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Do you think English should be the national language of the United States?

Asked at Massachusetts Street on May 19, 2006

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Photo of Ingrid Pearson

“Yes. I think it should be for a sense of commonality and community, so everyone is on the same page for all of the important stuff.”

Photo of Mohammad Murad

“Considering that the majority of the population speaks English, it makes sense to make it the national language, but they should let people decide what language is primarily used where they live.”

Photo of Allyce Schenk

“Yes, I do think so. We’ve always spoken it, and I think people who come here should have to learn it.”

Photo of Bill Slayman

“Yes, I do. Just because it’s been spoken here for as long as I can remember, and the majority of the people speak it.”

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oldfashiongirl 11 years, 7 months ago

Yes, it should. Several years ago I lived in Miami and my two teenagers, who were 18 and 19, could not find any jobs since you had to speak Spanish as well as English. I foresee that now with all the illegals storming our borders. It's bad enough that many companies now have automatic answering machine that dole out the Spanish equivalent also.

There was talk at one time that the US had to provide teachers with the language skills of those who did not speak English to help them in school. My children only spoke Dutch and they certainly didn't provide those teachers for my children, who only spoke a smathering of English as when they lived in Holland, they spoke Dutch. It didn't take them but about 2 months to learn basic English and I stopped speaking Dutch with them. In other words you speak the language of the country in which you live. They were just 2-1/2 and 4 when my husband legally got his green card after 5 years.

Ms C: Thank you so much for directing those lovely Canadian geese down my way. Imagine my surprise when I looked out the window and there were 10 little baby geese waddling along in a straight row behind their parents. Now they must weigh about 2 pounds each and yesterday another group showed up with 3 little ones, just babies, about 3/4 pounds each and they had yellow on their wings. I do not know about their nesting habits, etc. but will Google it later. Now I'm off to the hospital for another blood transfusion-having 2 pints every 2 weeks now.

Y'all play nice today and I'll be back about 5:00PM

enochville 11 years, 7 months ago

"Asked whether the language amendments would have any effect, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of the Senate's leading architects on immigration legislation, responded: "Not that I know of.""

This legislation seems to be a non-issue which would accomplish nothing.

I think immigrants should try to learn English, but the government should be sensitive to those who have not learned English, yet. I think the goal should be communication, not some kind of elitism.

KsTwister 11 years, 7 months ago

Since Congress passed it as the National language and that all business in USA must be conducted in English then no one should be refused a job now for now speaking a foreign language. As it should be.Petty waste of time for a given.

Richard Heckler 11 years, 7 months ago

Corporate america,local builders and local landscapers hire "illegal" workers. Does anyone really believe a national language rule will matter to these employers?

Isn't this more smoke and mirrors to quell the very vocal concern?

If law enforcement currently does not enforce or investigate the green card rule thoroughly how will a national language rule be enforced?

Can a person be forced to learn another language?

Are we being duped again by bogus legislation?

paladin 11 years, 7 months ago

No, I do not. I think that, along with our new guest worker brothers and sisters, all Americans should be required to learn and use a new, neutral, language. This would level the playing field and give everyone an equal chance in Life and demonstrate that we, who were here before, are not prejudiced or mean to discriminate against our newest citizens. It would be a definitive way to say welcome to our many, many new friends and neighbors and that there are no hard feelings. I suggest that the new language could be something like Pig Latin or even Navaho or maybe Pidgin English.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 11 years, 7 months ago

This should be a non-issue, except for the xenophobes looking for something to obsess about, encouraged by the fear-mongering politicians looking for an issue of distraction.

English is the by far the most important national language, and it is also the single-most important world language. Spanish is also an important world language, especially in the Wester Hemisphere. So sure, if you move to some areas of the country, you'll find folks who only speak Spanish-- the US does happen to be the fourth largest Spanish-speaking country in the world, but most first generation immigrants, and nearly 100% of their children, will learn English without the encouragement of any laws or constitutional amendments.

