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.
Given the Founders' strong beliefs in Natural Law--especially as it was applied within the United Kingdom--they would likely be appalled at the issue of unchecked illegal immigration facing the United Kingdom today as unknown numbers of illegal aliens are plaguing the UK like rats during the era of the Black Death. And like that plague, they bring an utter disruption to a nation's very fabric, stressing resources and causing dissent within the legal population. Part of the dissent caused by the uninvited, undocumented, and ultimately unwanted masses concerns language, and while that is not an issue for any nation that has an established language in place by law, both the UK and the US lack such backing for the English language.
As a result of unchecked illegal entry, the United Kingdom is now a polyglot nation. The newcomers speak Punjabi, Hindustani, Bengali, Gujarati, Arabic, and a host of other languages other than the ones traditionally spoken in the UK. This is not to say that all immigrants are illegal, of course. Many are good, legal, and productive members of society. However, it must be noted that non-English speaking illegal aliens are pouring into the UK by any and all means, and once there it is not uncommon for them to partner with criminal elements and cheat their way to legality. And so the Mother Country is well on its way to becoming yet another new Tower of Babel of a smaller, but no less tragic nature than her former American colony, her traditional languages gradually falling victim to the rush of unknown entrants and their diverse--and unwanted--foreign languages.
Right about here is where some groups start screaming. "You can't shut them out!", they'll yell. "The Statue of Liberty stands for immigration and the promise of a new life here in America!", they'll scream. Forcing a single language is nowhere in the Constitution so we just have to accept it!", they'll say like a bunch of mewling kittens. To all of them, I respectfully state that their beliefs are heard, understood, appreciated, and totally proven false by facts.
America is certainly able to close her border to entire groups. The National Origins Act and its successors shut out entire groups until it was abolished in 1965. So, yes, America has indeed done it before, and given the current immigration crisis, it can and should do so again. Many will howl, "racism, nationalism, elitism, and a host of other "isms". I have a one-word answer: Survival. We need to save ourselves and our country before we can even think of having wide-open borders or willingly engage in the destruction of our national identity to the rousing cheers of anarchists and those who hate our nation.
To those who claim that enforcing a national language violates the spirit of the Statue of Liberty, I argue that the true meaning of the Statue of Liberty is not one of welcome to immigrants, but as a commemoration of the century of friendship between the United States of America and France. In truth, it was poet Emma Lazarus' sonnet, "The New Colossus," that left everyday Americans with the concept that Lady Liberty stands for freedom of immigration, but when she wrote the poem in 1883, the Statue of Liberty was still under construction in Paris and had yet to stand proudly in New York Harbor. In fact, not even Lady Liberty's pedestal was in place at that time, and that is why Lazarus wrote her sonnet: to raise funds for the pedestal.
So while Emma Lazarus wrote her sonnet with immigration in mind, there is nowhere in her poem where she extends a welcome to illegal entrants. This is crucial given that unless specified otherwise, the expressed hopes, dreams, and wishes of any writer (or any person, in truth) are done with the constraints of modern existence in mind, and one of those constraints--if not all of them--is the law. Emma Lazarus did not advocate law-breaking, she did not advocate the flooding of a nation with unwanted persons, and she did not elegantly state her hope for national destruction. Instead, she wrote a sonnet that honors America as much as it rejects the European elite, all done with the hope of raising money.
This brings us to the third argument, that there is nothing in the Constitution that calls for a single national language. Yes, that is true. Luckily for us, we can amend the Constitution to address such a gap, and the language of such legislation does not need to be overly long or needlessly complex. We can follow the lead of the government of Québec which, in 1977, created The Charter of the French Language in order to preserve Québec's French heritage and language. Yes, Québec did what both the US and UK have both failed to do, and they did it over 40 years ago.
Let us now wait for opponents to the above to march on Québec en masse in protest, shall we? As we do so, I ask that you read the following section titled "CHARTER OF THE AMERICAN VARIANT OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE". Since American lawmakers are too busy raising ineffectiveness to a new and disgusting heights, I took it upon myself to adapt Québec's 1977 French mandate to America and our variant of the English language. Do note that I am not stating that my adaptation is perfect or that it's acceptable in American courts, but I figured that someone needed to show just how easy it would be to get the ball rolling.
CHARTER OF THE AMERICAN VARIANT
OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
(An adaptation of Québec's Charter of the French Language
by Keith W. Viverette, Sr.)
