would deter non-English speaking people from voting and voicing their opinions.  In other words, it could be considered a limitation to the first amendment plus play against a citizen's right to vote.  Whether it's the right or okay thing to do ethically is a whole other discussion.  I'm just saying that even if it were to pass the house, senate and president, it probably wouldn't last in the supreme court.

    1. wilderness profile image95
      wildernessposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Is not the citizenship test given only in English?  If so, how could this be unconstitutional?  Do non-citizens vote now or are there really that many natural born citizens that cannot speak English?

      In addition, native language is not one of the protected areas such as sex, race, religion, etc.

      1. Eaglekiwi profile image76
        Eaglekiwiposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        ..Test might be in English ,but the most every Western country I know of provides a translator (if required) and or copies of same test in Spanish. Least it was that way 4yrs ago for my ex Mexican neighbour.

        In New Zealand many people are annoyed that underneath every signpostin buildings ,streets ,shopping malls etc and automated voicemails are options for English ,then Chinese ,Japanese or Korean.

        In the USA you have Spanish signs everywhere and intructions alongside English signs/audio messages etc.

        With just the examples its easy to see its about money,if they can read it ,they will spend $$'s.

        The biggest irritation I have is I am 100% positive that if I ,a well-spoken English person lived in China,(not sure about Mexico) I would not be as well served, then again ,China probably doesnt need my money lol

  3. colpolbear profile image94
    colpolbearposted 12 years ago

    It's true that the citizenship test is only given in English (there are some elderly exemptions.)  That doesn't mean there aren't citizens who don't speak English.  Since every citizen has a right to vote and taking away their language would indirectly limit that right, I am fairly convinced that the supreme court would consider it blocking the right to vote.   While native language isn't protected specifically under the first amendment, it can be considered a form of speech, which is protected.  It would all depend on the interpretation the supreme court has at the time (granted it ever happens.)

    1. Disturbia profile image60
      Disturbiaposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      When my mother came to the US from Hungary, nobody provided a translator to her.  She had to learn English.  She also spoke German and Russian, but was not provided a translator for those languages either.  She taught herself how to speak, read, and write English by watching TV and reading childrens books to me.  None of the other first generation immigrants who lived in my neighborhood who came to the US during the 50s and 60s had translators either.  They all had to learn English which they did.

  4. Mighty Mom profile image78
    Mighty Momposted 12 years ago

    It would make voting less expensive to only print ballots and other government forms in English.
    I think there is, or should be, a reasonable expectation that American citizens over the age of 18 have had sufficient exposure to the English language that they should be able to vote in English.
    We are the great MELTING POT country. Meaning, from many cultures, one America.
    You wanna speak Spanish or Cantonese or whatever your native tongue is at home, that's fine. Preserve your cultural heritage. Lovely.

    But I feel we are bending over way too backwards in the accommodation dept.
    Bottom line: Live here. Learn English.

    (some of you may be shocked to hear that from a branded liberal).

    1. Eaglekiwi profile image76
      Eaglekiwiposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Well said and lets face it when I travel to a foreign country , I dont expect them to translate every single instruction in English  (maybe just bathrooms,lol) and exit signs, but seriously I think in the west our political leaders make these monetary deals behind closed doors ,but we are the ones who have to bend over backwards-ahem and we know what comes next wink

  5. colpolbear profile image94
    colpolbearposted 12 years ago

    I've never agreed with the entire melting pot thing.  Supposedly the United States is run by "individuals," so shouldn't we be referred to as (as my Gov. teacher has always said) a cultural mosaic?  Furthermore, if we are a melting pot, why should English be all that's accepted?  We are The United States of America, not England.  Although a majority of the country (maybe not for long (not necessarily a bad thing either)) speaks English as a first language, is it right to tell everyone else to learn English?  Supposedly, English is also one of the hardest languages to learn.  Words like there, their and they're are so confusing that not many Americans or English can even use them correctly. 

