The Right Language Policy?

What is the correct language policy? Should the federal government of the United States of America make English the official language? Should Republic of India have eleven official languages and more in many states? Should the Republic of Ireland make Gaeilge (Irish) the only official language to push out English in the Republic or Ireland? Should the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland make English the only official language, or adopt Welsh, Scots, (Scottish) Gaelic, and English?

Answers: No, the federal government of the U.S.A. should not make English the official languages. The Republic of India should not have ANY official languages, nor should any of the states of the  Republic of  India. The Republic of Ireland should not have any official language. The United Kingdom  of Great Britain and Northern Ireland should have no official languages. 

The crux of the matter is that no government should have a language policy. The right language policy is no language policy. As the linguist Danny Hieber put it, “To wipe out a language, one has to enter the home and prevent the parents from speaking their native language to their children.” The people that can do that, not corporations, not businesses, not entrepreneurs, not individuals, not organizations, not churches, only the government can force it itself into homes and prevent languages from being used.



2 thoughts on “The Right Language Policy?

  1. That is an excellent point. However, it miss one of the most important things that happens when a language becomes official. State with free compulsory schools force students to use the official languages in schools. This is how the British drove Scottish Gaelic, Irish, and Welsh to the brink of extinction. This is also how the U.S. killed of the languages of the 1st Nations, the U.S. gov’t made English the only language for schools and forced 1st Nations’ children to go to these gov’t school. As to the tax law issue, the gov’t really shouldn’t be making 1000 page tax codes or passing 1000 page, unread laws. And the interpretation of laws should happen on all levels, I share Jefferson’s view that no one part of government should have a monopoly on law interpretation. U.N. treaties are written in six languages and the E.U., well you can count how many official languages they have. Neither of those should exist but that is a different point. I believe law language and requirement posting should be handled by people on K street not in Washington. Because Washington does not know the language needs on K street.

  2. I do agree with you in that no government should attempt to stomp out any language use in their perspective countries, and with today’s technology with translate it seems even less important to have an official language. However, when congress meets in the united states to discuss passage of 1,000’s page bills they haven’t read often, those bills (here in the USA anyway) are often written in English. So, when I see a question like that above I always really want to ask, when one speaks of an “official” language do they really mean the language in which the laws and public institutions publish in. Example, right now, tax forms are written in how many languages? And just as the knowledge of the tax law falls on the taxpayer, shouldn’t the interpretation of tax law fall on individual as well, or does the government owe it to publish all those 100’s of thousand of pages of laws written in 11 different languages? When a government says it want to adopt a national language, I never really believed that they want to prevent families or anyone from speaking native tongue, they just don’t want to force McDonald’s to post those mandatory work posters in 12 different languages, there is only so much room on those break room walls.

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