Law School Discussion

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BrerAnansi

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Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #50 on: February 04, 2006, 07:35:20 PM »
I think we all should be forced to have at least three languages, if only to show those overbearing Europeans...God I hate smug Europeans...Furthermore I think this system should be instituted shortly after my death...

Barney

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Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #51 on: February 04, 2006, 07:37:28 PM »
Objectively, the English language is not superior to any other. If the majority in the nation, or in regions of it were to speak another language (let's call it Spanish just for fun) we would adjust. Thoughts will still be conveyed, business will still be done and life will go on. 

I can't think of one historical example of a naturally evolving population that up and ceased to be capable of communicating. 

let things happen and it'll work out? 

i prefer to have a surer direction than that. 

but it depends on your preferences i suppose.

Historically though, attempts to achieve that"surer direction" have caused more problems than they solved.  (See Spain, See Ireland, See the Soviety Union, See China. See the reformation/counter-reformation) 

Legislation has never proven itself capable of stopping social change. If the language is going to change, it's going to change.  Why lay the framework for future problems?

well right now it is.  it would take an amendment for it to become a non-state issue.  i would oppose a simple federal law enshrining english because it would be unconstitutional.

Congress makes its own rules, and has jurisdiction over the federal executive departments and agencies. If they want everything to be in English, they could do it with a simple federal law. They might even be able to regulate roadsigns under the inter-state commerce clause.

I think the issue is one of "should they" rather than "can they."

SCgrad

Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #52 on: February 04, 2006, 07:43:45 PM »
well right now it is.  it would take an amendment for it to become a non-state issue.  i would oppose a simple federal law enshrining english because it would be unconstitutional.

i doubt states will willingly pass an ammendment that seems to nothing but restrict their power.

Barney

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Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #53 on: February 04, 2006, 07:47:05 PM »
Historically though, attempts to achieve that"surer direction" have caused more problems than they solved.  (See Spain, See Ireland, See the Soviety Union, See China. See the reformation/counter-reformation) 

Legislation has never proven itself capable of stopping social change. If the language is going to change, it's going to change.  Why lay the framework for future problems?

damn you and your empirical data! 

the difference of course is movement. 

and i was talking about making english official at every level of government.  i'm not too worried about the federal, that will always be english.

Movement? I think you've lost me there. Do you mean immigration?

The states are interacting with their citizens on a far more mundane and practical level--do you not see some neccesity to it being done in the language that most of their citizens understand?

I wonder if the fed couldn't impose a language under interstate commerce anyway.  It wouldn't be the most blatant overstepping of their bounds under that one.


Barney

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Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #54 on: February 04, 2006, 08:19:04 PM »
Movement? I think you've lost me there. Do you mean immigration?

The states are interacting with their citizens on a far more mundane and practical level--do you not see some neccesity to it being done in the language that most of their citizens understand?

yes.  we're expecting immigrants to adjust to new conditions already.  it's not like we're trying to impose it on a group that has been using a language for generations already.

and i never said ban other languages, that's not what this is about.  federal, state, and municipal governments can and should provide interaction in other languages where necessary.  but english should be given precendence in all cases. 

The concern, as I understand it though isn't with immigrants themselves.  Fist generation immigrants, especially those of  a certain age, have always tended to stick with their native tongue.  The concern that's driven the Official language debate is over the second and third generations that are finding themselves in communities where they feel no need to learn English.  In those communities, it really is a matter of artificially compelling change in existing and entrenched cultures.   If the problem were first generation immigrants alone, the problem would die off.

Would you agree that primacy should be given to the language spoken by the majority of the population? And that, if that language ceases to be English, government ought to adjust accordingly?

SCgrad

Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #55 on: February 04, 2006, 08:26:36 PM »

and i never said ban other languages, that's not what this is about.  federal, state, and municipal governments can and should provide interaction in other languages where necessary.  but english should be given precendence in all cases.  

