Date: Mon, 11 Sep 1995 10:31:27 MST From: Tom Uharriet Subject: FOR English Only Christopher R. Coolidge 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 language. 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 utom[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]