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  #1  
Old 05-06-2012, 08:45 AM
What the .... ?!?! What the .... ?!?! is offline
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English as the "official" language of the US

I know, at least I don't think, that it ever was. I'm wondering about requirements that other languages be used.

What landmark legislation or court cases started the ball rolling? Federal or state.

Initially and even now, are there distinctions between the need for other languages in order to assist citizens vs other residents?

How about efforts to restrict the official use of other languages that have been successful or were struck down by the courts?
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  #2  
Old 05-06-2012, 10:45 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is offline
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In 1849 the California Constitution established English and Spanish as the official languages of California. It was rewritten in 1879 to be English-only.
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2012, 02:06 PM
FeAudrey FeAudrey is offline
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You have to "Be able to read, write, and speak English ..." to take out U.S. citizenship:

http://www.uscis.gov/portal/site/usc...00b92ca60aRCRD
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  #4  
Old 05-06-2012, 03:45 PM
Donnerwetter Donnerwetter is offline
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There is an interesting article about this topic on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langua...acto_bilingual
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  #5  
Old 05-06-2012, 05:57 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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Well, serious question: if (big if!) the legislature in California, for whatever reason, wrote and passed a bill that was written en espanol, and the Governor signed it, would there be any real constitutional reason for it to be overruled by the courts solely because of its language? (Maybe just a pointless proclamation, say, declaring Cinco de Mayo an honorary holiday?) Sure, some people would object, but is it constitutionally dubious?
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:22 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Well, serious question: if (big if!) the legislature in California, for whatever reason, wrote and passed a bill that was written en espanol, and the Governor signed it, would there be any real constitutional reason for it to be overruled by the courts solely because of its language? (Maybe just a pointless proclamation, say, declaring Cinco de Mayo an honorary holiday?) Sure, some people would object, but is it constitutionally dubious?
In California, I'd say there'd be a strong case that the law was unconstitutional. The California constitution says "English is the official language of the State of California." and "The Legislature shall make no law which diminishes or ignores the role of English as the common language of the State of California." I'd say there's a reasonable argument that the Legislature enacting a law in Spanish is diminishing and ignoring English and such a law would therefore be unconstitutional.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:30 PM
gatorslap gatorslap is offline
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Originally Posted by Trinopus View Post
Well, serious question: if (big if!) the legislature in California, for whatever reason, wrote and passed a bill that was written en espanol, and the Governor signed it, would there be any real constitutional reason for it to be overruled by the courts solely because of its language? (Maybe just a pointless proclamation, say, declaring Cinco de Mayo an honorary holiday?) Sure, some people would object, but is it constitutionally dubious?
The California Constitution specifies that all legislation must be in English (and plain English at that). So yes, it would be overruled. Although, if it was a pointless proclamation, there'd be nothing to overrule.

About 100 years ago, a state law banning fellatio and cunnilingus was struck down by the CA Supreme Court on the grounds that "fellatio" and "cunnilingus" were not words of ordinary use in the English language.
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Old 05-06-2012, 10:55 PM
Trinopus Trinopus is offline
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. . . About 100 years ago, a state law banning fellatio and cunnilingus was struck down by the CA Supreme Court on the grounds that "fellatio" and "cunnilingus" were not words of ordinary use in the English language.
Holy merde! I don't know whether to laugh, cry, vomit, or find someone friendly and engage in the appropriate act! Any chance of a cite?

(Not at all because I doubt you; just that I want to bookmark that one to my favorites list forever!)
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  #9  
Old 05-06-2012, 11:28 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Holy merde! I don't know whether to laugh, cry, vomit, or find someone friendly and engage in the appropriate act! Any chance of a cite?
Described at length in People v. Catelli (1991):
Quote:
The initial California statute passed in 1915, Penal Code section 288a, criminalized "[t]he acts technically known as fellatio and cunnilingus." (Stats. 1915, ch. 586, 1, p. 1022.) This statute was found to be unconstitutional not because the word fellatio failed to describe the prohibited conduct but because it was not in the English language as required by former article IV, section 24 of the California Constitution, its usage was not in the common parlance and it was therefore uncertain in meaning to a person of common understanding, presumably those persons who might be expected to violate the section. (In re Lockett (1919) 179 Cal. 581 [178 P. 134].) The Lockett court recognized that when foreign words had by usage become anglicized and were readily understood by reference to "lexicons," "in the interests of decency, courts should sanction such words, euphemistically employed to describe offenses against morality, thus avoiding the bald nastiness involved in the use of the vernacular, ..." (Id. at p. 583.) The word fellatio, while sufficiently euphemistic, had not become sufficiently anglicized that it was a part of the English language with a meaning acquired by such use. The Lockett court observed the word "does not occur in any of the English dictionaries in common use" (at pp. 584-585), but was used and defined only in works such as Stedman's Medical Dictionary, Dorland's American Illustrated Dictionary, Havelock Ellis's "Studies in the Psychology of Sex," and Krafft-Ebing's "Psychopathia Sexualis." The common man, not being exposed to such literature could not be expected to know what conduct was proscribed.

