After English language (…) we must have but one

the reading of the article we get an idea of Robert King’s point of view and
arguments about language.

            It is true that “our native tongue
helps shape our personal identity, giving us not only words and literature in
common with people who speak the same language but perhaps even habits of mind.”
(409) But in Robert D. King’s words “just how much of a country’s identity is
tied to its language? (…) is language diversity really threat to national
identity?” (409)

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            On august 1, 1996 a bill was
approved by the House of Representatives in the United States that would make
the official language of the country English. The vote passed by 259 to 169
with more Republicans voting in favour and more Democrats voting against. One
of the states that passed the “English Only” Law was Arizona in October, 1995.

            King also reinforces the fact that the
Founding Fathers didn’t feel the need to legislate that English had to be the official
language of the Country and that “it has always been taken for granted that English
is the national language and that one must learn English in order to make it in
America.” (411)

            Back in the day, in 1753, Benjamin Franklin
shared his concern about the immigrants, especially the German ones. He thought
that they would out number them and they wouldn’t be able to preserve their
language. Even Theodore Roosevelt said “we have room for but one language here,
and that is the English language (…) we must have but one flag. We must have
also but one language. That must be the language of the Declaration of
Independence”. (411)

            I think that one of the biggest
questions in King’s mind was “is America threatened by the preservation of
languages other than English?” (413) During the Middle Ages you owed loyalty to
a ruler not to a nation as a language unit, but a lot of people think of nation
 as a “totality of people who speaks the
same language” (414, Jacob Grimm, 1846) or that “languages originally distinguished
nations from one another”. (414, Rousseau) Therefor, almost by default,
language became the defining characteristic of nationality.

            Robert King gives us examples of how
countries deal with the language differences. For example, Estonia has passed a
law requiring knowledge of their language as a condition for citizenship even
though Ethnic Russians make up almost a third of Estonia’s population. At the
same time, other countries manage to stay unified in the middle of the multilingualism.

For example, Switzerland and India, who recognizes 19 official languages. Both of
the countries, in King’s opinion, have a “strong national identity” and maintain
their unity through their beliefs, religions, memories, customs, among other

            Just like any other country, these
ones have problems too when it comes to language, especially when you have so many.

But like King says “there is almost nothing the government (…) can do to change
language usage and practice”. You can’t make or stop someone in a free country
to express themselves how they want and in any language they wish to. “wise
governments keep their hands off language to the extent that it is possible to
do so.” (418)

            I believe  that the most convincing piece of evidence is
when he says that “language is a convenient surrogate for other national
problems” (419), because people can deal with language differences. There are
other ways to communicate and make yourself heard. People, especially in America,
are just threatened by language and “not many of today’s immigrants will see
their first language survive into the second generation” (419) if we don’t accept
and respect each other and our differences. People should take a look at
themselves and ask, is this really what we want? All of us to be the same? I don’t
think we do. How boring would that be?