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Guest Editorial by Tommy Hummel

Whose Official Language?

“Speak English! This is America.” And so is Mexico, and Brazil, and Canada. They are all part of North America. We are the United States, and we are of America. And we are comprised of immigrants from many nations, many of whom did not speak English as their first language, and the only natives to this land certainly did not speak English either.

To anyone who is actually willing to study the issue, consider this: in all of language history, languages have not ever been able to change because of a government mandate. In World War II, Mussolini banned the use of the second-person plural distinction. As a result, people used it more. And today, despite the extreme efforts of a Fascist dictator, Italian retains the tu/vous distinction. During the Norman Conquest, French was the primary language, the language of the upper classes, but English continued to be used by everyone else, despite the insistence that French was the standard language, and English was considered a poor-man’s language. If we promote an English-only nation, the result will be that people will cling to their languages even more.

Will the English language change as a result of all of these blendings of languages? Of course. It will do so whether a law is in place or not. Language change is not only natural, it’s inevitable. In fact, the English language owes over eighty percent of its lexicon and grammar to the blending and merging of other languages.

So rather than support such a doctrine, I’d prefer to support the open exchange of ideas, languages, customs, and cultures. Such exchange is a remedy for ignorance and intolerance.

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