US needs an official language?

Do you support this legislation?

  • Yes

    Votes: 20 47.6%
  • No

    Votes: 15 35.7%
  • Indifferent

    Votes: 6 14.3%
  • Other (please explain)

    Votes: 1 2.4%

  • Total voters
    42
  • #26
60
0
Pengwuino said:
Its not that I care to know what people are telling eachother... im just rather sick of walking into a 7-11 or a supermarket and not knowing what hte hell half the products are because the packaging is written in spanish. Not english + spanish... just spanish. 100% spanish. And no, these are not mexican supermarkets or anything logical like that.

If I ever tried to kill myself with some McDonalds food more often, I could show you the cup written entirely in spanish.

Well then the simple solution would be to learn spanish. I don't know about you, but most competent adults are able to figure out the contents of a package in the Mexican aisle of their supermarket based on the picture on the packaging and the minor spanish vocabulary that every American has, such as "taco."
 
  • #27
Moonbear
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I think I'll vote indifferent on this one. Pretty much all business in the US is done in English anyway. Whether or not some cater to speakers of other languages is their choice and would always remain their choice, even if English were made the "official" language. There are areas where Spanish is the predominant language, and that won't change by making English the official language, it would just mean that all signs, documents, etc. would have to include English (they could still have other languages on them, but there would be no law requiring it).

I think it's good to have a common language for communication. However, just as my experiences in Quebec were that there are varying degrees of English communication among native-French speakers even in a country in which English is one of the official languages, we can't expect that just because people are required to use English in official communication that it would lead to a sudden improvement in their writing skills or to erase their accents.

I think the costs would be a bit of a wash-out. On one hand, it could save money by not having to translate everything into 6 different languages. On the other hand, it could cost more money to ensure immigrants had access to English classes to learn the official language, or English speakers could demand higher wages than non-English speakers, even in areas where the predominant language isn't English.

I guess, overall, I'm indifferent because I don't think it would really change much about how things are currently done. Having an official language doesn't mean people have to stop using other languages, it just means if requested, they need to use the official language with those who prefer it. It means Pengwuino can walk into the corner Bodega and ask the clerk to conduct the transaction in English, but the clerk can continue to speak Spanish to all his/her Spanish-speaking customers.
 
  • #28
24
0
Moonbear said:
I think I'll vote indifferent on this one. Pretty much all business in the US is done in English anyway. Whether or not some cater to speakers of other languages is their choice and would always remain their choice, even if English were made the "official" language. There are areas where Spanish is the predominant language, and that won't change by making English the official language, it would just mean that all signs, documents, etc. would have to include English (they could still have other languages on them, but there would be no law requiring it).

(edit)...

I guess, overall, I'm indifferent because I don't think it would really change much about how things are currently done. Having an official language doesn't mean people have to stop using other languages, it just means if requested, they need to use the official language with those who prefer it. It means Pengwuino can walk into the corner Bodega and ask the clerk to conduct the transaction in English, but the clerk can continue to speak Spanish to all his/her Spanish-speaking customers.
It makes sense to any good business person to cater to as many customers as possible. In Hong Kong (previously a British Colony), there are stores that had english speaking and some that didn't. Some restaurants have menus exclusively in Chinese... however, this is a business decision... and if I went into one of these stores, I simply work with them to communicate as clearly, it was not their primary language.

I am also indifferent because I don't see the point... but if there are people passionate enough about it, so be it. Have it your way. o:)
 
  • #29
Moonbear
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Pengwuino said:
Im glad this is being put out there. I've lived in the United States my entire life and my city has been gradually turning into Mexico Part II.
Hmm...funny, since you live in CA, it was probably part of Mexico before it ever became part of the US. Perhaps the Spanish-speaking Mexicans have more of an argument against the English take-over of their former territory? :wink:

This move will only help Americans.
In what way? I've expressed that I don't think it will really help or hurt much. It might change a few things, but I think the positives and negatives will likely balance out. Or do you not consider immigrants from non-English speaking countries to be worthy of American citizenship? It's hard to see your statement being taken any other way. I wonder what your ancestry is? Have your ancestors all come from English speaking countries and never had to face the challenge of coming to a new country and needing to learn a new language? And if that's the case, why didn't they learn the language of those whose land they took over, why aren't we all speaking one of the Native American languages as the official language? This country was initially inhabited by the Native Americans, and then colonized by the British, French and Spanish. I see no reason why one of those should be exalted above all others as more "American." I wouldn't object to having French and Spanish added as official languages for historic reasons. I'd have a little trouble with including Native American languages simply because there are so many dialects and there are not enough members of the population who still speak these languages fluently enough to provide the necessary translators for all the businesses that would need them. That's a shame, because they really should receive recognition in this country, but just not practical.