    Oddly enough, I'm probably one of the greatest supporters of common culture.  I have a distinctive belief that having language barriers (and others) is one of the leading causes to any sort of international disputes and poor relations.  Humans communicate through language, after all.  This being the case, I'm not exactly opposed to the idea of a common language.  I just think it's unconstitutional and wouldn't realistically happen.  (I'm mostly arguing the practicality, not the reason-ability.)  As listed above though, English honestly probably wouldn't even be the most practical language to make our national considering the population type within and outside of the country.

    Keep in mind that I'm extremely English and hate learning foreign languages.  It just appears as though many people support the idea because they're annoyed with non-English speakers, while those same speakers have the same right to be just as angry with us.  After all, who gets to choose their first language?  It's a touchy subject that will probably take many years to resolve.

    1. Josak profile image59
      Josakposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      It doesent cost very much to translate a ballot so little we shouldn't care. I have no problem with people not speaking English, ultimately it will have a negative effect on them but its not my place to force someone to learn a language they may not want to learn, its the home of the brave and the land of the free, free to speak whatever you want in my books tongue

      1. colpolbear profile image94
        colpolbearposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        That's what I'm saying too (roughly.)  I do believe we should make things more universal, but I can't really say we should do things one way or the other (nor do I care to push the subject on a national level.)

  6. secularist10 profile image61
    secularist10posted 12 years ago

    Well, let's see. The United States has managed to get along just fine for over 200 years without an official language.

    (And by "just fine" I mean growing from a few paltry towns and villages huddled along a coastline to the wealthiest, strongest, most influential economic powerhouse in the history of humankind, that's all.)

    So why are we having this debate again? Hmmm...

    1. Eaglekiwi profile image76
      Eaglekiwiposted 12 years agoin reply to this … ted_States

      Gosh I didn't know that the USA didn't have an official language,at least at the federal level,no wonder foreigners can demand their language have equal status?

      1. secularist10 profile image61
        secularist10posted 12 years agoin reply to this

        I'm not sure which foreigners you are referring to?

        1. Pearldiver profile image68
          Pearldiverposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Perhaps the KIWI in her name provides a clue! smile

          1. Eaglekiwi profile image76
            Eaglekiwiposted 12 years agoin reply to this


            Ahem foreigner as in 'not country of origin' wink

            P.S For the record my english is purrrrfect ,hehe

  7. rdtaxcredits profile image60
    rdtaxcreditsposted 12 years ago

    English has been adopted as the standard communication worldwide, if you want to do business across the world, then English is the language of choice. 

    When a vast proportion of the world speaks Spanish and Chinese (or varying dialects of both) then there's Hindi, French etc. at some point there has to be a common ground the majority can communicate on.

    The other option is to pick a majority language by population e.g. if the local population is Spanish speaking have everything in Spanish with an English translation.

    A silly idea?

    I live near the border between England and Wales, I can drive 20 minutes from my home and the road signs are all in Welsh with an English translation, as is all the other written information.  Wales, the whole country, has roughly the same population as Chicago, their first language is Welsh, kids at school are taught Welsh and they have their own Welsh TV channels too.  Although pretty much all of the Welsh people speak English too (as much as they'd hate to admit it, as their first language)

  8. ptosis profile image68
    ptosisposted 12 years ago

    Hawaii has two official languages: Hawaiian and English. When the USA stole the islands, there was 95% literacy - in Hawaiian.

    I enjoyed the signs at the shipping dock that was in English and in Chinese. If the idea is to communicate - why disable yourself? … age_status

    Check out the page about the outlying islands of Samoa or Puerto Rico. It would be stupid to have just one official language

    1. Eaglekiwi profile image76
      Eaglekiwiposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      New Zealand has two official languages.

      NZ Maori (Indigenous)

      Parents and some educators are concerned with Americanism creeping into everyday conversational

  9. steveamy profile image60
    steveamyposted 12 years ago
  10. Ralph Deeds profile image66
    Ralph Deedsposted 12 years ago

    No. This is a non-issue brought up to stir up ignorant proletarian Tea Baggers.

    1. steveamy profile image60
      steveamyposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      tea baggers, racists and xenophobes .... just to clarify

      1. colpolbear profile image94
        colpolbearposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        steveamy, aren't they all the same thing?  lol

        1. steveamy profile image60
          steveamyposted 12 years agoin reply to this


    2. Evan G Rogers profile image61
      Evan G Rogersposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Just like OWS? Tax Codes? Health Care? Government mandated (insert random thing that used to be provided sufficiently and properly in a free market until the government over-regulated it)?

