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'English Only': The movement to limit Spanish speaking in US

Discussion in 'The NF Café' started by Saishin, Dec 4, 2019.

  1. Saishin

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    There are an estimated 41 million Spanish speakers in the US and that number is increasing. Yet there is also a small but vocal movement to restrict the spread of Spanish.

    "This is a country where we speak English. It's English. You have to speak English!" Donald Trump often said during his 2016 US presidential campaign.

    The then presidential candidate made this point to cater to his supporters but he also used it as a strategy against some of his adversaries in the race for Republican Party nomination.

    One particular target was rival and former Florida governor Jeb Bush, who sometimes expressed himself in Spanish.

    Mr Trump's tough approach to immigration paid off among sectors of the electorate that somehow share his opinion that "in the United States you have to speak English".

    However, Mr Trump's demand has no legal basis: the US has no official language.

    Videos on social networks show people criticising others for speaking Spanish in public places.

    The message of these videos is clear. If you are in this country, you have to speak its language.

    Those viral attacks generally do not occur against tourists who speak Dutch, French or Italian, for example. They are usually directed against people who speak Spanish and who, because of their work or simply because of their physical appearance, are classified as immigrants.

    "These reactions against people who speak Spanish are probably not new," Heidi Beirich, a researcher at the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), tells BBC Mundo. "But Donald Trump unleashed feelings that were not expressed publicly so often before."

    The SPLC monitors hate groups in the US, which they define as any organisation that - based on its official statements or principles, the statements of its leaders, or its activities - has beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.

    In this sense, the SPLC qualifies as hate groups several organisations that it considers anti-immigrant, such as the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR) and the Washington DC-based Center for Immigration Studies (CIS).

    Also on their list is ProEnglish, which advocates for English to be designated as the official language of the United States.

    All of them were created in recent decades by John Tanton, a white American far-right nationalist, who died in July of this year. Mr Tanton founded at least 12 anti-immigrant organisations, six of which have been designated hate groups by the SPLC.

    The aforementioned ProEnglish is one of the main organisations pushing the "English Only" movement, also known as "English First" or "Official English" movement.

    Part of ProEnglish's official platform states: "In a pluralistic nation such as ours, the function of government should be to foster and support the similarities that unite us, rather than institutionalise the differences that divide us."

    The organisation focuses its efforts on lobbying to convince legislators and public opinion of the need to adopt English as an official language at all levels of government.

    In addition, the group calls for an end to bilingual education in favour of language immersion programs in English in American public schools.

    While ProEnglish establishes on its website that "the right to use other languages must be respected", the group has been criticised by those who consider their agenda to be discriminatory.

    "They are careful to be called ProEnglish and not 'anti-Spanish'. But it is clear that their ideology is supremacist, referring to English as a symbol of US cultural heritage when this country has never been a project only in English," says SPLC researcher Heidi Beirich.

    Another of the organisations that stands out in the campaign to make English the official language is US English, founded in 1983 by Democratic Senator SI Hayakawa, who was of Japanese ancestry.

    Its members say they have nothing against people who speak languages other than English, but they think that immigrants who know English are more successful and can carve out a better future in the US.

    They also consider that the translation costs that government agencies incur on could be invested in other matters.

    BBC Mundo tried unsuccessfully to interview representatives from ProEnglish and US English.

    The discussion about English as an official language in the US is not new.

    In 1753, US founding father Benjamin Franklin expressed his fears that the growing population of immigrants of German descent would make English a minority language. In the early 1900s, US President Theodore Roosevelt stated his belief. "We only have room for one language in this country, and it is English."

    During the 1960s Civil Rights movement, the US Congress passed several laws that guaranteed citizens' access to essential public documents - such as ballots - in languages other than English. But at the same time, nationalist and English Only movements gained strength.

    Geoff Pullum, professor of general linguistics at the University of Edinburgh and co-author of the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language, says there are two broad issues.

    "One about whether English should be made the official language of government by law and one about whether use of or teaching in languages other than English should be made illegal.

    "It is truly amazing that both these dreadful and stupid ideas are still alive. They should have died in the 1980s. If it is made merely a law that English should be used for government, then one day when the population of New Mexico or Arizona or California has reached 51% Hispanic, a law could be passed to override that!"

    Attempts to make bilingual classrooms illegal defy research in educational sociolinguistics, he warns.

    "It has been found through careful testing that accepting bilingualism or bidialectalism in the classroom, and transitioning students gently toward the standard language or dialect, works better, much better, than proscribing rival languages or dialects," he says.

    He believes the "English Only" movement is driven mostly by hostility towards immigrants and their languages and cultures.

    Currently, 32 US states have English as the official language. Basically this means that the governments of those states have to offer all their information and documentation in English.

    But similarly, state governments are obliged to provide information in other languages when it comes to health or public safety issues.

    As for the federal government, all attempts to make English the official language by law have failed. Since 2005, Republican Congressman Steve King has submitted every two years the English Language Unity Act to the US Congress.

    But the bill has never obtained the necessary legislative support.

    That does not prevent the promoters of the idea from continuing to raise their voice.

    "The attacks that we now see on people who speak Spanish were already happening before," says Ms Beirich.

    "But when you are the subject of such an attack and you know that millions of people share your attacker's vision, including the president of the United States, you feel much more vulnerable," she concludes.

     
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  2. San Juan Wolf

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    Well to be fair it IS the language of the people and goverment. My friend from Miami knows both people in real life and in his family who never bothered to learn English and don't feel like they have to, and in my opinion, learning the language of the country you live in is kind of your basic civic duty.

