English as the official language
Posted by aogSunday, 15 February 2004 at 19:22 TrackBack Ping URL

Kris Murray has posted on English as the official language of the USA. As some of the commentors point out, that declaration of itself would be completely pointless. It would have to entail some legal changes as well. The question is, what would those changes be?

While I support English as the official language of the USA, I certainly reject forcing citizens to learn the language. What I would do is make it an affirmative legal defense that one presumed another citizen understood English. What would this mean? Let’s consider ballots.

No municipality would be forbidden from printing ballots in other languages than English. However, no municpality would be forced to print in any other language than English. The muncipality could presume that all of the voting citizens spoke English and that therefore ballots solely in English would be sufficient. Basically government and private entities would be imdemnified against claims based on not providing services in languages other than English.

It’s a big advantage for a culture and a nation to have a single language that works everywhere. I think it’s quite reasonable and beneficial to pick a single language as the “lingua franca” for a nation. The fact is that some languages are privileged over others, just in an informal and ad hoc way (there are no ballots printed in Klingon, after all).

Sadly, I think we’d probably need a Constitutional Admendment, as trivializing of the Constitution as that is, because most of the push for multi-lingual requirements are driven by court cases.