Of course that is the way it has worked all over the world throughout time, that invaders enforce their language as the only official language in order to oppress the invaded. Perhaps that is the message you intended to convey, that non-English speakers should be oppressed and prevented from speaking their native language? You are aware that would not be the outcome of having an official language in the U.S., are you not?
 
  • #30
Moonbear
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outsider said:
It makes sense to any good business person to cater to as many customers as possible. In Hong Kong (previously a British Colony), there are stores that had english speaking and some that didn't. Some restaurants have menus exclusively in Chinese... however, this is a business decision... and if I went into one of these stores, I simply work with them to communicate as clearly, it was not their primary language.
Yes, that's currently how things stand, and I have no problem with it. If I go into a store and am for some reason entirely unable to communicate with the person working there, well, then they will lose my business and that's a risk they can choose to take. I can't say I've ever run into that problem anywhere in the U.S., even in neighborhoods that are primarily Hispanic or Chinese populations, with the exception of the occassional English-speaking clerk who is simply dumb as a doorknob. When I worked as a clerk in high school, I was even able to communicate with deaf customers without knowing any sign language.

I even traveled to Poland without knowing more than a few words in Polish. It was challenging to not speak the language at all, but somehow I always managed to complete the necessary transactions with a lot of pointing and liberal use of "thank you" in Polish to let them know I appreciated their patience with me. Though, my meals in restaurants tended to be surprises since I had no idea what I was ordering. :biggrin: As long as you don't mind the adventure, it can be done.
 
  • #31
honestrosewater
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The law doesn't apply to people's interactions with a clerk at 7-11. It does apply to citizens' interactions with their government.

This is not an illegal immigration bill, BTW.

Why were those courts wrong to find those state's English-only laws unconstitutional?

Protecting rights costs money? What a waste.

It might mean that the ballots for next year's election won't be available in any language other than English (Edit: Sorry, accomodations required for people with disabilities excepted). Would no one have a problem with that? Just tough luck for those who can't learn English well enough in the meantime. ??

A representative's communication with their constituents is official business. See this part:
`Nothing in this chapter shall be construed--

`(1) to prohibit a Member of Congress or any officer or agent of the Federal Government, while performing official functions, from communicating unofficially through any medium with another person in a language other than English (as long as official functions are performed in English)
Have a problem and want any official help from your representatives? Sure, that's your right. What? You don't speak English? Too bad. This is America, land of English-only speakers. Maybe you didn't see the sign:
Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the English-only golden door.

Yes, it upsets me. :grumpy:
 
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  • #32
honestrosewater
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Moonbear said:
I think I'll vote indifferent on this one. Pretty much all business in the US is done in English anyway. Whether or not some cater to speakers of other languages is their choice and would always remain their choice, even if English were made the "official" language.
No choice - English only.
`(a) Official Functions- The official functions of the Government of the United States shall be conducted in English.

`(b) Scope- For the purposes of this section, the term `United States' means the several States and the District of Columbia, and the term `official' refers to any function that (i) binds the Government, (ii) is required by law, or (iii) is otherwise subject to scrutiny by either the press or the public.

`(c) Practical Effect- This section shall apply to all laws, public proceedings, regulations, publications, orders, actions, programs, and policies,
Sure, any representative can explain in any language that all official business must be done in English.
 
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  • #33
loseyourname
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What are you concerned about with this 'representative' thing? That you'll write a letter to your senator in Swahili and he will no longer employ a translator? Are letters from constituents actually considered "official" business?

Also, are you sure this applies to ballots? It says above that it refers to the District of Columbia and all the states. Ballots are published by county governments - are they subject to this as well? If anything, this bill doesn't seem to give enough clarification.

Edit: If this law actually does restrict the printing of ballots to one language, it will be found unconstitutional and stricken from the books. There really isn't anything to worry about there.
 
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  • #34
24
0
government interactions in english only makes sense... street signs and official documents... sure...

other areas beyond official business with the government are basically uncontrollable...
 
  • #35
500
0
Pengwuino said:
Incorrect. Other nations have official national languages without any detrimental effects.

Im glad this is being put out there. I've lived in the United States my entire life and my city has been gradually turning into Mexico Part II. This move will only help Americans.
So true. Because of me living in Arizona, I also feel the horrid effects of being Mexico Part III(gotta count off somehow, right?). I once saw a commercial where some people were at a restaurant talking to each other, they order their food, and one of them gets the wrong item, and says to his friend "these people should really learn the language before coming here to serve us, you know?" and his friend is all offended and stuff. WTF, in any other country than the US, a person who doesnt know their language simply wont get a job at a McDonalds, and it's not a bad thing at all. It means the person is underqualified.
 
