Hello, Nope Fish! (and the occasional Yuppie that decides to come spy on my information…)
Below is a post with researched information presented in paragraphs that relate to specific subtopics that will hopefully assist you in your debate. So rather than presenting the information according to which source it came from, I decided to dissect all the sources and put together relevant arguments to the topic that will be debated. Sources from which the information is from will be shown at the end of each block of information, and that source identification (e.g. Source x) can be matched with a citation at the end of this post. This information is divided into the following categories:
1. Points of Argument – These will be the main points against making English the official language of the US. Some are longer than others, but nevertheless each one is still a (hopefully) valid argument you can make against the Yuppies.
2. Further Argument – This is just a single argument that you can make that goes beyond the topic. It’s not mandatory, but I put it here in case you want to use it.
3. Rebuttals – These are possible comebacks to possible arguments that the Yuppies might have against your argument. I guess you can use these as Points of Argument too, but I put them down as rebuttals because they can help you with fighting back against the Yup arguments. I think that having rebuttals and knowing what the Yuppies might say is important if you want to fight them off and win. So prepare your own rebuttals too.
Oh, and for those of you who do choose to use my research…
(Or woman. Go equality. See credit in citation)
No seriously; you just might get a cookie. I hope to see the Surprise and Delight on your faces if you do happen to get one. 🙂
Points of Argument:
According to the most recent Census, Robert D King (historical linguist) cites that 94% of the people in the United States speak English willingly. Mario E Mujica (Chairman of advocacy group ‘US English’, claimed that the percentage is actually 97%, thus rendering a law that makes English the official language of the US pointless. Because most people are already speaking English primarily (79% only speak English at home), it seems that making English the official language is promoted not only to make communication clear, but also due to the fact that many English-only supporters fear “changing racial demographics” in the US. (Source 1)
With such high levels of English proficiency within the States, protection over the English language by making it the official language of the US would be unnecessary. The only logical reason to officialize English would be if the language were threatened. According to Robert D King, Americans should “relax and luxuriate in our linguistic richness and our traditional tolerance of language differences”. When facing the notion that language is a threat to unity, King concluded that “benign neglect* is a good policy for any country when it comes to language, and it’s a good policy for America”. (Source 1)
(Merriam-Webster) – Benign Neglect: “an attitude or policy of ignoring an often delicate or undesirable situation that one is held to be responsible for dealing with”.
2. Does not necessarily unify people
Although English is spoken predominantly in the US, not all English is the same. For example, English spoken in Georgia (South) would be vastly different from the English that is spoken in Massachusetts (North). Wisconsin and Illinois have pronunciations and phrases that seem ridiculous to Texans (Yee-Haaw!) and the opposite would hold true too. With different phrases and pronunciations of the English language, miscommunication is possible (see Further Argument). (Source 1)
3. Cultural relativism
The theory of Cultural Relativism states that all cultures are valued equally, and that no culture has the right to determine the value of another. Thus immigrants that bring their own culture and language to the US should be permitted to continue with their lifestyle. Bill Pliat (Author of Only English?” Law & Language Policy in the United States) argues that people should have a right to language, rather than have one forced upon them. (Source 4)
4. Loss of culture
According to Elliot Lam (Author of Source 3), “preserving language is necessary in order to preserve culture”. Forcing citizens to adopt English as their primary language can cause a great loss in culture, because elders will be enrolled in English study classes rather than teaching the youth of traditional stories, legends, and culture. In fact, there is no guarantee that those that are forced to learn English will achieve desired results due to lack of motivation and poorly organized lessons. (Source 3)
Conservatives believe that forcing immigrants to change their language causes a change in the people’s perspectives “for the better”, whereas liberals argue that preserving language permits greater perspectives from cultural diversity. (Source 4)
A quote by Edward Sapir (anthropologist-lingust) reads as follows:
“Language is not merely a more or less systematic inventory of the various items of experience which seem relevant to the individual, . . . it is also a self-contained, creative symbolic organization, which not only refers to experience largely acquired without its help but actually defines experience for us by reason of its formal completeness and because of our unconscious projection of its implicit expectations into the field of experience.”
