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Should English Be Official or the Law?

Currently, many American scholars and policy-makers briskly debate the question of whether English should be declared the official or even national language of the United States. To some extent, this controversy is connected with the fact that the number of Spanish-speaking people in the country has dramatically increased over recent years and this may hypothetically shatter the unity of the nation and even stir ethnic or racial animosity. Such authors as Charles Krauthammer and Robert King express different viewpoints on this question. According to Charles Krauthammer, the US government should reinforce the status of the English language. Moreover, the writer believes that Spanish should not be officially recognized; otherwise, American society can face a great number of difficulties such as separatism. In his turn, Robert King is firmly convinced that the state should not intervene because the dominance of the English language is currently indisputable and the interference can only intensify the enmity between various ethnic groups.

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Both authors advance rather convincing examples in order to substantiate their viewpoints. Charles Krauthammer, who is familiar with the linguistic situation in Canada, says that bilingualism does not always contribute to the well-being of the population. This country has always been torn between two separate communities: the English and French-speaking citizens, especially in the province of Quebec (Krauthammer, unpaged). Even now this province of Canada strives to receive autonomy from the state. On the one hand, this evidence is rather compelling. But Robert King illustrates a situation that partially refutes Krauthammers argument. The scholar mentions Switzerland where people speak four languages: French, German, Italian or Romansh and this does not pose any problems to the population (King, p 60). Robert King acknowledges the belief that America might be threatened by the flow of Mexican immigrants but not the Spanish language, itself.

In this regard, Charles Krauthammer notes that American society has to cope with “monoclonal emigration” from Mexico and all of these people speak the same language. In the long term, the increasing number of Mexican immigrants can constitute a serious risk to the status of the English language. His overarching thesis is that the success of the United States can be explained by the linguistic unanimity of the country. Nowadays this unanimity is on the verge of being destroyed (Krauthammer, unpaged). Nonetheless, we should also refer to Robert Kings opinion. He believes that at this stage, the government policy of non-interference is the most prudent strategy. The thing is that restrictions imposed on various linguistic minorities can spark off waves of protest and accusations of racism and discrimination.

On the whole, it is quite possible to agree with Robert King who emphasizes that linguistic diversity is one of Americas major assets. As for Charles Krauthammers perspective, it is quite possible to argue that he mostly appeals to the fears of American citizens. It stands to reason that immigration is one of the most urgent issues on the American agenda, but the US society is rather unlikely to suffer from linguistic differences. Overall, it seems that the origins of this debate should be searched in the realm of economics, rather than linguistics.

Works Cited

King Robert. “Should English Be the Law” The Atlantic Monthly, 1997, pp 55-64.

Krauthammer Charles. “In Plain English: Let’s Make It Official”. Time, Sunday, 2006. Web.

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