    And no, the technical loophole of the basic and undeniable fact of English being the national language of the US not being formally enshrined in a lawbook doesn't make that fact suddenly not true.
     
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  3. jesusus

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    I m gonna earn spanish to increase my prospects of getting a job down in TX
     
  4. Superstars

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    I hear people say it this all the time...

    "U R in America speak english"
    "It's rude to talk Spanish in front of a english speaking crowd"
     
  5. CrownedEagle

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    Such pointless debate, neither English or Spanish are America orignal language, These are dialects imported by colonization, none has more legitimacy than the other
     
  6. GRIMMM

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    Winner winner, chicken dinner.
     
  7. Drake

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    English is quite obviously the de facto official language of the US, and any immigrants coming into the country should make a strong effort to learn it. That goes for any country that anyone immigrates to and you're just putting yourself at a disadvantage by not learning the language of that place. Obviously we shouldn't discourage immigrants or anyone in the US from speaking other languages at the same time, but it's ridiculous not to acknowledge that English is the premier language in America.
     
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  8. Canute87

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    When they get big enough to form their own community it doesn't matter i guess.
     
  9. wibisana

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    How you enforce something that isnt in the law
     
  10. wibisana

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    Idc if you chose x language as official language.just write it down
     
  11. Mider T

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    If you want a job as a 911 operator in certain Texan cities you must be bilingual.
     
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  12. hammer

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    I'd like them to go to puerto rico and tell them to speak english, and see what happens.
     
  13. Hand Banana

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    I mean to be honest it's just white people complaining about this shit/ We blacks have created our own language. The whites hated it for a while but now it's one of the many things they imitate. For example. Take white Canadian rapper Drake.

     
  14. San Juan Wolf

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    What

    You.....serious ?
     
  15. hammer

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    he's not wrong
     
  16. stream

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    Para español, oprima dos :maybe
     
  17. Wrecked Baloney

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    Que???


    I think most of those who don't know English live with someone who does and can translate. A lot of first gen US citizens can attest to that.
     
  18. Saishin

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    Wrong,as @Drake explained English is the de facto the first language of the USA not Spanish nor any others and it couldn't be any different since the USA came from an anglo-saxon culture (the first colonizers were British).This is more evident in the daily life of an American,when you have to communicate with another fellow American or when you read signs,watch movies,what language you use,hear and you read? it's English.

    The fact that Spanish language has became prominent it is because in the last times there was a surge of hispanic immigrants,it's natural that among migrants communities especially those just arrived on the American soil among them they speak in their native language but it is also true that when they have to find a job,apply for documents and other stuff they must learn English,otherwise how can you participate in the American social life?

    Plus if on a federal level the attempt through law to recognize English as the first language of the USA is difficult nonetheless in 32 states English has been already recognized as the official language.
     
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2019
  19. mr_shadow Moderator

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    TBH English-Spanish must be one of the easiest language combinations to learn, given the huge amount of Latin loans in English.
     
  20. Junta1987

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    assimilation of immigrants will never happen if you don't convince those immigrants to speak the same languages as the rest of the population
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2019
  21. San Juan Wolf

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    Also reminds me of the time I had an argument with this guy who said his acquaintances who only speak Chinese don't have to learn English despite living in the US, because they pay their taxes.

    I was told demanding they learn to speak English is "too nationalistic".
     
  22. Saishin

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    Dumb guy,there is nothing to do with being nationalistic or not,as a migrant the first rule is to learn the native language of the host country because beyond being a personal achievement speak a foreign language it is in a practical way also necessary to be part of the community you are going to live in,speaking the foreign language allow you to get integrated,to comunicate with others and be accepeted by them and of course tackle your daily commitments.I want to see these foreigners that refuse to learn the language in emergency situation,if they have to call the ambulance how they could give the information to lead the emergency in your place?

    That's why speaking the native language of the host country is for an immigrant very important and the first mean of integration.

    They are guests so they are obliged to learn language and culture of the host countries,this doesn't mean that they cannot follow their own culture and speak their own language they are free and have this right but this is must be done by respecting the linguistic-cultural background of the host country.
     
  23. Subarashii

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    'English Only': The movement by racists

    I'm going to learn another second language, like every other developed country, and it's going to be Spanish.
     
  24. Saishin

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    :hurr
     
  25. mr_shadow Moderator

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    Digression, but there are some Evangelical Christians who think the King James Bible (1611) is divinely inspired and therefore equal or superior to the Hebrew-Greek original.

    Hence, you don't need any language other than English to be a good Christian, and maybe Americans are the Chosen People of God too. :zaru

     
  26. Subarashii

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  27. stream

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    This is rather cute in a sort of pathetic way :hurr
     
  28. Kingdom Come

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    "Videos on social networks show people criticising others for speaking Spanish in public places.
    The message of these videos is clear. If you are in this country, you have to speak its language."
    Why would you even care if they're speaking in another language
    :tupac
     
  29. Cheeky

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    What a bunch of fucking losers.
     
  30. CrownedEagle

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    This is what i said English is only a majority since barely 200 years in the United States, a language imposed mainly by force, original inhabitants have mostly lost their languages and had to adapt to a new foreign culture to theirs when the settlers came , the current Americans will also learn to adapt, thankfully for them Spanish isn't the most complicated language to speak , beside let not forget that the U.S.A wasn't conquer only by the Anglo Saxons, spaniard conquers half of southern parts of what people call America today (nevada, las vegas, calfornia does not sound very english to me) when half of central america was under the french crown during more than 100 years (Louisiana, Dakota , Wyoming, etc ...)
     
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