“A computer is like an Old Testament god, with a lot of rules and no mercy”

Wednesday, April 28

Nothing New

Years ago, I took a philosophy class in college where we discussed the political and social questions of a "national" language for the United States. As you can imagine, there was absolutely no consensus.

Then as now, I know I'm not for a national language. I think it sort of defeats the purpose. You know, the whole "land of the free" thing. They come here to be free, not forced into a mold that is stamped "average American" on the side.

I'm seeing lots of reporting on this subject and others that lie along the same vein. This has especially been stirred up by Arizona.

'This Is Alabama. We Speak English.'
'Arizona Is The Meth Lab Of Democracy' (VIDEO)
The Arizona of 2010 Is the Alabama of 1963

Obviously there are a lot of sore feelings about these issues on both sides. I'm not saying I know the solution (or even a solution). All I'm saying is, these are not new issues. This has been floating around for a loooooong time. Much longer than that class I took 20 years ago.

Part of being a member of the Land of the Free is not only having the right to question things, but having the responsibility to question. I'm glad these issues are being discussed. I just wish people would leave off rhetoric and discuss things more rationally (pipe-dream, I know).

I'm still not certain where I stand on these issues. I'm torn and divided, much like our country. Maybe we both can find a consensus within us at some point.


Anonymous said...

If you want to see the chaos of more than one official language in a country, visit Belgium. Every road sign in Brussels pointing to a town has two names. For example, a single town is named both Mons (Waloon French) and Bergen (Flemish Dutch). Every government document is in both languages. If a country tries to use multiple languages, life becomes chaotic, especially as the number of languages increase. Imagine getting your income tax instructions in over 100 languages.

Mad Man said...

I'm not for putting everyone's language on every sign or document. I almost put this in my post, but decided I'd just leave it be.

If someone comes to this country, they should be expected to expend some effort, at least enough to function as productive members of society.

I'm still not certain I agree with a national language. The English language is homogenized enough as it is. Regional dialects are disappearing, and that's a little sad. I'm from the South, but sound like I'm from the Mid-West (unless I'm drinking).

This isn't necessarily a bad thing, per se, but it saddens me that our diversity is growing less diverse. I imagine with all the methods of communication available that it's inevitable.

As I said, I'm of mixed emotions concerning a national language. I've been musing on this question since Bob Dole brought it up and it was raised in my class all those years ago. I've still not found an answer that appeals to my sense of fair play for either side. I keep imagining what it would've been like for my own ancestors to have been forced to know English prior to coming to America over two centuries ago (some were German, some French). I do know they learned once they arrived, but what might have happened if they weren't allowed in if they didn't speak English first?