English should be made the Official Language of the USA
English should be made the Official Language of the USA
The United States of America is home to people of diverse cultures, professions, religions, social beliefs, etc. And true to its name, it has been the global embodiment of ‘unity in diversity’. A major factor which has bound together the people of this nation is the English language. More than 95% of the citizens speak the language fluently and use it for all practical purposes, even if it is not their native tongue. The government too functions with English as the medium of communication. From the Constitution, to legal papers filed today, all official forms are documented in English. It is mandatory for any foreigner who wishes to enter the country, to have a good knowledge of the language. This being the scenario, it is indeed surprising to learn that English is not the official language of the USA. An official language not only simplifies many aspects of governance and administration, but also helps in creating a better sense of belonging for the citizens. Keeping this in mind, this paper aims to justify why English should be declared the official language of the nation.
The question of whether or not English should be given the ‘official language’ status has been debated upon since 1780. Right after independence, John Adams made a proposal to the Continental Congress in favor of the motion. In the subsequent years, many other leaders openly voiced similar opinions. In 1907, the President of the USA then, Theodore Roosevelt also showed the green signal for giving English the special legal status. Today, an amendment to the Constitution is proposed in almost every meeting of Congress, asking for English to be made the official language of the country. In spite of support from powerful people in the past and present, the motion is yet to pass. The problems hindering the success of the motion are as follows:
- English is seen as a threat to other languages spoken in the country – many people believe that people would be forced to abandon their native languages if English was declared the official language.
- Many leaders and human rights activists have openly disapproved the idea – according to them, it is undemocratic, and violates the First Amendment.
- The support from the people for the motion has been low – most of them are not even aware of the existence of such an issue, and they believe English to be the official language of the nation. Those who are informed on the issue are either indifferent, or have opinions related to the first problem.
The first problem is a consequence of the fact that non-native Americans feel anxious about preserving their cultures, traditions, and native languages. This insecurity has led many of them to appeal to the Human Rights councils against the motion. The root cause for their claims being powerful is that people who live in foreign lands feel a greater sense of bonding and belonging towards one another, and are willing to go to great extents to preserve their identities. In other words, they come together at the time of need to support any cause that will ensure this. And though the USA has encouraged the development of all languages, they fear that declaring English as the official language will gradually lead to a decline in the usage of their native languages (“The United States”, 2013).
The second problem addressed deals with a more serious issue concerning politics and ethics – native Americans have come together to form Human Rights councils with the strong belief that declaring English as the official language is against the Constitution and the ideologies of the nation. Councils such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stated that it would be undemocratic and a violation of the First amendment, to declare English as the official language. These groups have both political and people backing. They have a strong belief system which has resisted the motion stubbornly, and will continue to do so (“Should English”, 2013).
The third problem is a sad state of affairs as far as the people are concerned. It is shocking to know that a good majority of the Americans are unaware of this issue – in fact many of them believe that English is already the official language of their country, as shown by many survey results. However, an even more pressing problem is the attitude of the people who are aware of the issue. It is seen that a majority are indifferent towards the outcome. This can be attributed to two reasons: 1) they do not know the political and administrative convenience the motion, if successful, would lead to. 2) They feel that helping the government with solutions is not their job. The first reason can be taken care of with more awareness campaigns, but the convincing the people who fall in the latter category does not look very hopeful. (“Resolved, that”, 2013)
The three main problems analyzed above are all interlinked. It is obvious that lack of awareness is a major in each of the cases, which can be overcome with focused effort over time. Awareness must start from political issues that are concerned with the motion, and must go on to show people that there is nothing to be afraid of, if English is made the official language of the nation. In order to do this, the basic fact that an official language does not hinder everyday life, must be understood. It is merely for the convenience of the government, and does not have any hidden motives of eliminating other languages. Also, organizations like the ACLU must take it upon themselves to take the motion forward, rather than prove to be an obstacle to it. After all, their claims of it being undemocratic do not hold water beyond a point. There are no laws against using other languages inside the country, only that English will be given a special legal status. Once this is understood by the people, and Human Rights councils are willing to lend their support for the motion, the case is almost complete. What remains is persuading the people who are the cause of the third problem. Well, strictly speaking, even if they refuse to participate, the motion could be successful, but as a democracy and a nation which moves forward with its people, it is important to convince them as well. And to do that, one can only implore its citizens to be more responsible, and take pride in being a part of the nation that the rest of the world looks up to.
