Date: Wed, 13 Sep 1995 20:01:35 -0700

From: Rima & Kim McKinzey rkm[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]SLIP.NET

Subject: Re: English Only

Ok, I'll stick my 2 cents into this mess.

I was taught that the purpose of speech (or writing) was communication. It

is therefore mostly the responsibility of the speaker/writer to take care

of that communication. Assuming communication to be a good and important

thing, and I do, it is therefore incumbent upon the speaker/writer to

achieve it.

If I were in an other language speaking country, I would do my utmost to

learn that language. I would find it crucial to be able to talk to and

understand people/signs/ and what was going on around me. I would not

think it reasonable for everyone there to necessarily accomodate my

linguistic limitations.

On the other hand, if there were an emergency or legal issue, I would very

much want to find someone who spoke English and would go out of my way to

do so. I would also appreciate it if emergency/danger/warning type signs

were in English as well as other languages. If I wanted to function in

that country, it would be my responsibility to learn their language. It

would be their responsibility to make that learning accessible and

inexpensive (if not free).

I think it very important for people in this country to be able to

communicate with each other. This creates at least some understanding and

the possibility for friendship/goodwill/neighborliness/etc.

This says nothing at all about what I would speak at home, teach my

children, write in my diary.

Like so many other things in this country, the English Only issue seems to

be gone at backwards. ESL classes should be readily accessible, funded,

popular. It should be abundantly clear to non-English speakers that their

employment/educational/financial futures are severely limited by not

speaking the predominant language used here. Yes, there are many more or

less monolingual non-English speaking communities around the country, and

if I were living in one of them - and had to function at all - I would try

to gain at least a rudimentary knowledge of that language. But they should

also learn English.

It's a difficult issue that needs to be approached from both directions -

the teaching and the learning.

I know I'm not offering a solution, but at least I'm adding to the confusion.