While modesty of the times doubtless prevented the Legislature from defining the crime more clinically, presumably such members of the Legislature in 1915 had access to the medical texts and literature available to the courts if not the man of common understanding. It is reasonable to assume that to avoid the "bald nastiness involved in the use of the vernacular" (In re Lockett, supra, 179 Cal. at p. 583), the Legislature "euphemistically employed" fellatio to describe this offense against morality. In such texts and dictionaries of that era, the term itself had a definitive meaning and that was oral stimulation, euphemistically speaking, of the penis.

Since its original enactment in 1915, section 288a has been amended or reenacted 15 times.

In 1921 the statute was rewritten to prohibit sex perversion, defined as "the act of copulating the mouth of one person with the sexual organ of another...." (Stats. 1921, ch. 848, 2, p. 1633.) In People v. Parsons (1927) 82 Cal.App. 17, 19 [255 P. 212], the court rejected a contention that the new statute was vague, uncertain or indefinite. Any person who participated in the proscribed conduct was guilty of the offense, whether as an active or passive participant, thereby putting to rest the active passive concern of the Lockett court.
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  #10  
Old 05-07-2012, 07:50 AM
What the .... ?!?! What the .... ?!?! is offline
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Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
There is an interesting article about this topic on Wikipedia:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Langua...acto_bilingual
Thanks! I was surprised to see that 27 states are shown with English as the "official" language..... including California! I'm sure that the specifics vary from state to state.

There is also a link to an English-only Movement page where I found this..

"On August 11, 2000, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 13166, "Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency." The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to examine the services they provide, identify any need for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and develop and implement a system to provide those services so LEP persons can have meaningful access to them."

That's the closest thing I could find to any Federal involvement. I would think that some of the states have applied English-only as regards voting and that the Feds would not approve and have done something about it. Anybody?
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  #11  
Old 05-07-2012, 08:24 AM
Donnerwetter Donnerwetter is offline
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There is an interesting case in Arizona:

Quote:
Judge Orders Arizona Candidate Struck From Ballot
By MARC LACEY
Published: January 26, 2012

Lawyers for Alejandrina Cabrera, a candidate for the City Council in the border community of San Luis, Ariz., said Thursday that they might appeal to the Arizona Supreme Court a lower-court ruling that Ms. Cabrera be removed from the ballot because she did not speak English proficiently.

[...]
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/us...sh-skills.html
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  #12  
Old 05-07-2012, 09:31 AM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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It makes sense for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that English is the common language of business in the USA. Another is that it reduces cost to government to print laws, ballots, etc. in only one language.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:43 AM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
There is an interesting case in Arizona:


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/27/us...sh-skills.html
The ruling was upheld by the Arizona Supreme Court.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/0...n_1277402.html

Of course, from a General Semantics point of view, that all democracies should be monolingual. GS holds there is no such thing as an exact translation from one language to another. This poses obvious problems where laws are supposed to apply to everyone and statements by government officials should be understood by all citizens.

Of course, if you don't want democratic government, then there isn't a problem.
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  #14  
Old 05-07-2012, 10:55 AM
Sheriru Sheriru is offline
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An interesting topic here...
As described in earlier posts, you must speak English to become a U.S. resident.
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  #15  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:00 AM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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Originally Posted by Clothahump View Post
It makes sense for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that English is the common language of business in the USA. Another is that it reduces cost to government to print laws, ballots, etc. in only one language.
The thing s, justify why Congress could designate an official national language, as opposed to a language standard for given purposes (e.g., naturalization, publication of statutes, conduct of Federal court sessions, etc.). I'm not being a smart-alec here -- if a given business or community desires to use a minority language, whose ox is gored? I suppose you could justify it under Interstate Commerce -- that stretches so far, anything will fit within it. The Tenth Amendment does still have some meaning.

