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The English national language of the United States of America.
April 21, 2009
Should we legally establish an English national language here?
Vic Biorseth, Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Maybe; it shouldn’t really be necessary, except in its own self-defense. Political correctness seems to be constantly threatening it and forcing all sorts of secondary and tertiary languages on us. Everything you buy comes with two or three or more non-English sets of instructions or descriptions on the box or in the assembly instructions. Even aisles in the local grocery store have Spanish (I think) signs telling you where to find the coffee. Phone auto-instructions for every business you can call say to press one for English, 2 for Spanish 3 for … , etc.
Once upon a time, like when my grandmother became a citizen, you had to learn English first. Along with American history. That was then, this is now. Nowadays our sitting government wants even those aliens who are here illegally to have their butts kissed in whatever language they choose. They seem to have more rights, protections and government sympathy than the rest of us, who seem to be despised in comparison.
The great Greek era produced a sort of mega-culture far beyond boundaries of ancient Greece, in which the Greek language became the dominant language of the world. Greece gave us the ordered thought and disciplined method in the quest for truth, or, at least the first and best examples of it to be found in recorded language. The conquests of Alexander the Great brought Greek culture to the outside world. During that era, whatever native language anyone spoke, they also came to understand at least a smattering of Greek just as a normal and natural part of life. The most educated men were educated in Greek first, other subjects second, because the other subjects were usually taught in Greek.
Then the Romans came on the scene, conquered all that the Greeks had conquered before, and more. Now, the world mega-culture began to move toward Latin as the major international language, eventually universally understood, at least partially, everywhere from palaces to market places to roadside way stations protecting trade routes for caravans. Again, as with Greek, Latin became the language of higher education; to be highly educated in anything at all, one must first be educated in Latin. In Western Culture, this meant even learning to read or write in another language – any other language – other than Latin required learning Latin first, because it was the language of all formal teaching.
Where earlier trade and barter were haphazard, first, Greek coinage became a sort of universal currency, to eventually be overtaken by Roman coinage. Everybody knew what a coin with Caesar’s image on it was, and it had value everywhere.
Following the disastrous wars of the Reformation, the Holy Roman empire was, essentially, no more. There were various lesser empires; the French, the English, the Dutch, the Spanish, the Portuguese, German, Austro-Hungarian, etc., etc., etc. Each left its imprint, its language and its currency in use in segments of the globe. French came to be the common language of European nobility and aristocracy, but in general, at least for several centuries, Latin remained the common language of education and of science, even when it was no longer a spoken language of any nation.
Now, America never really built an empire, except for an economic one. The whole world both purchased from and sold to the huge American economic engine. In two great World Wars America proved her military prowess, but kept no countries in which she was victorious in war. Ultimate victory in the Cold War left America the undisputed world super-power, and the clearly recognized economic giant of the world.
As the dominant nation on the world scene in modern times, it seems to me natural and normal that other people in other nations should understand at least a smattering of English, just as in the earlier days of Greek and Latin dominance. Much is made of the fact that almost every foreigner one encounters in foreign lands speaks some English, yet Americans speak little or no other languages.
That is normal. That is as it should be. Why should it be any different?
Why should it be normal for me, an American citizen, to speak Spanish?Nice, maybe, but normal? I don’t think so.
It seems that France has a national language of French, and nobody seems to have a problem with that. And, it seems that Spain has a national language of Spanish, and nobody seems to have a problem with that. Even Quebec has a Provincial language of French, is quite ferocious about it, and nobody seems to have a problem with that, either.
So, exactly how is it arrogant of Americans to expect other people who are here to understand any English, and, to not particularly care to learn, say, French?
I just don’t get it.
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