WHEREAS the American variant of the English language, the distinctive language of a people that is in the majority English language-speaking, is the instrument by which that people has articulated its identity;
Whereas the nature and origin of the American variant of the English language is recognized as both a descendant of, and variation from, Colonial-era English as was spoken in British America;
Whereas the American variant of the English language is also referred to as the Standard language for the purposes given within this document;
Whereas the Congress of the United States recognizes that Americans wish to see the quality and influence of the Standard language assured, and is resolved therefore to make of the Standard language the language of Government and the Law, as well as the normal and everyday language of work, instruction, communication, commerce and business;
Whereas Congress intends to pursue this objective in a spirit of fairness and open-mindedness, respectful of the institutions of the non-Standard-speaking community of America, and respectful of the ethnic minorities, whose valuable contribution to the development of America it readily acknowledges;
Whereas Congress of the United States recognizes the right of the Amerinds and the Inuit of America, the first inhabitants of this land, to preserve and develop their original language and culture;
Whereas these observations and intentions are in keeping with a new perception of the worth of national cultures in all parts of the earth, and of the obligation of every people to contribute in its special way to the international community;
THE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
1. The American Variant of the English language, herewith referred to as the Standard language, is the official language of the United States of America.
FUNDAMENTAL LANGUAGE RIGHTS
2. Every person has a right to have the Government, the health services and social services, the public utility enterprises, the professional orders, the associations of employees and all enterprises doing business in America communicate with him in the Standard language.
3. In deliberative assembly, every person has a right to speak in the Standard language.
4. Workers have a right to carry on their activities in the Standard language.
5. Consumers of goods and services have a right to be informed and served in the Standard language.
6. Every person eligible for instruction in America has a right to receive that instruction in the Standard language.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE LEGISLATURE AND THE COURTS
7. The Standard language is the language of the legislature and the courts in America, subject to the following:
(1) legislative bills shall be printed, published, passed and assented to in the Standard language, and the statutes shall be printed and published in that language;
(2) Only the Standard language may be used by any person in, or in any pleading in or process issuing from, any court of America.
8. Every judgment rendered by a court of justice and every decision rendered by a body discharging quasi-judicial functions shall, at the request of one of the parties, be translated into non-Standard by the Government bound to bear the cost of operating such court or body.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE GOVERNMENT
9. The Government, the government departments, the other agencies of the Government and the services thereof shall be designated by their Standard language names alone.
10. The Government shall draw up and publish its texts and documents in the official language.
This section does not apply to relations with persons outside America, to publicity and communications relayed by news media that publish in a language other than Standard language or to correspondence between the Government and natural persons when the latter address it in a language other than the Standard language.
11. The Government shall use the official language in its written communications with other governments and with legal persons established in America.
12. The Government, the government departments and the other agencies of the Government shall use only the official language in their written communications with each other.
13. The Standard language is the language of written internal communications in the Government, the government departments, and the other agencies of the Government.
14. The notices of meeting, agendas and minutes of all deliberative assemblies in the Government shall be drawn up in the official language.
20. In order to be appointed, transferred or promoted to an office in the Government, a knowledge of the official language appropriate to the office applied for is required.
For the application of the preceding paragraph, each agency of the Government shall establish criteria and procedures of verification and submit them to the Department of Homeland Security for approval, failing which the Department may establish them itself. If the Department considers the criteria and procedures unsatisfactory, it may either request the agency concerned to modify them or establish them itself.
21. Contracts entered into by the Government, including the related sub-contracts, shall be drawn up in the official language. Such contracts and the related documents may be drawn up in another language when the Government enters into a contract with a party outside America.
22. The Government shall use only Standard language in signs and posters, except where reasons of health or public safety require the use of another language as well.
In the case of traffic signs, Standard language inscription may be complemented or replaced by symbols or pictographs, and another language may be used where no symbol or pictograph exists that satisfies the requirements of health or public safety.
The Government may, however, determine by regulation the cases, conditions or circumstances in which the Government may use Standard language and another language in signs and posters.
22.1. In the territory of a municipality, a specific term other than an Standard language term may be used in conjunction with a generic Standard language term to designate a thoroughfare if the term is sanctioned by usage or if its use has unquestionable merit owing to its cultural or historical interest.
23. The bodies and institutions recognized under section 22.1 must ensure that their services to the public are available in the official language.
They must draw up their notices, communications and printed matter intended for the public in the official language.
They must devise the necessary measures to make their services to the public available in the official language, and criteria and procedures for verifying knowledge of the official language for the purposes of application of this section. These measures, criteria and procedures are subject to approval by the Department.
24. Those bodies and institutions recognized under Federal law may erect signs and posters in both Standard language and another language, with the Standard language text predominating.
25. In the health services and the social services, the documents filed in the clinical records shall be drafted in the Standard language.
