Scott Hardie | April 12, 2005
West Virginia Makes English Its Official Language: (link)

When I first saw this headline, I thought it was a "humorous" story about how someone realized the state had forgotten since its inception to declare a language and it now finally got around to it, like how Ohio didn't actually become a legal state until 1953. (link) But I was disappointed to learn there was something more insidious going on: The eventual success of an ongoing effort to keep English as the "official" language so that no government agency needs to provide materials in any other language. In other words, an effort to keep immigrants from getting too comfortable in the state, and possibly an underhanded way of keeping a few immigrants from obtaining government benefits.

Am I the only one who believes this stinks?

Anna Gregoline | April 12, 2005
Wow, that's really, really rude and cheap of them.

Scott Hardie | April 12, 2005
I mean, I can see that their interest is in preserving Ohioan culture. Few or none of them are actually interested in denying govertmental access to immigrants as the goal of the drive; they're just worried about the erosion of the collective culture. It's like gay marriage or any other issue where certain people fight to keep things the way they are. But just as in the issue of gay marriage, I have to wonder whether the oh-so-very-fragile majority culture is truly so endangered that they have to deny basic and important rights to members of the minority. That's just not right.

Anna Gregoline | April 13, 2005
*Insert some joke about the lack of "Ohio culture" to preserve here.*

I'm sure they're just trying to save money - it's not a nice thing, but cutting costs is rarely kind.

Mike Eberhart | April 13, 2005
The Official language of this entire Country should be English. If you can't speak the language, or even read the language, then you don't need to be living here. Plain and simple. I have no problem with what West Virginia did. More power to them.

Kris Weberg | April 13, 2005
So illiterates aren't citizens?

John E Gunter | April 13, 2005
I think people should take an interest in learning what has been the official/unofficial language of the U.S., that being English. But, I also think that a method needs to be provided so that individuals who can't read the language, whether it be that English is not their mother tongue or that they can't read at all, then something needs to be provided so that they can get the information they need.

On the flip side, if you're to lazy to learn the language of the country that you want to live in, then you don't need to be living in that country. Plus, why should a country change their official language to fit your needs? I don't hear anyone trying to change the official language of say Spain, France or Germany. That doesn't mean there isn't a move to have it done, but if there is, I haven't heard about it.

Course, in most of those countries, people speak more than one language, which is a downfall of most Americans, so that's why I feel we need to make a way for newly arrived immigrants to receive the information they need to live here.

Story about this subject, a good friend of mine, whose parents are from Cuba, related this story to me, and his mother confirmed it. You see, when they fled Cuba because of Castro, she couldn't speak any English. But she took the time to learn the language of her new country. Took her a while, but to listen to her talk, you'd think she was born here and was one of the few American's who was multilingual.

My paternal grandmother was also multilingual, German and English, but since she lived in the U.S. she always spoke English. What I don't like about her thoughts on it was that she wouldn't teach my father German, so I never had the chance to be multilingual. :-(

John

Anna Gregoline | April 13, 2005
Wow, Mike, I guess you don't see America as that melting pot, huh? I'm sure we all have at least one ancestor to America that didn't speak English?

Lori Lancaster | April 13, 2005
[hidden by request]

Anna Gregoline | April 13, 2005
I'm curious about that statement but it's hard to shift through census data, although I find it very interesting.

(link)

To me, this is probably a money-saving issue, meaning they do not have to provide separate state government documents in Spanish, for example, or add any other languages to signs, etc. Seems a pretty sneaky way to avoid helping new immigrants and people learning the language. Even if you ARE learning English, it doesn't mean you'll easily be able to understand a tax document, for example.

But, there are no reasons given, so we can only speculate on WHY it was snuck in on the bill.

And I'm awfully puzzled at the viewpoint of "if you don't know the language, get out." Many people move here to get educations and to learn English, for one. America really IS so far from the "melting pot" and celebration of diversity it was preached at me when I was in school.

John E Gunter | April 13, 2005
I always liked the diversity advertising they did not to long ago, but hated the tolerance advertising. I always felt it should be acceptance advertising, not tolerance advertising.

To me tolerating something is putting up with it, not truly accepting it. When you put up with something, you really don't like what you are putting up with, you just go along with it because you have to. I know not everyone feels that way, but it just struck me as wrong. We should accept everyone for who they are, not tolerate them.

