Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Blue Bexley

Even Old New York Was Once New Amsterdam

If you are reading this in Dutch, then I probably do not have to convince you of anything. If you are reading this in English, then I assume you have found the page with lots of great arguments against HB477. I am not going to have much to add, but I will make a few comments: HB477 demands that governments in Ohio use only English when possible, and report the costs of using any other language when it is necessary to do so. It also prohibits requiring bilingualism as a condition of public employment unless it is directly related to the job description. So now imagine if your kids were in a burning building and the 911 dispatcher refused to take the call reporting the fire because the caller didn't speak English, and English was the only language any of the dispatchers could speak...

This might never happen, because the law grants governments an exception for promoting public welfare or protecting public safety. Of course, I cannot think of a single instance of a government using multiple languages that is not for the express purpose of promoting public welfare or safety. So, this law might only exist as a big middle finger to the generations who have come after your ancestors. Of course, they won't necessarily get the message. Imagine if everything written about HB477 was written in Dutch?

The Dutch settlers were here as early as the English settlers. Dutch would make a fine official language. Not as good as Navajo, Lakota, or Ojibwe, perhaps, but a fine candidate nonetheless. You can make the argument that it doesn't matter which language came first, what matters is that American society has settled on English as the primary mode of communication. You'd be right. And it happened because people chose to learn English when they could, and their children learned it as a matter of course. Not because of any law.

Original post is here.

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