If it aint broke, don't fix it.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 7 months ago

Tes, English should be made the "official" national language. We would save scads of $ not having to print out federal forms in every language.

I was at the Drs office yesterday and a family of 4 came in. The 11 year old girl had a cold. They all spoke Spanish and only some broken English. I wondered a few things. Like: where did this girl attend school? I know she doesn't go to my daughter's school and yet it is the only one in that community. Why did it take 3 other family members to bring her to the Dr? When I was the only one in the waiting room, why did they sit in the chairs on either side of me and literally put their elbows in my lap? How long have they been in the US and why haven't they learned English yet? They seemed to have insurance, therefore all other proper papers??? Anyway...yes, English SHOULD, without a doubt, be made the "Official" National Language! It would have saved me much time in thinking. How do you say "Please get your elbows off of my person" in Spanish? "No codo en cuerpo, por favor?" I dunno...I guess I really need to learn more Spanish.

Ya'll have a good day. I'm going. Good luck with the transfusion oldfashioned.

RonBurgandy 11 years, 7 months ago

No, the language spoken by making sounds by clicking your tongue should be.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

I think we should hire English teachers to patrol the border. That would seal it!

paladin 11 years, 7 months ago

Maybe Rap should become the new official national language. That makes as much sense as anything, these days.
Sgt-That's a great idea. English teachers armed with red pencils.

acg 11 years, 7 months ago

We don't speak English. We speak 'merican. I vote for 'merican to be the national language. We've totally butchered the English language, made it our own, gave it a little twist, and that should be our national language. Everyone coming here should have to learn it, all it's inflections and the necessarily slang terms to communicate with the good, God fearin', red blooded 'mericans they're going to come across every day. :)

mom_of_three 11 years, 7 months ago

It does take a while to learn a foreign language, to speak and understand it fluently enough to have a conversation. Even if English is made the "National Language" does not mean that forms will not be printed in different languages or signs will not be made.
Look at countries in Europe. Many or all of them have National languages, but because of tourism, signs are still made and posted in different languages.

I found this when I googled, but I don't know when it was written:

"The ACLU opposes "English Only" laws because they can abridge the rights of individuals who are not proficient in English, and because they perpetuate false stereotypes of immigrants and non-English speakers. We believe, further, that such laws are contrary to the spirit of tolerance and diversity embodied in our Constitution. "

Even if English is made the national language, I don't think it is going to make much difference.

boredwithu 11 years, 7 months ago

President Theodore said it best in 1907, when he said, "In the first place, we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he should be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed or birthplace or origin

"But it is predicated upon the person's becoming in every facet an American, and nothing but an American.... There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room but for one flag, the American flag.... We have room for but one language, and that is the English language.... And we have room for but one loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American peaple."

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

Whatever. This is just another wrap yourself in the flag type non-issue meant to appease conservatives. It gives the illusion of the administration and legislature being "pro-active" against "them."

I also think Cheerios should be made the national breakfast cereal. That will show 'em.

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

Would some of the conservatives out there address this issue in light of the following news item from last month, please:

Republicans plan anti-Reid ads on Spanish-language radio By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Ads criticizing Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid for "playing politics" with immigration reform legislation are scheduled to air on Spanish-language radio stations in four Western cities with large Hispanic populations next week.

The ad campaign targeting the Nevada Democrat is funded by the Republican National Committee and will air in Las Vegas, Reno, Tucson and Phoenix, GOP officials said Thursday. ...

craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

For the question, yes. I thought it was our national language.

But blue, thanks for the link. LOL

Liberty 11 years, 7 months ago

Who said that English wasn't our national language? It already is, and has been for over 200 years.

YourItalianPrincess 11 years, 7 months ago

My dad told me that I should learn to speak Spanish because if I plan on moving back home to Cali, that English is going to be the second language there.