On the other hand, a given state is free to adopt an official language, so long as they do not use it to deny civil rights to a minority.
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  #16  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:01 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Of course, from a General Semantics point of view, that all democracies should be monolingual. GS holds there is no such thing as an exact translation from one language to another. This poses obvious problems where laws are supposed to apply to everyone and statements by government officials should be understood by all citizens.

Of course, if you don't want democratic government, then there isn't a problem.
So in a democratic government where some Americans speak English and some Americans speak Spanish, the government should use English and Spanish in order to be understood by all citizens.

That's the problem I have with these English only arguments. All of them beg the question. Why do you have to speak English to be an American? Spanish speaking people are just as able to be American as English speaking people. So are French speaking people or Latvian speaking people or Urdu speaking people. Democracy has nothing to do with the English language.

The government shouldn't set a language and then tell the American people they have to speak that language. The government should look at what languages the American people are speaking and then the government should use those languages whatever they may be. Americans should be as free to choose their own language as they are to choose their own religion.
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  #17  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:07 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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On the other hand, a given state is free to adopt an official language, so long as they do not use it to deny civil rights to a minority.
I think you can make the argument that having an official language is the equivalent of having separate but equal schools. No matter what you say in theory, the practice in the real world is going to put some people at a disadvantage. Establishing one language as the official language will inevitably deny civil rights to the people who use a different language.

Would anyone dispute that if California adopted Spanish as its official language and enacted all laws in Spanish that this would put English speakers at a disadvantage and restrict their civil rights? So why should California do the same thing to Spanish speakers by adopted English as its official language? If people in California use English and Spanish then the government in California should use English and Spanish.
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Old 05-07-2012, 12:15 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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So in a democratic government where some Americans speak English and some Americans speak Spanish, the government should use English and Spanish in order to be understood by all citizens.

That's the problem I have with these English only arguments. All of them beg the question. Why do you have to speak English to be an American? Spanish speaking people are just as able to be American as English speaking people. So are French speaking people or Latvian speaking people or Urdu speaking people. Democracy has nothing to do with the English language.

The government shouldn't set a language and then tell the American people they have to speak that language. The government should look at what languages the American people are speaking and then the government should use those languages whatever they may be. Americans should be as free to choose their own language as they are to choose their own religion.
What Is so difficult for you to understand? If you want to be an American Citizen then you need to understand English. You have to understand Spanish to become a Mexican citizen. You can have legal residents, but not a citizens who don't understand the lanuage. Language isn't the same as religion. Language is the medium by which government is conducted. If you don't understand the medium then you can't participate in government.

You seem to think that government should be conducted in English is a recent invention. If you want a Spanish speaking government, then you have a whole continent to choose from.

Last edited by JoelUpchurch; 05-07-2012 at 12:18 PM..
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  #19  
Old 05-07-2012, 12:47 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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What Is so difficult for you to understand? If you want to be an American Citizen then you need to understand English. You have to understand Spanish to become a Mexican citizen. You can have legal residents, but not a citizens who don't understand the lanuage. Language isn't the same as religion. Language is the medium by which government is conducted. If you don't understand the medium then you can't participate in government.

You seem to think that government should be conducted in English is a recent invention. If you want a Spanish speaking government, then you have a whole continent to choose from.
You forgot to make an argument just jumped to the conclusions.
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Old 05-07-2012, 01:24 PM
gatorslap gatorslap is offline
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What Is so difficult for you to understand? If you want to be an American Citizen then you need to understand English.
To become a naturalized citizen, yes. Natural-born citizens can speak any language.

I do not understand why some people are against the use of Hawaiian in Hawaii, French in Louisiana and northern Maine, Inuit in Alaska, German in North Dakota, or Spanish in New Mexico.

Quote:
You have to understand Spanish to become a Mexican citizen.
Cite? That's not my understanding. Mexico does not have a de jure official language. In terms of communications, documents, etc. the Mexican government recognizes several indigenous languages in addition to Spanish. As far as I can tell, there is no language proficiency requirement to become a Mexican citizen. They're not going to give you those documents in English, but you don't have to prove language ability. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Quote:
You can have legal residents, but not a citizens who don't understand the lanuage. Language isn't the same as religion. Language is the medium by which government is conducted. If you don't understand the medium then you can't participate in government.
There are plenty of countries with more than one language. Canada seems to do fine with both English and French. Even the UK recognizes Welsh and Scottish Gaelic.
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  #21  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:37 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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If you want to be an American Citizen then you need to understand English.
Why?
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  #22  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:48 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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To become a naturalized citizen, yes. Natural-born citizens can speak any language.

