English Only (was: New Mexico bilingualism)

Chuck Coker (cjcoker@CRIS.COM)
Thu, 29 Aug 1996 11:06:13 -0700

carter pate wrote:
> Not that I really expect political and social issues to strictly adhere to any
> form of logic or legal reasoning, but perhaps stating a good case can force a
> few reasonable people to recognize inconsistencies in political rhetoric.

> Has anyone already developed this line of reasoning? Can you suggest a source
> for "filling the gaps in documentation?

Some of the issues I've wondered about are:
If we go to "English Only," do we need to eliminate all non-English words from
our vocabulary? Will Los Angeles become The Angels? Will we have to rename
states like California, North and South Dakota, Wisconsin, etc.? Will we have
to drop the "America" from "United States of"? About a third of the English
langauge derives from French. We have also borrowed heavily from Greek, Latin,
and in southern California, at least, Spanish. What about English-based
pidgins and creoles? How long does a word have to be in common usage before
it is considered English? 10 years? 20? 100? 500? Will Old English and
Middle English be acceptable, or just modern English? And which dialect of
Modern English? Should we cross out the "E Pluribus Unum" from our money?
I would like very much to see a legal document that does not contain any
French-based words; most of our legal vocabulary comes from French. I guess
democracy will be outlawed too; it derives from Greek _demokratia_. It
looks like students will no longer have to struggle with math either--lots of
Greek words and letters, Arabic words, etc. Medicine uses a lot of Greek and
Latin; I suppose this will invalidate a lot of drug laws since we won't have
words for what we are banning. Will we have to quit using Arabic numerals?
How will this affect textbooks for foreign language classes? A Spanish class
textbook written entirely in English seems pretty worthless to me.

On the other hand, if I ever get lost in Monterey Park, California, again, I
might be able to find my way out if I can read the new English street signs
that will have to be erected.

Chuck Coker

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