In other words, Sapir states that preserving language is necessary for preserving culture, because language is unique to each individual, and the personal connection that we feel with our language shapes our identities. (Source 4)
Enacting an official language policy forces people to learn English, which can be burdensome to the older generation of immigrants, who are already burdened with the transition of lifestyle and culture as they adapt to the US.
1. Making English the official language should be banned
Not only should we not make English the official language of the US, but we should even go to a further step as to ban it from ever being the official language. This is because similar languages can often cause misunderstanding and contention. For example, look at Ireland and Northern Ireland, North and South Korea, the Union and the Confederacy. (Source 2)
“Prohibiting English will do for the language what Prohibition did for liquor. Those who already use it will continue to do so, and those who don’t will want to try out what has been forbidden. This negative psychology works with children. It works with speed limits. It even worked in the Garden of Eden.” (Source 2)
Basically, the idea is that by banning English from ever becoming the official language of the US, it will actually promote usage of the language due to reverse psychology.
1. English does not automatically equate to fairness and equity. (In response to: English permits people to defend themselves)
A proficiency in English does not necessarily mean that one is guaranteed humanity and fairness in the eyes of individuals or systems. For example, the ability to communicate in English does not exempt African-Americans from accusations by police officers. (Source 1)
2. English is not a declining language, even amongst immigrants, thus doesn’t require forced learning (In response to: English is losing its prevalence in the US since immigrants are not trying to learn it)
English is not a dying language. The US has an English-speaking population of over 97%, which is higher than that of any other country with an official language law. Immigrants are not refraining from learning the language either, as today’s non-English speaking immigrants learn English faster than earlier generations did. In fact, there are so many English speaking people around the globe that French Canadians in Quebec were considering amending a law that would reduce the use of English. Thus, it can be concluded that English is as strong as it ever was, and does not need to be forced upon the population of the US as an official language to be learned. Below is a map of the world with percentage of English speakers. Use it if you can. (Source 3)
(Source: See citations)
3. Multilingualism does not corrupt the English language – English itself is a melting pot of multiple languages (In response to: permitting multiple languages to coexist within the US will cause an alteration of English)
The US is a country made up of immigrants, and many proponents of English claim that foreign languages in the country may corrupt or damage English. Yet this somewhat hypocritical, as the English language has been affected by other languages to such an extent that it should no longer be considered ‘English’, but rather a conglomeration of French, Latin, Italian, Scandinavian, Arabic, Sanskrit, Celtic, Yiddish, Chinese, as well as the occasional smiley face thrown in. Examples of words with non-English origins include: ketchup, jungle, breeze, mattress, zombie and hurricane. (Source 2 and 3)
4. Immigrants can succeed without having to learn English (In response to: immigrants that don’t learn English will not succeed in the US)
Throughout the history of the US, immigrants from everywhere around the globe have moved to the US speaking little English, yet they have all found way to succeed in the melting pot that is America. And just because the older generations of immigrants are unable to speak English, history has shown that their children will speak English primarily and their grandchildren will speak only English. That being said, it is not at all necessary to force older generations to learn English in fear of them not succeeding in society. (Source 3)
Source 1: Miller, Eric C. “Should English Be the US Official Language?” Aeon Magazine. Web. 10 Nov. 2014. <http://aeon.co/magazine/society/does-america-need-to-make-english-its-official-language/>.
Source 2: “Don’t Make English Official.” PBS. Web. 10 Nov. 2014 <http://www.pbs.org/speak/seatosea/officialamerican/banenglish/>.
Source 3: Lam, Elliot. “Official American Language Would Be Contrary to National Values.” Daily Titan. 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.dailytitan.com/2013/10/official-american-language-would-be-contrary-to-national-values/>.
Source 4: Barnhart, Larry. “Why English Should NOT Be America’s Official Language.” Why English Should NOT Be America’s Official Language. June 1996. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.fluxneo.com/llbarnhart/englishonly.htm>.
Cookie Meme Source: Give That Man A Cookie. Digital image. Photobucket. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://i1343.photobucket.com/albums/o788/Roguesoldier678/Cookiesonthisbitch_zpsa713d92b.jpg>.
Map Source: English Speakers. Digital image. The History of English. Web. 13 Nov. 2014. <http://www.thehistoryofenglish.com/pics/english_speakers.jpg>.
*Note: Citations are not ordered alphabetically, but in the order according the the source it is labeled.