I do not understand why some people are against the use of Hawaiian in Hawaii, French in Louisiana and northern Maine, Inuit in Alaska, German in North Dakota, or Spanish in New Mexico.
Because you can't have a polyglot democracy. Citizens needs to be able to talk to each other and their elected representatives. If you want a empire where subjects are isolated from their government and other subjects then a polyglot is fine. People who actually encourage people not to be able to communicate which each other are enemies of democracy. The EU bureaucrats are in the process of converting Europe from a group of sovereign democratic nations into a polyglot empire of subjects. What better way to destroy democracy than reduce the ability to communicate with each other. A more subtle of censorship.
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  #23  
Old 05-07-2012, 01:56 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Because you can't have a polyglot democracy.
Says who? Canada? Ireland? France? Spain? Switzerland? The European Union as a whole? India?
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  #24  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:02 PM
Broomstick Broomstick is offline
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An interesting topic here...
As described in earlier posts, you must speak English to become a U.S. resident.
Despite that, there is no requirement that a person born here speak English at all to be considered a full citizen.
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:10 PM
Saltire Saltire is offline
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Under the Help America Vote Act, election materials need to be provided in alternate languages if the most recent Census shows a certain percentage of a particular county (or parish, I suppose, in LA) are solely proficient in that language.

Back when I worked elections a decade ago, that meant King County needed to have Chinese language ballots and materials, while Yakima County needed Spanish.
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  #26  
Old 05-07-2012, 04:04 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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I think you can make the argument that having an official language is the equivalent of having separate but equal schools. No matter what you say in theory, the practice in the real world is going to put some people at a disadvantage. Establishing one language as the official language will inevitably deny civil rights to the people who use a different language.

Would anyone dispute that if California adopted Spanish as its official language and enacted all laws in Spanish that this would put English speakers at a disadvantage and restrict their civil rights? So why should California do the same thing to Spanish speakers by adopted English as its official language? If people in California use English and Spanish then the government in California should use English and Spanish.
That is why I added the "so long as" clause. If 83% of Dirty Butte Co., WY speaks English as primary language, and the other 17% have Spanish, Cheyenne, or Vietnamese as primary language but are fluent in English, nobody is harmed by that county making it official. If Los Pies Dolorosos Co TX is 47% Spanish speaking, with 20% effectively monolingual, that's a totally different story.

Last edited by Polycarp; 05-07-2012 at 04:04 PM..
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:21 PM
Blakeyrat Blakeyrat is offline
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Under the Help America Vote Act, election materials need to be provided in alternate languages if the most recent Census shows a certain percentage of a particular county (or parish, I suppose, in LA) are solely proficient in that language.

Back when I worked elections a decade ago, that meant King County needed to have Chinese language ballots and materials, while Yakima County needed Spanish.
I was pleased to see on that Wikipedia page that not only does Washington State not have an official language, we're a "English Plus" state that specifically acknowledges the need to provide government materials in the language spoken by the citizen.

BTW that must have been an interesting job. I wager Snohomish County now has a high demand for Russian ballots.
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  #28  
Old 05-07-2012, 04:26 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Because you can't have a polyglot democracy. Citizens needs to be able to talk to each other and their elected representatives. If you want a empire where subjects are isolated from their government and other subjects then a polyglot is fine. People who actually encourage people not to be able to communicate which each other are enemies of democracy. The EU bureaucrats are in the process of converting Europe from a group of sovereign democratic nations into a polyglot empire of subjects. What better way to destroy democracy than reduce the ability to communicate with each other. A more subtle of censorship.
And how is picking one language and making it the only official language going to help? It's going to have the exact opposite effect - you're now making people more isolated from their government if they don't speak the official language.
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:55 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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And how is picking one language and making it the only official language going to help? It's going to have the exact opposite effect - you're now making people more isolated from their government if they don't speak the official language.
Exactly how many people who are born and raised in the United States, do you think, don't speak English? Naturalized citizens are required to read to read write and speak English.
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:16 PM
gatorslap gatorslap is offline
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Exactly how many people who are born and raised in the United States, do you think, don't speak English? Naturalized citizens are required to read to read write and speak English.
Do you support Basque separatism? Do you believe Quebec should be its own country? How about Wales? In India there are 30 languages with at least 1 million speakers -- should it be split into 30 countries?
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:23 PM
suranyi suranyi is offline
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Exactly how many people who are born and raised in the United States, do you think, don't speak English? Naturalized citizens are required to read to read write and speak English.
1. More than you think.

