CHAT: French in Louisiana and Spanish in California (was CHAT: The EU expands)
|From:||Danny Wier <dawiertx@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, May 2, 2004, 23:16|
From: "Jean-François Colson" <fa597525@...>
> French and English in Louisiana. Hawaiian and English in Hawaii. Spanishand
> English in I don't remember which state for sure, California?
I looked it up, and I was only half-right about English being the sole
official language of Louisiana. Legislation is required to be published in
English, but the State Constitution does specifically allow for translations
into French. So French is semi-official.
California has only one official language, despite being the most
linguistically diverse state in the nation. Linguocultural reactionarianism
is big in the Golden State, as the English Only movement pretty much started
there and has its most passionate adherents today in that state (as well as
the other states along the US-Mexico border, and also Florida which has
large numbers of Cubans and Haitians). Of course there are much more
pressing matters than language policy, like the 'Wars' on terrorism and
drugs and saving Social Security and Medicare.
(Remember, we're a federal republic, so State governments have a lot of
freedom in deciding policy that the Federal government can't touch; the
Tenth Amendment states that in theory.)
> Does that mean that English and the other official language must be spoken
> by the officials in those states?
> Or that in the administrations there must be bilingual personspermanently?
> Are laws discussed in English only or in the other language too?
> Can you sign a contract or sell your house in any-one of the official
> In one word, what does that mean in the everyday life?
Just because the official language of your State is English, Spanish, Tech
or whatnot (or the whole nation, if Congress does declare an official
language and the President signs it into law - that would probably have to
be by a Constitutional Amendment) doesn't mean you *can't* use another
language publicly. California uses five languages on its ballots and Florida
uses three, and anywhere across the land you'll find businesses with signs
in Spanish or German or Vietnamese that don't even have English on them!
Which is confusing to me since I don't speak a word of Vietnamese (well, I
know what Pho is at least), but it's a right protected by the First
Amendment. The real controversy is over bilingual education (or dual
language which I like better; I'm an English Plus guy myself).
There is such a major need for bilingual service workers in the US; we're in
a peak period of immigration we haven't seen since probably the late 1800s.
We got plenty of Spanish speakers already, but the average American is kinda
scared of a language like Arabic or Vietnamese. And many of us never heard
I would also advise being careful about debate over language policy on this
list (especially in the US or Canada), just as auxlang flamewars are a
no-no. (No, I'm not trying to be a list Nazi. ;) or a high school civics
teacher for that matter...)