THE LANGUAGE OF THE SEMIPUBLIC AGENCIES
26. The public utility enterprises, the professional orders and the members of the professional orders must arrange to make their services available in the official language.
They must draw up their notices, communications and printed matter intended for the public, including public transportation tickets, in the official language.
26.1. The members of the professional orders must, where a person who calls upon their services so requests, provide a Standard language copy of any notice, opinion, report, expertise or other document they draw up concerning that person, without requiring a charge for translation. The request may be made at any time.
27. The public utility enterprises and the professional orders shall use the official language in their written communications with the Government and with legal persons.
28. The professional orders shall use the official language in their written communications with their general membership.
29. The professional orders shall be designated by their Standard language names alone.
30. The professional orders shall not issue permits except to persons whose knowledge of the official language is appropriate to the practice of their profession.
A person is deemed to have the appropriate knowledge if
(1) he has received, full time, no less than three years of secondary or post-secondary instruction provided in the Standard language;
(2) he has passed the fourth or fifth year secondary level examinations in the Standard language as the first language;
(3) from and after the school year starting 12 years after adoption of this legislation, he obtains a secondary school certificate in America.
In all other cases, a person must obtain a certificate issued by the Department of Education or hold a certificate defined as equivalent by regulation of the Government.
The Government, by regulation, may determine the procedures and conditions of issue of certificates by the Department, establish the rules governing composition of an examining committee to be formed by the Department, provide for the mode of operation of that committee, and determine criteria for evaluating the appropriate knowledge of the Standard language for the practice of a profession or a category of professions and a mode of evaluating such knowledge.
31. Within the last two years before obtaining a qualifying diploma for a permit to practice, every person enrolled in an educational institution that issues such diploma may give proof that his knowledge of the official language meets the requirements of section 30.
32. The professional orders may issue temporary permits valid for not more than one year to persons from outside America who are declared qualified to practice their profession but whose knowledge of the official language does not meet the requirements of section 30.
33. The permits envisaged in section 30 may be renewed, only three times, with the authorization of the Department of Education and if the public interest warrants it. For each renewal, the persons concerned must sit for examinations held according to the regulations of the Government.
In its annual report of activities, the Department shall indicate the number of permits for which it has given authorization for renewal pursuant to this section.
34. Persons having obtained, in America, a diploma referred to in section 30 may, up to and until December 31st of the calendar year ending 3 years from the adoption of this legislation, avail themselves of sections 32 and 33.
35. Where it is in the public interest, a professional order, with the prior authorization of the Department of Education, may issue a restricted permit to a person already authorized under the laws of another province or another country to practice his profession. This restricted permit authorizes its holder to practice his profession for the exclusive account of a single employer, in a position that does not involve his dealing with the public.
In the case of this section, a permit may be issued to the spouse as well.
THE LANGUAGE OF LABOR RELATIONS
36. Every employer shall draw up his written communications to his staff and the public in the official language. He shall draw up and publish his offers of employment or promotion in the Standard language.
37. Collective agreements and the schedules to them must be drafted in the official language.
38. An employer is prohibited from dismissing, laying off, demoting or transferring a member of his staff for the sole reason that he is exclusively Standard language-speaking or that he has insufficient knowledge of a particular language other than Standard language, or because he has demanded that a right arising from the provisions of this chapter be respected.
39. An employer is prohibited from making the obtaining of an employment or office dependent upon the knowledge or a specific level of knowledge of a language other than the official language, unless the nature of the duties involves foreign communications and thus requires such knowledge.
THE LANGUAGE OF COMMERCE AND BUSINESS
40. Every inscription on a product, on its container or on its wrapping, or on a document or object supplied with it, including the directions for use and the warranty certificates, must be drafted in the Standard language. This rule applies also to menus and wine lists.
The Standard language inscription may be accompanied with a translation or translations, but no inscription in another language may be given greater prominence than that in the Standard language.
41. Catalogs, brochures, folders, commercial directories and any similar publications must be drawn up in the Standard language.
41.1. All computer software, including game software and operating systems, whether installed or uninstalled, must be available in the Standard language unless no Standard language version exists.
Software can also be available in languages other than Standard language, provided that the Standard language version can be obtained on terms, except price where it reflects higher production or distribution costs, that are no less favorable and that it has technical characteristics that are at least equivalent.
42. Toys and games, except those referred to in section 41.1, which require the use of a non-Standard language vocabulary for their operation are prohibited on the America market, unless a Standard language version of the toy or game is available on the America market on no less favorable terms.
42.1. The Government may, by regulation and on the conditions it fixes, provide for exceptions to the application of sections 40 to 42.
