The paper "English: The Official Language of the US? " is a wonderful example of a research paper on English. The founding colonies of America were represented by a diverse populace of nationalities and therefore bilingualism was widespread; many of the Founding Fathers, however, realized a common language would represent common interests and rights to all of the citizens of this new country, and that English would be an important means of unifying a nation; thus began the debate on whether the U. S. should or should not adopt English as their official vernacular.
Documentation on the debate dates back to Benjamin Franklin and his resistance to anyone using the German language, which at the time was spoken by almost a third of the Pennsylvania population (Linten, 2006). Since 1981, when Congress began deliberations on the issue, twenty-seven states of America have passed laws making English their vernacular (Linten, 2006). The main argument coming from the government today is that the United States is a multilingual nation that has been built on immigrants, and that all people have the right to speak their own language.
Opinions from one side of the debate claim that one official vernacular would unify the nation but not prevent people from speaking their own language, while from the other, voices are heard claiming arguments from advocates are veiled by patriotism but are in reality based on prejudice and intolerance (Joelson, 1989) in fear of losing English altogether. The main concern in all of this dialogue, however, is the impact a one language policy would have on immigrants, both nationalized and new arrivals. Yes, America is a multicultural and thus multilingual country but the question is whether the freedom of speech vernacular assists or impinges on the acceptance and assimilation of immigrants within American society.
This study will endeavor to determine the real situation for immigrants in America by undertaking research into how English is actually being used within those states that have adopted it as their official language and make comparisons with those that have not. Specific focus will be on how English and other languages are being used within different areas, such as education, government institutions, health, social services, in the workplace, and in communities themselves, and whether its use or none use impacts on the lives of America’ s immigrants.
It is the belief of this researcher that findings will ascertain the real problem of the debate is not on which language should be spoken or adopted as the official vernacular, but more importantly on whether or not America truly is a multicultural and thus multilingual society. In order to gain knowledge in all these aspects, intensive literature research will be undertaken to accumulate relevant and recent data, both within print and online.
It is also proposed that a small phenomenological study be undertaken to explore, compare and contrast the experiences of immigrants living in each of two states, one that has taken English as its official language, and one that has not. It is envisaged that only four participants will be selected for this study (place and ethnicity yet to be determined) based on time constraints and monetary costs. Data will be gathered by means of individual interviews with the participants. Interviews will be audio-taped, will be semi-structured and in-depth; notes or memos will also be kept to record the milieu of the interviews and provide reflection on what is being learned or ascertained from the data, as well as to record the researcher’ s own preconceptions, thoughts, and feelings experienced during the interview process for later analysis.
Interviews will be transcribed and the transcriptions will be utilized for data analysis. This research is important in that it will help shed light on the real issues at hand and provide evidence as to whether the government is helping the backbone of the nation, its immigrants, by not making English the official language, or whether in fact they are fostering intolerance, discrimination, and their segregation from mainstream society.
Hartman, Andrew. (Winter – Spring 2003). Language as oppression: the English-only movement in the United States. Socialism and Democracy. 17 (1), 187. Retrieved from from Alt-Press Watch (APW). (Document ID: 817831991).
Joelson, J.R. (July 1989) English: the language of liberty. The Humanist. Retrieved from ProQuest Religion. (Document ID: 1829674).
Linten, A. (2006). Language politics and policy in the United States: implications for the immigration debate. Working Paper 141. The Center for Comparative Immigrations Studies., University of California, San Diego. Retrieved from www.ccis-ucsd.org/ PUBLICATIONS/ wrkg141.pdf
Preuhs, R. R. (2005). Descriptive representation, legislative leadership, and direct democracy: Latino influence on English only laws in the States, 1984-2002. State Politics & Policy Quarterly, 5 (3), 203-224,312. Retrieved from Research Library. (Document ID: 1001364801).
Rodríguez, C. (2007). E Pluribus Unum. Democracy, (4), 35-47. Retrieved from ProQuest Social Science Journals. (Document ID: 1560769941).
Schuck, P. (2007). Speaking of Tongues. Democracy, (5), 72-76. Retrieved from ProQuest Social Science Journals. (Document ID: 1560773401).