While on Facebook the other day, I noticed a new meme spreading in people’s status updates. It read, “Why the hell do I have to press one for English if I live in America?”
I found that amusing. The obvious answer, “Because English is not the original language of North America?” Here is a response I made to one friend:
Just for the sake of argument, the original languages of the US were Native American. English was imposed later by European immigrants. In addition, the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which ended the Mexican-American War assured that Mexican citizens who came into American jurisdiction in what is now six states would have their rights recognized. The English speakers were the “immigrants.”
Plus, it just makes good business sense to allow customers who speak another language the option to communicate with you in that language as you take their money. I have an online business and I have a Spanish portal there. I enjoy the dollars that result.
But yeah, I wish everyone used English. However, the history of North American does not support a universal English language. Some accommodations for Spanish, French, Hawaiian (the non-immigrant tongue of the State of Hawaii), or other native tongue will not really hurt anyone. I will gladly push one. I will become annoyed though if is becomes “Press two for English.”
It really appears to me that anyone insisting on English only in the USA does not understand history very well. It may be just a populist backlash from some who do understand the historical issues but I think many are just ignorant and do not realize that large portions of the USA have been speaking another language like Spanish centuries before they became American and that English is the language of the immigrants.