Thursday, July 24, 2008

Bi-Lingual Nation?

Bilingualism hasn’t been in the news recently, but it’s still there. We see it in many official announcements and in stores. If you go into Lowe’s you see signs in both English and Spanish, and you hear announcements over the PA system in Spanish. The question is, is it appropriate to make the US a bilingual nation?

The history of bilingual nations isn’t always pretty. There have been problems in Canada and in Belgium, both of which are officially bilingual. One thing that has helped unite a very diverse United States is one language. I see no reason to change that.

Some would say that there are so many Spanish speakers in the US that we should accommodate them. First of all, 12 million are here illegally, so I can’t see any reason to become bilingual for that reason. Second, having a bilingual nation will further divide us, which we don’t need. Third, it will reduce the incentive to the Latinos to learn English and assimilate. English will be the language necessary to succeed for the foreseeable future, so a lack of English proficiency would be a hindrance to fulfilling the American dream.

Under our present one language situation, immigrants often retain many of their cultural traditions, but learn the common language of English, strive to get an education, and generally by the second or third generation feel a part of the mainstream US. We see that with most Latinos, so why hinder that process my giving them little incentive to learn English? All we would be doing is creating an underclass of Spanish-speakers.

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