Donít you think state and municipal govt. know better what is in their best interest?  I don't see how adopting a language other than English would be anything but detrimental to a govt. and its ability to attract business and interact with outsiders (to their particular state or municipal area), but again, why should the federal govt. feel compelled to force this?

SCgrad

Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #56 on: February 04, 2006, 08:38:55 PM »
Barney- yes.

SC- state governments may know what is in their best interest, but my concern is when the interests of state governments clash with thhe interests of the nation as a whole.

I think contolling a state's ability to run its govt. the way it wants to is against the interests of the nation as a whole (the parts that make up the whole) but I think that is just something we are going to disagree on.

Barney

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Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #57 on: February 04, 2006, 08:59:58 PM »
Barney- yes.

So, given that, are we in agreement that the previously proposed amendment establishing English as the choice language is probably not in our best interest, as it's entirely possible that, in the future, English will not be the language spoken by the majority?
 

Barney

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Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #58 on: February 05, 2006, 07:10:46 AM »
So, given that, are we in agreement that the previously proposed amendment establishing English as the choice language is probably not in our best interest, as it's entirely possible that, in the future, English will not be the language spoken by the majority?

on the contrary, the purpose of any such amendment would be to preclude a future in which english was no longer the primary language of the majority.  naturally if this happened nevertheless and a significant minority of citizens had a different language as their primary language, it would no longer be reasonable for me to support any such rule.

What makes you think the amendment would have that effect?  Governments do work in English now, and non-English speaking communities are growing rapidly. History is full of examples of governments that have failed at this game, but I can't think of one that suceeded.

More importantly, why would anyone want to fight this fight?  Language is constantly evolving.  The English we speak is not the English our great-great-great grandfathers spoke, and it's not the English our great-great-great grandchildren will speak.   That some manner of Spanglish dialect will be the "American" language at some point seems perfectly ok (the breakdown in communication that you worried about would require a level of social stratification that can't keep up.)



Barney

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Re: English as Official Language: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #59 on: February 05, 2006, 07:51:25 PM »
More importantly, why would anyone want to fight this fight?  Language is constantly evolving.  The English we speak is not the English our great-great-great grandfathers spoke, and it's not the English our great-great-great grandchildren will speak.   That some manner of Spanglish dialect will be the "American" language at some point seems perfectly ok (the breakdown in communication that you worried about would require a level of social stratification that can't keep up.)

1. i think it would make an enormous difference if the country as a whole expressed a commitment to the english language.  this does not mean that it would stop evolving; new words and usages would continue to develop.

But is it neccessary? Is it motivated by anything more than a xenophobic and (and honestly, the republican in me wants to kick my own ass for saying it) racist desire to maintain English as somehow superior for purely unpragmatic reasons?  Communication will continue whether its in Spanish, English or Swahili.[/b]

2. if the english language does take in lots of spanish words and idioms, that's fine as far as i'm concerned.  what i don't want is the division of an english-speaking US and a spanish-speaking US that no longer communicate effectively with each other.  worse still would be a spanish-speaking US that identified more with latin america than with the english-speaking US. 

Firstly, if we evolved into a nation incapable of communicating amongst ourselves, we would, as far as I know, be the first civilization in human history to do so. Do you really envision circumstances that would force us to evolve so distinctly that we would somehow wake up one morning and have no idea what our neighbors were saying?

3. why in the world do you think social stratification can't keep up?  social mobility is NOT that easy for one thing.  also my primary concern is not social stratification, it's geographic divisions.

Becuase it can't. It never has, it never will.  Spanish and (I'll throw this in for AH's sake) some native languages have persevered in largely segrerated areas because those communities have been isolated to the lowest economic classes (for the most part).  In any scenerio that sees the majority language shifting from English, speakers of a different language would have to integrate into every level of society (if only because the sort of aparthied minority domination required to prevent it has only ever been achieved through artificial means). In order for that to occur, a blending of cultures and languages would have to occur. It wouldn't be sudden, and it wouldn't be shocking.  Artificial social barriers would have to be put in place to maintain our current level of social stratification to allow for your nightmare scenerio of a divided society speaking two different languages.