The Pew Research Center recently conducted a global survey consisting of questions pertaining to important political, social, and economic trends that move the world today. One of the questions addressed was the importance of learning English. Results showed that almost all countries unanimously nodded in favor of the notion – English is mandatory for anyone who wishes to be successful in the global arena. In fact most agreed that English has risen to the status of being an international language as it is the medium of communication in all walks of life beginning from the field of entertainment, to the field of Science, and to even the field of popular music. This opinion is well supported by the fact that the usage of English has been increasing exponentially across the globe. This being the scenario, it is shocking and depressing to note that there has been a significant drop in the usage of the language in the United States of America [“Why the U.S. needs”, 2013]. Hence it is high time the USA made the required changes to preserve its native language. With that end in mind, English should be declared the official language of the USA immediately. This paper deals with the solutions and the most viable course of action to overcome the problems posing as a hindrance to this cause.
Tackling any problem involves a deep understanding of the root causes. In this case, the main reason for the USA not having declared an official language is simple – anti-American activists, along with some Human Rights activists have taken it upon themselves to go against the establishment of English as the official language. This is because majority of non-native Americans see English as a threat to their own languages. Hence a major part of the solution must lie in convincing these people otherwise (“Why English is”, 2013). To begin with, citizens must create an awareness movement and talk some sense into powerful organizations such as the Modern Language Association (MLA), American Civil Liberties Union, etc. which stand in the way of the cause. Ironically, it is organizations which exist to promote English, which call the language racist, homophobic, and chauvinistic (“Why English is”, 2013). Nevertheless, many dedicated and responsible American citizens have come together to campaign, and speak out in favor of English. In fact there is a whole website called USEnglish.org, which is dedicated for this purpose. It contains all the statistics, latest updates, and events pertaining to the issue. It also has provisions for voicing people’s opinions to the State representatives. There are options to participate in public surveys, sign petitions, sell stickers, etc. Hence most part of the solution lies in taking its cue and joining forces together, to rally across the nation as a massive, united movement (“Making English” – U.S. English, 2013). The electronic media can be used as the main tool for advertising this site and pooling in people. The various advantages associated with this solution are analyzed below.
Today, the electronic media is the most powerful form of communication. Even people, who do not read newspapers, keep themselves up-to-date with current affairs through Twitter, Facebook, and other social networking sites. If a catchy article can be posted, say on Facebook, it is bound to get shared. This will bring to the attention of people across the nation, of the existence of such as issue. Now if the article is very passionate yet logical, any average person would want to follow up on the issue.
Once a significant number of people have been roped in, it is simpler to take the movement forward. The second major advantage of the solution lies in the number of people participating: more the number, more the attention. Also, it is expected that at least 70% of the people who visit the site and are convinced about the movement, will definitely write letters to the federal representatives (“Making English” – U.S. English, 2013). Further, requests for stands from political candidates will evoke better results. The government is bound to take note of the rising upheaval from the people with respect to this issue, and will be forced to take necessary action.
The third advantage of this solution is that it brings the people of the nation together. It is a solution which is built on the unification of all citizens without discrimination based on race, color, religion, culture, etc. Just as English has been a great bonding factor for the people of the country, this movement will bring them closer. Fighting for a cause with full determination, and making the change happen, is a moment of great hope and success for the country. This sense of belonging towards one another and the nation as a whole will make the United States of America stronger than ever. After all, the power of unity, along with unyielding persistence has worked wonders in the past.
The issue of whether English should be made the official language of the USA has been debated upon for a long time now. Though people from all over the world have acknowledged the importance of the English language and taken it upon themselves to give it more preference in their respective countries, it is saddening to note that English is neglected in the USA, where it is the native tongue for the majority. It is only now that the Americans have woken up to this issue, and are the initiative to preserve their native language. It has been a gradual, yet successful movement so far. The establishment of the USEnglish.org website has worked quick miracles – the awareness now reaches more people. Using this as the key, and grabbing media attention using electronic tools such as Facebook, is the perfect course of action for success. As more people get to know that their country does not have an official language, as they get to see the decline of English in their country, in the form of statistics, it can be expected with good reason that people will come together in favor of declaring English as the official language of the USA.
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