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National Identity and Language Rights - Research Paper Example

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In the report “National Identity and Language Rights,” the author focuses on a movement afoot to make English the official language of the United States, or, alternatively, to make English the only language of the United States. This has been driven by a “standard language ideology.”…
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National Identity and Language Rights
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Download file to see previous pages The official thinking goes that one language is necessary for the inherent unity of the country. However, the unofficial reason for these laws, according to many, is racist at its core – because language is not just an abstraction or way to communicate, but also is vital to one's culture and place in society, deeming one's language as inferior is akin to deeming one's culture as also inferior. Another issue is that these laws are probably unconstitutional, as they disenfranchise potential voters who do not know the language. As voting is a right for all citizens, forcing a citizen to vote without knowing what he is voting for, or forcing this citizen to stay home, is unconstitutional. These are just some of the reasons why English only or official English laws are unworkable. But still, legislatures and the people try to make them work, as evidenced by the different movements that have sprung up in this milieu.
There are a variety of reasons for the movement to make English the official language. Citrin et al. (1990) identified some of these reasons in their study of the municipalities and states where English only or English as the Official language have been adopted. One of these reasons is historical in nature. English-only in public opinion began in earnest around the turn of the century, as people immigrating from Southern and Eastern Europe stirred xenophobic feelings among Americans, culminating in the “Americanization” movement that “insisted that national unity depended upon cultural homogeneity and a common language” (Auerbach, 1993, p. 10). ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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