Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 10:31:27 MST


Subject: FOR English Only

Christopher R. Coolidge ccoolidg[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MOOSE.UVM.EDU wrote:

If all 50 states pass an English only law, then we'll confound

them by speaking 50 different dialects and pidgins. If we passed a Cherokee-

only law, we'd all speak our own form of pidgin Cherokee colored by our eth-

nic background. What's the difference?

Was that an emotional appeal or merely innocent confusion of issues?

Aside from educational objectives to teach Standard American English

grammar/usage, I know of no current drive to mandate the use of any

particular dialect. That is a different issue altogether. English

Only legislation eliminates states' requirements to provide education

and state materials in any language that is spoken (as a native

language) within those states. When California, for example (unless

I am mistaken), originates public materials, they must be available in

several languages at the expense of the tax payer. When printing in

English, however, they do not write one version in the South Central

L.A. Black English dialect, another in the East L.A. Hispanic English

dialect, another the dialects of Chinatown, desert towns, mountain

regions, beach teens, San Fernando Vallians, etc. Instead, they

write their material (as closely as they know how) in Standard

American English--that language that is found in most of our school's

grammar books.

This so-called "Standard" English is not morally superior or more

legitimate than any other dialect. Nor is English morally superior

to other languages. English Only legislation does not discourage

people from using their own dialects. Nor does it prevent one from

learning a second or third language. It simply says that those

states are able to publish in English without being required to make

multiple language versions. Likewise, they can teach in English

without protecting their students from needing to learn this


We all contribute to this e-mail discussion without difficulty even

though we speak very different dialects. I have no more problem

understanding entries from South Africa, Texas, New York, Alabama,

Boston, or Watts than I do from any other country, state, or city.

Why? Because no matter what we have learned to speak, we all come

close enough to being able to write in Standard American English to

be able to freely communicate. English Only legislation has nothing

to do with dialects. What is does have to do with is eliminating our

mandated non-expectation of immigrants to learn to communicate as

freely in Standard American English as we do.

Tom Uharriet

Springville, Utah