      Proletariat? Really? I think that gives away your ideology.

  11. Greek One profile image63
    Greek Oneposted 12 years ago

    Shouldn't more important issues be debated... like whether to change the color of Oreo cookies?

    The current format has the a pure, white pro-American filling surrounded by a hostile encroaching black exterior on both sides

  12. Evan G Rogers profile image61
    Evan G Rogersposted 12 years ago

    I was actually surprised to hear Ron Paul's response to this.

    The Constitution does not give the Federal Government the power to create a national language.

    So, I disagree with Paul here.

    He claims the reason is to just make the federal government manageable, which makes some sense: the national register, in English, is some 80,000 pages long. Imagine that tri-lingual!!!

    1. Greek One profile image63
      Greek Oneposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      Seems like the Constitution can be interpreted in anyway Mr. Paul desires to carry out his agenda.

      1. Mighty Mom profile image78
        Mighty Momposted 12 years agoin reply to this


        1. Evan G Rogers profile image61
          Evan G Rogersposted 12 years agoin reply to this

          Quote ONE passage from the Constitution without looking it up.

          Right now. Go.

          1. Evan G Rogers profile image61
            Evan G Rogersposted 12 years agoin reply to this


      2. Evan G Rogers profile image61
        Evan G Rogersposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        This coming from someone who supports the shredder that the Constitution was passed through a century or two ago.

      3. Evan G Rogers profile image61
        Evan G Rogersposted 12 years agoin reply to this

        Actually, the more I think about it, I might have to agree with Ron Paul. The "Necessary and Proper" clause of the Constitution allows Congress to operate its powers in any "necessary and proper" way (when you have 80,000 pages worth of documents, it might be necessary/proper to not reprint that 20 different times in other languages). Paul himself even pointed out that it would be UNCONSTITUTIONAL to force states to ONLY operate in English.

        Paul might've just pwned me.

        With a greater understanding of the Constitution, the demand for a NATIONAL language isn't even very atrocious. Each state could easily accommodate for any languages it might deem necessary (just as Paul suggested in the debate).

        Also, the end of A1S8 DOES say:
        "To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof."
        (Note: Foregoing Powers means those explicitly listed in A1S8)

        Thus, it is entirely plausible to demand that the federal government operate exclusively in English ONLY in the powers granted it by the Constitution. Indeed, The Federalist Papers #41 explain that this is exactly what the "necessary and proper" clause of the Constitution means.

        However, I must insist I think it's frivolous to even demand this. I don't know many weak-at-English individuals who are running for public, federal office.

  13. I am DB Cooper profile image63
    I am DB Cooperposted 12 years ago

    With more and more ballots being in electronic form, I would think the cost of providing an alternative language ballot would be negligible. The number of languages available on alternative ballots could be limited by the number of native speakers of that language (I'm not sure if that data is available from the census, but if it is this would be the time to use it).

    I don't really see a reason to make English an "official language" and forbid the use of others. This seems like another one of those political non-issues intended to scare middle America into thinking their way of life is being attacked. It's not. English is still the most valuable language in the world to know, which means it's only going to spread, especially among immigrants in the United States.

  14. psycheskinner profile image81
    psycheskinnerposted 12 years ago

    The US doesn't need an official national language.  All official functions are mandated to be in English, that is sufficient.

    1. Evan G Rogers profile image61
      Evan G Rogersposted 12 years agoin reply to this

      When all the federal regulations and codes take up 80,000+ pages, then it very well could be considered "necessary and proper" to make English the FEDERAL language.

  15. Druid Dude profile image60
    Druid Dudeposted 12 years ago

    Legalese is the most valuable language, here or anywhere. In that it pertains to the subject of the most distinguished question, may I go on record as stating that english would make sense as a national language if it hadn't suffered so much abuse over the last ten years. I really don't care what someone speaks as long as I don't have to talk to them. If they wish to converse with me, then english will have to do. Education should be a choice...not something crammed down our collective throats.


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