  • #36
912
0
loseyourname said:
If this law actually does restrict the printing of ballots to one language, it will be found unconstitutional
According to which part of the constitution?
 
  • #37
honestrosewater
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loseyourname said:
What are you concerned about with this 'representative' thing? That you'll write a letter to your senator in Swahili and he will no longer employ a translator? Are letters from constituents actually considered "official" business?
I thought so, but the only information I can find now is that this kind of communciation is usually considered confidential. So I may have been wrong.
Also, are you sure this applies to ballots? It says above that it refers to the District of Columbia and all the states. Ballots are published by county governments - are they subject to this as well? If anything, this bill doesn't seem to give enough clarification.
No, I'm not sure - I asked about this and no one replied - that's why I said 'might'.
The bill may also be changed as it goes through the process, before it's voted on.
Edit: If this law actually does restrict the printing of ballots to one language, it will be found unconstitutional and stricken from the books. There really isn't anything to worry about there.
But shouldn't that be considered before it becomes law? I don't think it's acceptable for Congress to just pass laws indiscriminately and let the courts decide whether the laws are actually allowed - and try to fix what harm is done in the meantime.
 
  • #38
Moonbear
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honestrosewater said:
No choice - English only.
No, there is always choice. You can have all the languages you want, it means English must be one of them. When's the last time you heard of Congress holding it's sessions in another language other than English anyway? Or the last time you saw a Supreme Court opinion written in Spanish or French? Or even a Presidential debate conducted in a language other than English? Official functions are already all done in English in the U.S. The law does not state that a translation can't be provided if someone wants to provide it.

Sure, any representative can explain in any language that all official business must be done in English.
Have you been to Canada recently? They have two official languages, French and English. I don't see them having any problems with that.

Actually, without an official language, I suppose if Congress decided to write up legislation in ancient sanskrit, they'd be free to do so, and nothing would require they translate it into any modern language if they didn't feel like it.
 
  • #39
honestrosewater
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hitssquad said:
According to which part of the constitution?
The good part. :biggrin: If you're asking because you're truly interested, http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/browse.html [Broken] is a great resource. There's even a list of http://www.gpoaccess.gov/constitution/html/acts.html [Broken] (with explanations).

Edit: Adding to some things in post #40... from the Lau v. Nichols decision:
The failure of the San Francisco school system to provide English language instruction to approximately 1,800 students of Chinese ancestry who do not speak English, or to provide them with other adequate instructional procedures, denies them a meaningful opportunity to participate in the public educational program and thus violates 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bans discrimination based "on the ground of race, color, or national origin," in "any program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance," and the implementing regulations of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Pp. 565-569

...

We do not reach the Equal Protection Clause argument which has been advanced but rely solely on 601 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. 2000d, to reverse the Court of Appeals.

- http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=414&invol=563
So I'm guessing either the Civil Rights Act or the Fifteenth, Fourteenth, or Fifth Amendment. Whoever is responsible for the ballots must fall under one of these.? Though the Fifth Amendment has no equal protection clause, SCOTUS decided in Bolling v. Sharpe that the federal government cannot hold itself to a lower standard than it holds the states:
(a) Though the Fifth Amendment does not contain an equal protection clause, as does the Fourteenth Amendment which applies only to the States, the concepts of equal protection and due process are not mutually exclusive. P. 499.

(b) Discrimination may be so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process. P. 499.

...

(d) In view of this Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, ante, p. 483, that the Constitution prohibits the States from maintaining racially segregated public schools, it would be unthinkable that the same Constitution would impose a lesser duty on the Federal Government.

- http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=us&vol=347&invol=497
 
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  • #40
honestrosewater
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Moonbear said:
No, there is always choice.
Geez, I really wasn't thinking clearly last night. Talking about rights tends to upset me, maybe even make me a bit paranoid. I'm sorry. You're right, it doesn't say English only. The other laws were referred to as English-only, and I guess I just grouped them all together. However, it still isn't clear whether they intended your interpretation or the English only one.
You can have all the languages you want, it means English must be one of them. When's the last time you heard of Congress holding it's sessions in another language other than English anyway? Or the last time you saw a Supreme Court opinion written in Spanish or French? Or even a Presidential debate conducted in a language other than English? Official functions are already all done in English in the U.S. The law does not state that a translation can't be provided if someone wants to provide it.
So what is the point of adopting the law? Adopting laws just for the heck of it is at worst wasteful and at best senseless. Why do we need this law?
Have you been to Canada recently? They have two official languages, French and English. I don't see them having any problems with that.
I've never been outside of the US. Are their laws the same though? Some official language laws are merely symbolic.
Actually, without an official language, I suppose if Congress decided to write up legislation in ancient sanskrit, they'd be free to do so, and nothing would require they translate it into any modern language if they didn't feel like it.
I couldn't find a law specifically about languages in general, presumably because there's been no reason for such a law (since most business is already conducted in English), but there are laws regarding meaningful access for 'limited English proficient' (LEP) individuals:
Q. What are the relevant laws concerning language access for LEP individuals?