I think it would be great to learn any other type of language other then English. As far as living in the U.S. I would agree that the language could be whatever you speak. Theres isn't a law that says you have to speak English because you live here.

trinity 11 years, 7 months ago

i like the "click" language idea, personally! ;)

in reply to the qotd; yes.

and to those who're posting in furrin' languages, a quote from that international man of mystery austin powers; "sorry, i don't sprachenzie the lingidie"-or somethin' to that effect, lol.

acg 11 years, 7 months ago

Blue, that was pretty good. I want to see a Redneck to Ebonics translation. That would be fun.

james bush 11 years, 7 months ago

Secure the borders, stop illegals from entering the country, fine the employers of illegals.......and there won't be a need for passing the "language" law! Seems like smoke and mirrors to divert the attention away from the Senators and their rush to amnesty.

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

acg, it's okay that we customized the English language afterall they took bits and pieces from many other languages and made it their own. The nut doesn't fall too far from the tree.

English should be our national language. andya ewa ouldsha eepka igpa atinla asya aya ecretsa anguagela.

staff04 11 years, 7 months ago

Seems to me like it would discourage people from learning another language.

Oh wait, that would fit in perfectly with the conservative agenda of un-educating I say GO FOR IT! In fact, we should also tell all those Eurpoean snobs that learned English as a second language to forget it too. Dammit, it's ours and ours only!

*waves American flag vigorously

BunE 11 years, 7 months ago

Its interesting. As the son of an immigrant, the English Language is spoken in our home and day-to day. My grandparents spoke english too after coming here. I imagine that my father's native tongue will not be spoken at all by my children.

I wish I could speak the old country's language, I can understand bits of it. It would make me a better person, a more marketable employee and would give me insight into world news.

English the "official" language? I think that it takes care of itself.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

I think Life should be the national cereal. And no, Cinnamon Life would not count as a second cereal. It would be like an accent.

Bruce Rist 11 years, 7 months ago

I'm not smart enough to have an intelligent thought of my own so I'm quoting Teddy Roosevelt...

The foreign-born population of this country must be an Americanized population - no other kind can fight the battles of America either in war or peace. It must talk the language of its native-born fellow-citizens, it must possess American citizenship and American ideals. It must stand firm by its oath of allegiance in word and deed and must show that in very fact it has renounced allegiance to every prince, potentate, or foreign government.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

I think Micronesia sounds like some amazing little electronic product that people would pay a lot of money to own. Thus, I want to own Micronesia.

As far as the language, I guess it depends on why you are where you are. Are you coming to the U.S. from Mexico to be Mexican, or do you want to adapt to your new country? If you want to be Mexican, then it's not going to work as well outside Mexico. Likewise with Americans moving elsewhere. Adapt to your new location; don't try to make it adapt to you.

sunflower_sue 11 years, 7 months ago

If YDP knew anything, you would know that little powdered do-nuts are the breakfast of champions!

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for digging up that information, prospector :)

This is just another faux (pardon my French) issue to keep the men and women paid and honored as our country's leaders from doing an honest days work!!

southerngirl 11 years, 7 months ago

Ooh, Powdered donuts and diet coke-power breakfast! You have my vote Sue!

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

Regardless of what the national breakfast is -- in Lawrence I'm thinking it will continue to be granola :)

But don't forget Cheerios are heart healthy.

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

Good luck and best wishes, oldfashionedgirl!!

jonas 11 years, 7 months ago

Yes! Find some objective data to justify my belief that I am more acceptable and better than someone else!

C'mon. . . what other real effect would this actually have?

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

Cheerios are heart healthy, wonderfully round, and they taste good! Wheaties recently put NBA player Steve Nash on the front of its box. Nash - A Canadian! On your "national" cereal box? I think not! Who is next -- Osama? Think of the children. So vote your heart. Vote Cheerios.

