Sarah Palin is right.
Not once did I ever think I would state such a thing, but the former governor of Alaska is correct in her belief that English should be the official language of the United States. Yes, I know all of the less-than-positive things that are often said of the former VP candidate. Yes, I know of her public gaffes. Yes, I know, I know, I know...
The fact is, however, that Sarah Palin (yes, her, the woman who shoots animals from a helicopter) is absolutely correct in her assertion in this matter. She made her assertion on Sunday, August 6th of this year, and for me that was a red-letter day, for that that was the day I found myself in agreement with the Sarah Palin. We need to mandate English. Now. To put it bluntly, America is on a strong, steady course towards becoming a modern analogue to the Tower of Babel as every language on Earth is in use here in the United States, and each is as legally viable in all matters as any other. While such a situation provides a sense of egalitarianism to the speakers of the various non-English languages, I argue that their very presence as equal tongues within our nation only serves to divide us.
Let us consider that the United Kingdom includes England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland--each a formerly independent nation with its own national and historical languages. For England, the primary language is, of course, English, but the Welch and Cornish languages are also spoken. As for Scotland, as part of the UK it also has English as its national language, but the use of the original Scots language and Scottish Gaelic (an offshoot from old Irish languages) remain in use as well. In Wales, the languages are English and Welch, and in Northern Ireland the languages are English, Irish, and Ulster Scots (a dialect of the Scots language). At the time of the American Revolution, most of the modern UK was in place, meaning Redcoats, British Loyalists, Colonial Militia, and British Americans alike had roots deeply planted into England, Wales and Scotland. For us, that means our Founding Fathers not only spoke with a British accent, there is an excellent chance that some spoke with a Welch, Cornish, or Scottish lilt as well.
So what does this have to do with America? Everything. From the beginning, America was a nation of many languages, yet the Founding Fathers created The Federalist Papers, the Declaration of Independence, and the United Stated Constitution in English. It makes sense that a nation whose early flag included the Union Jack (of that time) would follow established UK practices, not the least of which is the expectation of a national language without the official declaration of one. That is, the use of English in the United Kingdom is a de facto standard, not a de jure requirement, meaning there is no law, decree, or other document which requires its people to speak English. However, they just do. Until recently, the expectation of a national language saved the UK from being a nation of multiple tongues and sub-tongues, and it enabled the Government and the People to communicate in a single manner, thus eliminating the confusion that often comes with massive amounts of translation. (Click here and here for a few hilarious examples.)
Historically, the use of the English language is as expected of Britons, Irish, Welsh, and Scottish as breathing air or drinking water. It is therefore very reasonable to believe that the Founders likely assumed the use of English to merely be part of Natural Law, the basic tenets of which form the underpinnings of our Constitution. With English long established as an intrinsic element of everyday living within the United Kingdom and its colonies, the Founders likely saw no need to formally state that which was known across the land, that English was the natural language to be used.
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