A. Federal laws particularly applicable to language access include Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Title VI regulations, prohibiting discrimination based on national origin, and Executive Order 13166 issued in 2000. Many individual federal programs, states, and localities also have provisions requiring language services for LEP individuals.

Q. What is Executive Order 13166?

A. An Executive Order is an order given by the President to federal agencies. The LEP Executive Order (Executive Order 13166) says that people who are LEP should have meaningful access to federally conducted and federally funded programs and activities.

- http://www.lep.gov/faq.html [Broken]
The United States Supreme Court in Lau v. Nichols (1974) stated that one type of national origin discrimination is discrimination based on a person’s inability to speak, read, write, or understand English.

- http://www.fec.gov/pages/lepaccessplan.html
I don't think we need this law in order to ensure that English speakers will have access to the information that they are already entitled to. The same or similar laws that protect non-English-speakers should also protect English speakers.
 
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  • #41
356
3
Moonbear said:
Have you been to Canada recently? They have two official languages, French and English. I don't see them having any problems with that.
HA! You must not be looking hard enough :biggrin:
 
  • #42
Smurf said:
HA! You must not be looking hard enough :biggrin:
Tell him to hang an English sign outside of a business in Quebec and see what happens. :surprised
 
  • #43
737
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Smurf, does Canada have more than 2 official languages? Is that what you were getting at with "you must not be looking hard enough"?

~Kitty
 
  • #44
iansmith
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Canada has only two official language but each province have their own status. What it means is that any the federal government has to communicate in english or french. Also, all labeling goods are bilingual. This also allow people speaking french or english as their first languague to have education in their first language.

Province have different statues, Quebec is french only province, New-brunswick is billingual and the rest is english only. Most official provincial will have bilingual service but it always depends on the person serving you.

The Smoking Man said:
Tell him to hang an English sign outside of a business in Quebec and see what happens.
You are allowed to have an english sign but it has to have french on it.
 
  • #45
166
0
The reality is that the United States necessitates a law which proclaims English as its official language in order to preserve cultural unity and facilitate the assimilation of the substantial wave of Hispanic immigrants that have reached the country since the 1960's.
 
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  • #46
honestrosewater
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iansmith said:
You are allowed to have an english sign but it has to have french on it.
Are you joking, or is that true? A private business?
Curious6 said:
The reality is that the United States necessitates a law which proclaims English as its official language in order to preserve cultural unity and facilitate the assimilation of the substantial wave of Hispanic immigrants that have reached the country since the 1960's.
How is havng an official language going to accomplish this?

What is the difference between assimilation and suppression?
 
  • #47
912
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Assimilation, suppression and enhancement

honestrosewater said:
What is the difference between assimilation and suppression?
Suppression of undesirable traits is one of the properties of assimilation. The other property is enhancement of desirable traits.
 
  • #48
356
3
misskitty said:
Smurf, does Canada have more than 2 official languages? Is that what you were getting at with "you must not be looking hard enough"?
No, I mean it's not completely without problems.
honestrosewater said:
Are you joking, or is that true? A private business?
Completely true, in Quebec.
What is the difference between assimilation and suppression?
One is borg-ish the other is hitler-ish.
 
  • #49
loseyourname
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hitssquad said:
Suppression of undesirable traits is one of the properties of assimilation. The other property is enhancement of desirable traits.
Assimilation does not connote any particular value of the traits being suppressed or enhanced. The traits suppressed are simply the traits that make one group different from the other, and the traits enhanced are the traits that make them similar. Unless you're saying homogeneity is desirable in and of itself, I don't see how an evaluative judgement of the particular traits is implied in the discriminatory process employed.
 
  • #50
loseyourname
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hitssquad said:
According to which part of the constitution?
Actually, I suppose the printing of ballots in English only is not unconstitutional, but if the counties were to do so, they would have to provide a translator. Otherwise, there is a de facto qualification process for who is allowed to vote (akin to the old literacy tests designed to disfranchise blacks in the south), which is not in accord with the articles and amendments pertaining to who is allowed to vote, which at this point is any citizen above the age of 18 who is not a felon. There is no requirement that one must be able to read English or even that one must be able to read at all.
 

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