2. Required to barely read, write and speak English, more like. I know lots of naturalized citizens who can hardly speak English at all.
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Old 05-07-2012, 06:28 PM
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I think you can make the argument that having an official language is the equivalent of having separate but equal schools.
I don't think so. I can learn English or Spanish. I can't learn to be black, white, or asian.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:36 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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Says who? Canada? Ireland? France? Spain? Switzerland? The European Union as a whole? India?
These are your examples showing that polyglot democracy is a good idea? Have you never heard of the Quebec separatist movement? The ETA? Switzerland is a loose confederation and I think you will find there is little mixture of languages within cantons. French is official language of France.

I've already stated my opinion that the EU is trying to destroy democracy in the Europe.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:49 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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1. More than you think.

2. Required to barely read, write and speak English, more like. I know lots of naturalized citizens who can hardly speak English at all.
That fact that you can't supply a number for #1 is a demonstration of the weakness of your arguments.

The English requirements for citizenship are not very strong. Do you deduce from that that all of the hundreds of languages that immigrants speak should be supported also? Do you actually think that reducing the United States to a tower of babel will strengthen democracy.
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Old 05-07-2012, 09:52 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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These are your examples showing that polyglot democracy is a good idea? Have you never heard of the Quebec separatist movement? The ETA? Switzerland is a loose confederation and I think you will find there is little mixture of languages within cantons.
How have they destroyed democracy?

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I've already stated my opinion that the EU is trying to destroy democracy in the Europe.
Mmkay.
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  #36  
Old 05-07-2012, 09:58 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Exactly how many people who are born and raised in the United States, do you think, don't speak English?
Why is that an issue? Yes, the majority of Americans speak English - just like the majority of Americans are Christian and the majority of Americans are white. But that doesn't mean that you have to be a white Christian English-speaker to be an American. Americans can have different languages just like they can have different religions and different races.

To me, what keeps a democracy strong is the willingness to allow differences to exist.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 05-07-2012 at 09:58 PM..
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  #37  
Old 05-07-2012, 10:07 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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How have they destroyed democracy?
Read my previous posts. I would also suggest reading S. I. Hayakawa's book, "Language in Thought and Action".
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:13 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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That's it? A reading assignment? Citing someone's opinion is not like citing evidence or fact. Having heard some of what Hayakawa has had to say, I have no interest in reading further. Why don't you make your citation into argument if you think it's so good?

And your previous posts do not establish either facts or reasoning to establish that democracy has been destroyed anywhere by multilingualism. As I pointed out before, your statements are nothing but conclusions. Bring an actual argument.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:25 PM
JoelUpchurch JoelUpchurch is offline
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Do you support Basque separatism? Do you believe Quebec should be its own country? How about Wales? In India there are 30 languages with at least 1 million speakers -- should it be split into 30 countries?
The answer for the Basque and Quebec are yes. Wales has also no one that doesn't speak English, so no.

Do you actually think the current situation in India is actually good. If you don't speak Hindi, then you are a second class citizen.

Look how much blood has been shed in Africa trying to force people who don't have a common language and culture to live under a single flag.
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Old 05-07-2012, 10:40 PM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Originally Posted by JoelUpchurch View Post
Do you actually think the current situation in India is actually good. If you don't speak Hindi, then you are a second class citizen.
You have no idea what you're talking about.
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  #41  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:37 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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I think this thread was accidentally closed during the move from General Questions.
I am re-opening it.
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  #42  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:44 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Originally Posted by JoelUpchurch View Post
Because you can't have a polyglot democracy.
Utter nonsense.

Multiple democratic countries currently function quite nicely with large segments of the population speaking separate languages.
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  #43  
Old 05-07-2012, 11:50 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by JoelUpchurch View Post
Do you actually think the current situation in India is actually good. If you don't speak Hindi, then you are a second class citizen.

