A National American Language
As a liberal government seeks to import and accommodate not only a greater diversity of peoples, but the greater diversity of lifestyles and doctrines which accompany them, the topic of a national American language has become increasingly controversial. But there are certain facts about language and education which belong to all ranges of opinion and, if studied closely, show that the pursuit of linguistic consolidation is not only in the best interest of any nation, but is already morally accepted by nearly every educational institution across the entire globe.
To prove such a point, it must first be admitted that language is not something over which governments have complete control, though governments have a particular and important interest in the propagation of linguistic uniformity. There are many examples, throughout all of history, in which a people speaking one language eventually evolved, through local inventions and trends, entirely different dialects, and eventually different languages. As one example, the Romance languages are an attestation to the power of locality over a language's evolutionary processes, all being from a single Latin source, but resulting in Italian, French, and Spanish (among others). Simply put, language cannot ever be expected to remain static, and geographical boundaries are no bulwark against that trend.
Just as Latin had the capability to evolve into several different languages, it is possible for one language to evolve many different forms. In the United States, multiple variances of English can be found in even the same localities, with certain forms being preferred by certain races and other forms expressing cultural diversity intraracially. Thus, such intralingual diversity is a testament to the fact that while many claim English as their national language, and while to some degree such claims may be correct, even within the English language some forms must be given priority over their closely related cousins. The question is, why are some chosen by American educational systems, and others rejected?
It is plain that the uniform construction of sentences must be given a high priority in any linguistic education. The purpose of communication is to relay a message from one person to another, and a message cannot be easily relayed if stated in such a way as to make interpretation difficult. Supposing schools were to disregard grammatical structure, teaching local variations of the English language with confusing sentence constructions and slang terminology, such an endeavor could only disadvantage the student. After all, a poor communicator cannot always rise above his linguistic handicap, which may well hinder his abilities to showcase his valuable talents. Therefore, educators must choose not only a language, but also a variation of that language.
In close relation to the previous point, perhaps the most important question an educator can ask about choosing a dialect regards whether the student's communicatory training will benefit him in business, and whether the student will be able to read and understand the most valuable of philosophical treatises in that language. Most are aware that dialects, though not necessarily guaranteeing a particular type of character, are oftentimes associated with behavioral patterns. And it must be noted that having a specific dialect could very well benefit or disadvantage a person embarking upon a business journey, as certain dialects are preferred and used by business classes (as well as the highly educated).
As such, though educators may recognize multiple dialects, supposing the educator's duty is to benefit the student (and subsequently, society) by ensuring the student's greatest possible success, it must be a priority of that educator to teach the forms of language most recognized as legitimate by the business and scholastic communities. Perhaps in years past, that dialect could be more localized, but with the advancement of communications technology and an increasingly globalized market, the standardization of language has become not only more natural, but more necessary.
And this leads to a very important point. It should be obvious to all interested in the success of their children that in an increasingly small world, not only should children learn the English language in its highest and most intellectual forms, but they should also be required to learn a second and perhaps a third language. Some citizens, recognizing the utility of a multilingual workforce, have been quick to suggest that Spanish be the second language Americans learn, in order that students might more easily access the labor and resources of Central and South America. If this is the case, American children should be taught Chinese, Arabic, and Russian with equal priority, as perhaps more opportunity beckons our attention in those more remote, though more quickly developing regions.
But having a multilingual citizenry does not necessarily imply that choosing a particular national language is not necessary. Much has been said, by oracles both political and Biblical, regarding the essentiality of a national language to the success of a nation. It is well-known that in the absence of a national language, efforts are confounded and sectarianism emboldened, and a society in which ideas are not freely exchanged between peoples cannot easily challenge the spread of evils and untruths both political and religious (On Liberty, chapter 2). If this is the case, then it is of utmost importance not only to protect liberty of speech, but also to ensure that ideas are conveyed in a manner independent of third-party translation. And the best way in which to secure that independence of thought is by propagating a national language already spoken by the overwhelming majority of Americans, just like educators already do with forms of the English language.
Undoubtedly, there will be some who complain about a national language, asserting that Americans would choose one only to counterbalance the effects of a rapidly growing Hispanic population. (The U.S. Census Bureau currently reports that 12.4% of all people living in America speak Spanish as their primary language at home, a dramatic shift from only a generation ago.) In this purpose, they will find a national language discriminatory, and they will be correct. But by itself, the overwhelmingly natural practice of linguistic standardization in education should be enough reason for a national language, since some variation of a language must be chosen above the others. And if it can be said that a variation of a certain language must be preferred to other forms in any education, then it cannot be considered offensively discriminatory to choose one entirely different language over another in a nation. Simply put, the very duty of educators is linguistic discrimination.
As such, the U.S. government should have no obligation to provide voting materials, government websites, or other public documents in any language other than English. To do so not only fails the greater interest, further alienating those to whom it caters (though indirectly) and wasting public resources, but it also ultimately implies that Americans do not have to understand the overwhelming majority of American thought and law. And if Americans do not have to understand one another, they do not have to belong together, something which John Jay strongly implied in Federalist #2.
Americans, like all people, deserve a language. And that language is English.
Jeremy Egerer is a recent convert to Christian conservatism from radical liberalism and the editor of the Seattle website www.americanclarity.com.