43. Contracts pre-determined by one party, contracts containing printed standard clauses, and the related documents, must be drawn up in the Standard language. They may be drawn up in another language as well at the express wish of the parties.
44. Application forms for employment, order forms, invoices, receipts and repayment shall be drawn up in the Standard language.
45. Public signs and posters and commercial advertising must be in the Standard language.
They may also be both in the Standard language and in another language provided that Standard language is markedly predominant.
However, the Government may determine, by regulation, the places, cases, conditions or circumstances where public signs and posters and commercial advertising must be in the Standard language only, where Standard language need not be predominant or where such signs, posters and advertising may be in another language only.
46. Section 45 does not apply to advertising carried in news media that publish in a language other than Standard language, or to messages of a religious, political, ideological or humanitarian nature if not for a profit motive.
47. The name of an enterprise must be in the Standard language.
48. To obtain juridical personality, it is necessary to have a name in the Standard language.
49. Family names, place names, expressions formed by the artificial combination of letters, syllables or figures, and expressions taken from other languages may appear in the names of enterprises to specify them, in accordance with the other Acts and with the regulations of the Government.
50. The name of an enterprise may be accompanied with a version in a language other than Standard language provided that, when it is used, the Standard language version of the name appears at least as prominently.
However, in public signs and posters and commercial advertising, the use of a version of a name in a language other than Standard language is permitted to the extent that the other language may be used in such signs and posters or in such advertising pursuant to section 58 and the regulations enacted under that section.
In addition, in texts or documents drafted only in a language other than Standard language, a name may appear in the other language only.
51. Health services and social services the names of which, adopted before passage of this legislation, are in a language other than Standard language may continue to use such names provided they add a Standard language version.
52. A non-profit organization devoted exclusively to the cultural development or to the defense of the peculiar interests of a particular ethnic group may adopt a name in the language of the group, provided that it adds a Standard language version.
THE LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION
53. Instruction in the kindergarten classes and in the elementary and secondary schools shall be in the Standard language, except where this chapter allows otherwise.
54. Children having serious learning disabilities may, at the request of one of their parents, receive instruction in non-Standard if required to facilitate the learning process. The brothers and sisters of said children may have similar exemption.
The Government, by regulation, may define the classes of children envisaged in the preceding paragraph and determine the procedure to be followed in view of obtaining such an exemption.
55. Nothing in this Act prevents the use of a Native American language in providing instruction to the Native American population.
POLICIES OF COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY-LEVEL INSTITUTIONS REGARDING THE USE AND QUALITY OF THE STANDARD LANGUAGE
56. Before 1 October 2004, every institution that provides college instruction, other than a private institution not accredited for the purposes of subsidies, must adopt a policy applicable to college-level instruction regarding the use and quality of the Standard language.
56.1. In the case of an institution that provides college or university instruction in the Standard language to the majority of its students, the language policy must pertain to
(1) the language of instruction, including the language of manuals and other instructional tools, and the language of learning assessment instruments;
(2) the language of communication used by the administration of the institution in its official texts and documents as well as in any other form of communication;
(3) the quality of the Standard language and the command of the Standard language among the students, the teaching staff, especially upon hiring, and other staff members;
(4) the language of work; and
(5) the implementation of the policy and the monitoring of its application.
In the case of an institution that provides college or university instruction in non-Standard to the majority of its students, the language policy must pertain to the teaching of the Standard language as a second language, the language used by the administration of the institution in its written communications with the Government and legal persons established in America, and the implementation of the policy and the monitoring of its application.
56.2. The language policy of an educational institution must be transmitted to the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology as soon as it is determined. The same applies to any amendment to the policy.
Upon request, an educational institution must transmit a report on the application of its policy to the Minister.
57. Where this Act does not require the use of the official language exclusively, the official language and another language may be used together.
58. Subject to section 7, anything that, by prescription of an Act of America or an Act of the British Congress having application to America in a field of provincial jurisdiction, or of a regulation or an order in council, must be published in the Standard language alone.
Similarly, anything that, by prescription of an Act, a regulation or an order in council, must be published in a Standard language newspaper alone.
59. Where this Act authorizes the drafting of texts or documents both in the Standard language and in one or more other languages, the Standard language version must be displayed at least as prominently as every other language.
60. Nothing prevents the use of a language in derogation of this Act by international organizations designated by the Government or where international usage requires it.
61. In addition to its other regulation-making powers under this Act, the Government may make regulations to facilitate the administration of the Act, including regulations defining the terms and expressions used in the Act or defining their scope.
62. Native American reservations are not subject to this Act.
63. The various agencies of the Government, and the health services and social services, the public utility enterprises and the professional orders referred to in this Act are listed in the Schedule.
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