As opposed to popular belief, the United States of America has no official language. There have been several attempted proposals to make English the official and business language by the federal legislators, but each time the legislation does not pass. This is majorly brought by the fact that the country comprises of a large population of people with different language descents. According to (Cole n.p), these include Germans as the majority with a population of around 49.8 million, Irish with 35.8 million, Mexican with 31.8 million, English with 27.4 million and Italians with 17.6 million.
It was mostly argued that choosing English as the official language would seem racist and oppressive towards other language speaking communities. (Revees n.p) States that anti-American activists view the English language as oppressive and not democratic; that is, it fails to grant freedom to the weak in the society. However, using one official language, that is English which is the most popular and widely spoken in American and other nations, would unify Americans as one people.
Benefits of having English as the official language
According to (Revees n.p), English started its world dominance in the 1600 AD. It began as a lingua franca in the world of commerce when the United States was formed and became very successful in its military and economic power, giving English the success it has today as a lingua franca. Moreover, advanced technology and trade in the free market ensured that English would continue to be a dominant language, the main communication medium and a language of the democratic people. All major contributors to the economy including scholars, diplomats, and technology experts communicate in English.
In the (census n.p), the reports showed that 97.1% of individuals living in the US speak English. About 86% of the English speakers are monolingual. Clearly, the English speakers are a larger percentage by far. 13% of those who speak English and other languages have a greater population that can speak fluent or close to fluent English. Due to this fact, English as an official language would fit the American people.
Passing the law to make English the official language would encourage immigrants to learn the language in order to fit into the country’s social and economic systems. Learning the language would improve their lives since they would be able to carry out business transactions and order services with ease.
Passing the law would also save the country billions of dollars used to pay interpreters in various facilities like hospitals, courts, polling stations and work places. In 2000, the President of the time Bill Clinton signed into law an order that gave medical officers a responsibility to hire interpreters for patients who do not understand English at the officers’ expense.
There has been occurrence of deaths in cases that could have been avoided especially in incidences where medical facilitators, police officers and other emergency respondents could not communicate with the patients and their families.
Many immigrants are left out in various job opportunities when they cannot speak English. This is because, for them to interact with clients, they would require English as the basic language. Learning the language in the first place would give them a competitive advantage in the job market for them to utilize their intellectual or artistic skills.
Keeping up with the trend of having a population composed of multilingual groups is more likely to cause ethnic divisions, as compared to having one national language that is already popular amongst majority of the population. Furthermore, English is already a national and official language in most of the other countries in the world. Therefore, American immigrants are more likely familiar with the English language.
Enforcing English as the official American language will encourage the immigrants to learn the language in advance to coming to America. This will more likely give them an edge in navigating up the social ladder and moving from just immigrants to important people in the society. More than 50% of immigrants say that new immigrants will most likely learn English. Around 90% of total Hispanics in the US believe that eloquence is key to success in living the US and achieving the American dream.
Adopting English as the US official language will help maintain the identity of the American people, preserve the American cultural heritage and integrate the system of the government. This eliminates the element of ownership of the country’s cultural values from a particular ethnic group by combining the aggregate cultures and value into one that is liberalized to all. President Roosevelt said that the country should officially use English, the language that was used in the declaration of independence. The English language is important to the American people as it creates and preserves the national identity.
Adept English speaking migrants in the USA are more likely to gain financial benefits than those who are not. This is because all major businesses and majority of the small enterprises are run in English. It is a fact according to (Daniel n.p) that immigrants in America who are eloquent in English earn 55% more income than employees born in America.
According to (Daniel n.p), research illustrates that language is the main challenge facing education for most people. Students with the highest proficiency in language, in this case English, as education services are offered in English, stand a greater chance for intellectual success. In addition, majority of examinations in America are offered in English.
President Theodore Roosevelt said “we have room for but one language in this country, and that is the English language, for we intend to see that the crucible turns our people out as Americans, of American nationality and not dwellers in a polyglot boarding house.”
Generally, enforcing English to be the official language of the USA has a lot of benefits including saving billions of dollars. For example, according to (Brice n.p), in California Los Angeles in the year 2002, about 15% of the whole state election budget was used to print election ballots in seven other languages and hiring interpreters in the polling stations. In addition to that, $265 are used per day to hire over four hundred interpreters who work full time in the courts in Los Angeles.
Furthermore, official documents of the government that are mostly in billions of pages have to be printed in two or more languages. This requires a lot of financial inputs to cater for the stationery for example paper, translators and production, all sourced from the taxpayers.
By not enforcing an official language, it makes it unnecessary for immigrants to learn English. This has encouraged the creation of linguistic ghettos and social classes of people who will never find the desire to learn English and who will keep making demands to be included in the national affairs with a consideration of their roots.
Having English as the official language will not inhibit one’s cultural heritage; rather, citizens can speak their ethnic languages and practice cultural activities anywhere. The US has 323 languages reported in the 1990 census report and the number is expected to rise with the incoming of new immigrants. Therefore, why not have English as a uniting language for all of America’s citizens?