But yeah, the U.S. is no longer the melting pot it once was. I'll bet there aren't too many American's whose ancestors spoke the 'native' tongue of the country. Course, that was because those Americans who were here were doing their best to steal the land from those who were native to the country. :-D

I'm lucky though, I sit on both sides of that ancestral fence. ;-)

John

Jackie Mason | April 13, 2005
[hidden by request]

Michael Paul Cote | April 13, 2005
Saving money could be the main goal, but also political correctness. Let's face it, if you print government forms in English, French, Spanish and German, won't the members of other nationalities living in the area have the right to demand to have them printed in their native language also? I have a friend from Minnesota whose community is primarily Russian. Shouldn't they get info that they can read easily? Where do you draw the line? Keeping everyone happy would cost a fortune.
Regardless of how many immigrants come here, I think that English (or more technically correct - American) will always be the predominant language. Hence, I feel that anyone living here should speak and if possible, read the predominant language. I also think that there has to be resources made available for them to learn the language. I know that I would attempt to learn at least a smattering of any language of a country that I would be visiting, especially long term.
Also, if I'm not mistaken, the Norse (Vikings) actually discovered this continent.

Anna Gregoline | April 13, 2005
I always found the idea of continents being "discovered" really funny. I mean, it's not like there weren't people living here already.

Michael Paul Cote | April 14, 2005
True enough Anna, but the "Native" Americans didn't have to discover it because they were already here!

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
Riiight...isn't that what I just said? =)

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
Well, I think that what he means is that if the "Native" Americans had been so inclined (and/or technologically advanced enough), then they just might have gone and discovered... well, Hawaii, or something!

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
I mean, yes, the idea of "discovery" is a little silly when there are already people there -- but it isn't exactly like the Native Americans were advertising... ;D

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
The Native Americans had it right, dude. I don't think they saw any need to explore cause they had everything they needed - until it was taken away.

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
I won't argue with that... but then, so did the Europeans (have everything they needed)... didn't they?

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
But they felt persecuted, right? The Native Americans pre-invasion (and I secretly wish that all textbooks and writing that use the words "discovery" of America would change to "invaded" America) were just chillin' with nature.

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
I guess it was just a little more crowded in Europe, eh? ;-)
And -- not at all that I don't appreciate some good old Chief Seattle philosophy as much as the next person, but let's not romanticize the natives too much here -- don't forget that there was just as much a history of warring within the tribes and nations on this continent... we just don't know as much about the specifics of it.

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
All right, all right, rain on that too.

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
Just trying to keep it real, that's all. ;-)

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
Alrighty. I'm not trying to fight here, but it's hard not to feel that whatever I say, you post something contrary to say against it, but perhaps that's just your nature of trying to see the other side of things. It's just a little tiring sometimes, so on this one, I give up.

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
I thought we were just having a conversation -- but then, I keep making that mistake, too.

I have noticed, though, that you only seem to converse with me when I pose contrary statements -- rarely do you thank me for being in agreement with you.

post-edit: should have read ...rarely do you ever address me when I am in agreement with you.

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
See, I perceive that last comment as snippy when I was doing nothing of the sort. Sorry I offended, carry on.

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
I'm supposed to thank people for being in agreement with me? (That doesn't make sense to me, because we're usually dealing in Opinion-Land around here - and if I am to thank someone because they agree with me, it means they would have changed their opinion so that they could ally with me, when I expect nothing of the kind - not to mention I'm just as grateful for contrary opinions to talk about as ones where everyone agrees). I admit that it's hard for me to see everything as pleasant that you say to me, but I'm certainly trying. I'd say I'm giving a Herculean effort, given the circumstances. I'd like to think there is no ill will coming from you, but I have a lot of reason to think there is, so I'm fighting that. Are there unwritten rules I'm not following that is making my discourse with you unpleasant?

Sorry I said anything to begin with. You probably have a contrary statement against most comments, as I think you're trying to always see the other side, which is a good thing to do, especially on this board.

Kris Weberg | April 14, 2005
Of course, the Europeans didn't leave due to overcrowding, but because they figured the rest of the world would be an exciting source of gold, spices, and jewelry.

Basically, they did it all for the cash.

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
Not for the nookie?

And for the nookie.

Anna Gregoline | April 14, 2005
And silence leads me to think my assumptions are correct, and I've gotten that on several occaisons now. So I think I'll avoid discoursing with you as much as possible.

Kris Weberg | April 14, 2005
Well, Gaugin and John Smith might agree with Amy.

Meanwhile, a funny story about the principle "silence means assent." When Henry VIII wanted an annullment from his first wife, one of the Catherines, I believe, the Archbishop of Canterbury didn't grant it. Naturally, the Archbishop was arrested for treason. However, a wily man, he stopped the prosecution cold by noting that he hadn't said "No," he just hadn't issued any decree on the marriage's status. Since, under English law, silence meant assent, he stated that legally, he'd assented to the anullment even if he hadn't actually...well, granted it...he wasn't guilty of disobeying the king.

Of course, he was executed anyway, but still, funny story if you're not the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Kris Weberg | April 14, 2005
And I thank you both in advance for agreeing that the story is funny.

Amy Austin | April 14, 2005
 

Lori Lancaster | April 14, 2005
[hidden by request]

Scott Hardie | April 15, 2005
I feel like crying, but Kris's story has nothing to do with it.


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