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
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
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.