From Our Readers: English Only? Look To The Past

Aug 3, 2012

Many of our commenters look to America's rich history of immigration in order to form their opinion of the 'English-Only' debate. Interestingly enough, this approach facilitated conclusions on both sides of the issue.

"John G" believes that, "Society, not law, determines the specific language used."

He writes:

"Our nation has been through many waves of immigration. Every previous generation has complained about the Norwegian, or Polish, or Irish that came along with those waves. In every case, the next generation after the wave, came to use the same language as the rest of the nation...We are a nation of immigrants, and always will be."

Recalling the multilingualism of her Lithuanian grandmother, "Ellen Whitton" tells how her grandparents opened a dry goods store after emigrating to the United States:

"She earned the nickname 'League of Nations' because she was able to converse with her customers in all of the languages of the many immigrant communities their shop served. Unfortunately her children only spoke English. The loss is my generation's."

"Douglas Vergara" makes a different argument entirely. The son of Puerto Rican immigrants, he argues that E Pluribus Unum includes language:

"I feel that we should all speak ONE national language and all laws, signs and books regarding government and services should be in English... We are one nation from many and that is what makes us strong. Our diversities and cumulative knowledge is what makes us strong. We are Americans first. Let us move as one, not divided by our various languages and nationalities and religious beliefs."

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