Look how much blood has been shed in Africa trying to force people who don't have a common language and culture to live under a single flag.
And we should follow these examples? Make non-English speakers second class citizens so we can have the same problems these countries have?
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:02 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Originally Posted by JoelUpchurch View Post
Look how much blood has been shed in Africa trying to force people who don't have a common language and culture to live under a single flag.
Apples and oranges. The conflicts in Africa, (and the Middle East), that resulted from colonial powers drawing arbitrary lines to include already warring ethnic groups while dividing other ethnic groups are the result of imposing national lines on people who had no control over where the lines were drawn.

This has nothing to do with whether a people that chooses to unite under one banner needs to speak to each other in the same language. Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, and India have all survived quite nicely despite having multiple languages. Have there been conflicts between the various peoples divided by a language? Sure. Just as there have been conflicts between peoples of the same nation over the allocation or resources, trade, finance, religion, and other issues. Has it led to the actual dissolution of any of those nations? No.
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Old 05-08-2012, 12:08 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by JoelUpchurch View Post
Do you actually think the current situation in India is actually good. If you don't speak Hindi, then you are a second class citizen.
My understanding is, in India, if you don't speak English, you're a second-class citizen.

Last edited by BrainGlutton; 05-08-2012 at 12:08 AM..
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  #46  
Old 05-08-2012, 02:14 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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Originally Posted by BrainGlutton View Post
My understanding is, in India, if you don't speak English, you're a second-class citizen.
My understanding (as a non-Indian) is that English is the only neutral language everyone in India can somewhat agree on. Other languages like Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, Tamil, Gujarati, Assamese, etc all have local populations. Using any of these languages implies a connection with (and preference for) that population. If a Telugu speaker and a Marathi speaker meet, for example, do they talk in Telugu or Marathi? Either language is giving one of them the "advantage" in the dialogue. English, as an outside language, avoids this favoritism. It's nobody's first language and everybody's second language. So everyone in India can speak English on an equal footing.

Maybe that's what we need to do in the United States. Avoid the controversy over English and Spanish by adopting Latin as our official language.

Last edited by Little Nemo; 05-08-2012 at 02:15 AM..
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:05 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by Little Nemo View Post
Maybe that's what we need to do in the United States. Avoid the controversy over English and Spanish by adopting Latin as our official language.
Old-fashioned. Let's go with Lojban! (It's like Esperanto only nerdier.)
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:36 AM
Donnerwetter Donnerwetter is offline
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Originally Posted by tomndebb View Post
Apples and oranges. The conflicts in Africa, (and the Middle East), that resulted from colonial powers drawing arbitrary lines to include already warring ethnic groups while dividing other ethnic groups are the result of imposing national lines on people who had no control over where the lines were drawn.

This has nothing to do with whether a people that chooses to unite under one banner needs to speak to each other in the same language. Switzerland, Belgium, Canada, and India have all survived quite nicely despite having multiple languages. Have there been conflicts between the various peoples divided by a language? Sure. Just as there have been conflicts between peoples of the same nation over the allocation or resources, trade, finance, religion, and other issues. Has it led to the actual dissolution of any of those nations? No.
In the case of Belgium, many would argue that the dissolution of the country is imminent, language issues being the central concern.

And I have read that in Quebec, Canada, they have some sort of a language police which fines restaurant owners who put up menus in English only.

The Swiss are doing all right, I guess.
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:37 AM
Nava Nava is offline
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Originally Posted by JoelUpchurch View Post
What Is so difficult for you to understand? If you want to be an American Citizen then you need to understand English.
No, you need to understand English (or learn the answers to the citizenship exam by rote without understanding them, as my aunt did) in order to become an American citizen. You do not need to understand English in order to be an American citizen.

The requirement is higher to join the group than to belong to it.



And as someone who grew up under threat of death by those people you support, please imagine for a moment we're in the Pit, eh?

Last edited by Nava; 05-08-2012 at 03:39 AM..
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  #50  
Old 05-08-2012, 08:57 AM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
In the case of Belgium, many would argue that the dissolution of the country is imminent, language issues being the central concern.
Get back to us when the Walloons or Flemings actually raise their own militias. Language is not the divider in Belgium; it is the cultural marker to identify which side one is on. The split is based on inequalities of wealth that originated in the Industrial Revolution with some reversals at the coming of the Information Age.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Donnerwetter View Post
And I have read that in Quebec, Canada, they have some sort of a language police which fines restaurant owners who put up menus in English only.
Language is an issue in Quebec, (although appealing to 30 year old tantrums hardly makes your point), but it is, again, a cultural marker for economic divisions, not a point that is actually tearing apart the country.
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