Does the United States of America need an Official Language? Troy D. Cutchens
Does the United States of America need an Official Language? Surprisingly, the United States of America does not have an official language. This brought about the discussion of the need for a national language. Does the United States need an official language? The United States of America is often thought of as a melting pot of nations, which as a whole speaks English. But does that mean that the nation needs to declare English as the official language? The national public is largely divided, when it comes to a need for an official language; some states argue that the United States should refrain from declaring an official language, still other states believe that Spanish should be the official language given the most recent 2010 census which concludes, “Spanish speakers accounted for the largest numeric increase — nationwide, there were 23.4 million more speakers in 2007 than in 1980 representing a 211 percent increase.”, while yet other states suggest that we should not limit ourselves to a single language, since we were founded as a nation of immigrants, we should be open to any and all languages. In some states, monthly debates are held on the subject of declaring an official national language. In other states the periodicity is much greater as illustrated in a 2007 Press Telegram article, “This week's questions: Do you think English proficiency should be a requirement for citizenship?” The debates are heated and controversial to say the least. The views on this topic vary widely, by both everyday legal citizens and illegal immigrants, and the topic does not reside solely within the constraints of the beltway between the various lobbying political and non-political groups. The political fallout of continued indecision may not be realized, but will be discussed thoroughly. In addition to any decision being made on this topic; the implementation to enact on a national or state by state level will be weighed for effect. The research will present several competing aspects concerning English as the language of the United States, but will not be limited to English. Aside from monetary hardships associated with having or not having an official language, the research will provide a brief history on English as the official language of the nation, and also a brief overview of recent legal actions related to this topic. Advocacy groups have suggested that English only is a requirement. ProEnglish.org(2012) points back to the 1910 Arizona law known as “the Enabling Act” which states “the ability to read, write, speak, and understand the English language sufficiently well”. Lawmakers have similarly argued that mandating any system which requires more than English, would create unnecessary financial strain. Translation services alone would add to already tight yearly budgets. The actual amount that these services cost are not completely know, but are estimated to be enormous. Steven M Kahaner (2009) offers, “In the federal courts alone, interpreted events have been increasing steadily over the past decade, from approximately 100,000 in 1996, to 232,457 in 113 different languages in the 12 months ending September 30, 2007” . In a 2010 US Census bureau posting “The number of people 5 and older who spoke a language other than English at home has more than doubled in the last three decades and at a pace four times greater than the nation's population growth”. Although Spanish is the most common non-English language being spoken in most homes, there are more than 300 single languages or "language families" used in the United States,” The fact that everything including, but not limited to, “the costs of hiring bilingual teachers, printing bilingual textbooks, translating every government website into multiple languages, requiring every agency and department throughout the...
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