(paid for by the Committee to Prove that Wheaties are for Commies)

paladin 11 years, 7 months ago

When Jesus comes on down here for the Second Coming, will He be speaking English? Or will he be speaking Aramaic or some such language? If He tells us to follow Him, will we just stand there staring and be left behind and not be able to go on up to Heaven cause we didn't know what the hell he was saying? Will Mary Magdalene come with him and will she be allowed to speak? And what would she say? And would it matter, if we couldn't understand her?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

If a tree fell in the forest, would anyone think it was trying to say that it thinks it's better than the other trees?

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

You can bet your boots Texans will still speak Spanglish when the need occurs -- and it occurs more and more often.

Paladin, if Jesus truly is the Son of God, everyone will understand what He is saying. If he is not, who really cares what he has to say? Not me. I totally disagree with the popular thought that Jesus was a good man, and probably a prophet. If he was not who he said he was, he was anything but a good man, and deceived those who loved and followed him into dying horrible deaths just to promote his lies about himself.

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

I think they should add an amendment that claims that if anyone comes up to a federal employee and begins to speak Spanish (or any language other than English) the fed must put their fingers in their ears and loudly start going "lalalala lalalala lalalala ..." until the offender walks away.

sgt: yes.

merrywidow033 11 years, 7 months ago

only if americans learn to speak english properly.. until that time occurs, i'm content with having no official language.

also, i cannot stand that "if they come here they need to speak it" mentality. mostly because when americans go to other countries, they speak english IN ADDITION TO their own language. if you follow that ideal, i hope you learn another country's language before you visit, allyce...

paladin 11 years, 7 months ago

Yeah. But, I think we should all be learning Aramaic, just in case. What if he re-appears just over the fence, on the South side of the Border? Would we let him come on across? Or would he be picked up and sent back, babbling incomprehensibly?

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

Bea, sometimes I feel like many federal employees do that no matter what language people speak.

Merry, I firmly believe if someone is going to LIVE here, they should make an effort to learn and use the dominant language. If someone is coming to VISIT, that's another matter entirely. Tourists and visitors needn't learn the local language. But immigrants? Absolutely.

paladin 11 years, 7 months ago

Si. I think Heaven is probly allot like West Lawrence, where they speak Kansas English.

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

blue: do we need to build a wall out of cereal boxes to keep the illegal breakfast burritos south of the border where they belong? Also, I'm pretty sure G.W. Bush eats huevos rancheros while at his ranch in Texas. He doesn't care about a national cereal, I tell you! He just says pro-cereal things in public to appease the farmers and ranchers on their Cheerios farms. What a hypocrit! (and before anyone jumps on me for this, I know there are plenty of Dems out their eating yogurt in the morning, and they make me mad too!)

southerngirl 11 years, 7 months ago

Federal Employees speak their own language. Recently I was told to " Go to the DEERS Office in building H743 and pick up form DD201 and fill it out." What!?! I don't want THAT as my national language.

Still holding out for powdered donuts and diet coke as the national breakfast. Such a balanced meal!

craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

paladin, I would have to say that everybody will understand Him in their own language. If you look in Acts 2, that should give you an idea of what it would probably be like at that time.

However, I can't type too much more. My bahs is comin.

craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

Breakfast... A huge Dt. Dr. Pepper in the morning.

sgtwolverine 11 years, 7 months ago

I'm calling your dentist right this minute, craigers.

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

bea, Phoenix is supposed to be really hot today! Those temp predictions look like the valley's. Thank goodness you are so kool!!

GW probably does eat huevos rancheros while at his ranch. It's hard to find good biscuits and gravy in Texas (except at my mum's:)

craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

Sgtwolverine, I haven't seen a dntst n munts. An whut maks u think I have teeth?

james bush 11 years, 7 months ago

If we can't speak latino, how can we order a taco or burrito?

Linda Aikins 11 years, 7 months ago

Posted by blue73harley

A friend has just advised me that we need to QUICKLY vote for a national breakfast or it just might end up being breakfast burritos or juevos rancheros.


beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

Did everybody see that! blueharley said he is going to vote for Hillary! blue is voting for Hillary! (or so I assume that is what he meant.) So now she has two votes -- who else will join in? Besides, I'll bet she knows what cereal to eat in the morning!

By the way, thanks for laughs today everyone!

Linda Endicott 11 years, 7 months ago

A lot of countries have an official language, and I see nothing wrong with that. For heaven's sake, it doesn't mean it would make it illegal to speak a different language here. Just that English would be the official, primary language, and if you intend to settle here, it would be best if you'd go to the effort to learn English.

I probably will never visit a foreign country (who has the money for that??), but if I did, even if it was only a visit, I would attempt to learn as much of the primary language there as possible, if for no other reason so I wouldn't be scammed while I was there. And it's the polite thing to do, you know. Why be arrogant enough to expect everyone else to change and cater to your needs?

Oldfashiongirl, I applaud you encouraging your children to learn English, and you learning it yourself. You write English beautifully.

But it seems that the focus on a second language here is only Spanish, and has been for years. Easy enough to find instructions for things in both English and Spanish, or signs in both. Yet I don't see many in Chinese, Dutch, German, French, Italian, etc.

In this city, we have quite a large number of people from Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos living here. Did their children get the priviledge of having a teacher who spoke their native language in school? No...they had to learn English. And they did. The parents learned it as well. There isn't enough money in the world for every school district or government office to hire people proficient in any possible language you might come across in this country. Seems much simpler for them to just learn English.

As for a lot of the Japanese, Chinese, Egyptian, etc., students who come here to attend college, most of them already know English before they come here. Teaching English in school in Japan is very common. They know that English is used all over the world, especially in business, and it's a wise thing to teach it to their children.

I don't see anything wrong with making English the official language of the U.S. However, I don't see that making such a declaration would change much of anything.

As for the breakfast thing: southerngirl, why bother with DIET Coke, if you're eating powdered donuts anyway? Have fun. Go with a regular Coke. It's only 140 more calories.

I myself vote for a nice, chocolate covered bismark filled with gooey raspberry jelly, and a glass of cold milk.

SeaFox 11 years, 7 months ago

In reply to just_another_bozo_on_this_bus:

"English is the by far the most important national language, and it is also the single-most important world language."

Actually, worldwide Mandarin Chinese is spoken by far more people than English.

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

How embarrassing!!!! Kellogg is one of the names derived from Ceallach :- I gotta say, his approach to alcohol, tobacco, caffeine and abstinence are unlike any of the Kelloggs, Kellys or Kelleys I have known :):)

craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

crazyks, I think my teeth would even rot with that breakfast. Oh crap now sgt knows I have teeth.

craigers 11 years, 7 months ago

Wow, who invited SeaFox reality into this mix? jabotb is just showing his American pride, with a side of sarcasm!

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

SeaFox, to be fair, a language should get less points if everyone speaking it is in one country (except of course Mericun, it's superior and therefore doesn't really care about points).

southerngirl 11 years, 7 months ago

CrazyKS-It's a balanced meal featuring foods from the donut group and the diet coke food groups. Regular coke just doesn't fit in. And I can't have fun, I'm a teacher! Teacher's don't ever leave school or have fun! d

Tony Kisner 11 years, 7 months ago

I made my kid learn Spanish, its coming and nothing is going to stop it.

Although, I wish congress would pass more laws to eliminate those things that are an inconvenience to me, like eliminating all other drivers from the streets when I decide to go to the store. If possible I will submit my list to Brownback and he can get started pronto. Ops, is pronto Spanish? What if I use a word that has it's origins in French, are those of limits too? Are foreign language teachers to become a thing of the past?

Cop on the street, "hey you stop there, did you just say TACO? From now on it's a meat in a crispy corn thingy with lettuce and cheese got it?"

bugmenot 11 years, 7 months ago

If we got rid of the illegals this wouldn't even be a problem.

grimpeur 11 years, 7 months ago

As John Cleese said of the differences between his native Britain and the United States: "Number one, we speak English and you don't. Number two when we hold a world championship for a particular sport, we invite teams from other countries. Number three when you meet the head of state in England you only have to go down on one knee."

Obviously, our truly actual really official national language should be United States of American!

Thank you and be sure to try the bangers.

The haggis? Not so much.

beatrice 11 years, 7 months ago

Cea: yes, it is a little warm today here in Phoenix. Right now it is 100 degrees, and we will probably reach about 104 in a couple hours. We had our first 100 degree day about a week ago. I suspect it will get to the 110s by early June. And before anyone says "but its a dry heat" let me remind you -- so is your oven. Good thing, of course, is you never have to shovel sun. :)

acg 11 years, 7 months ago

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the language of dude. Now generally, I live in a strict dude free zone, but what the hell, I can live a little. :)

Ceallach 11 years, 7 months ago

bea, at the risk of sounding una mericun, in places where it gets that hot one quickly learns the wisdom behind siesta :)

It's Friday!!!! Payday!!! I'm off now to party until time to go home :)

Have a great weekend everyone (yes, everyone, grumps and all). Busy weekend, my youngest grandchild has a birthday and my oldest is graduating!!

mossyoak64 11 years, 7 months ago

I think we should invent a new language. Engligermarabixican.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 11 years, 7 months ago

No, we should abandon English in favor of the language that's most popular with the next generation: Chat-room-speak.

OMG! LOL! :p RU4real?

Linda Aikins 11 years, 7 months ago

Oh I'm sorry MD! I guess I forgot to refresh my screen.

I guess there are more Bobs than even I knew.

How about BobFlakes?

Richard Heckler 11 years, 7 months ago

And what exactly are the republicans doing?warming up for their annual character assassination rodeo? or simply playing politics?

Republicans plan anti-Reid ads on Spanish-language radio By KATHLEEN HENNESSEY ASSOCIATED PRESS

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Ads criticizing Sen. Minority Leader Harry Reid for "playing politics" with immigration reform legislation are scheduled to air on Spanish-language radio stations in four Western cities with large Hispanic populations next week.

The ad campaign targeting the Nevada Democrat is funded by the Republican National Committee and will air in Las Vegas, Reno, Tucson and Phoenix, GOP officials said Thursday. ...

geekin_topekan 11 years, 7 months ago

Open the borders to Latinos only.We have too many whiteys as it is. Learn to speak spanish.Make jeffry Dahmer our official national cannibal.Toto our state dog.Pizza shuttle "Greek shuttle"the official breakfast.

lunacydetector 11 years, 7 months ago

english is and should remain the national language of the united states.

in the country of my ancestors, kenya, they speak 3 languages - the tribal language, the country's national language kiswahili- otherwise known as the mother tongue, and then their other national language, english. i think not having english as the national language removes from our culture, especially since just about every immigrant in the united states had to learn english if they didn't speak it already.

JHawker 11 years, 7 months ago

i think it is fine for english to be the national language, but i also find it very sad that so few americans care about learning another language. america is a global power and international relations are becoming more and more important. oldfashiongirl - sure i think its good your children were encouraged to learn english, but i'm very disheartend that you stopped speaking dutch at home. although i was born in america, my first language was dutch - i still speak it fluently. i also speak english and german fluently and i hope to learn spanish. i wish it were mandatory in our education system for children to learn a foreign language at a young age.

Linda Endicott 11 years, 6 months ago

You speak German, JHawker? I'm mostly of German descent, but I know almost no German at all. I would love to learn it, but I've been told it's one of the most difficult languages to learn...sigh.

It's also much, much easier for children to learn other languages than for adults to do so. The younger they are, the easier they learn them. So, parents, start teaching your young children other languages now!

I think it would be wonderful for everyone to learn other languages. But for government, road signs, etc., I think English should be the official language.

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