One Tongue, Brotherhood and Equality
One Tongue, Brotherhood and Equality Language plays a vital role in shaping and constructing any society, community and also country. Not every country around the world has the same language, but English is considered as the most used international language. That is why in countries where English is not their national language, it is taught as a second language.
English is so diverse and developed that, even within English speaking countries, there are sometimes more than a few hundred ways the same English is spoken: different states in the United States use different vocabulary to describe the same things, they have their own different accents and their own phrases and idioms. This is where the various conflicts start taking place: This having diversity within the same language within a country creates a big gap between people from different regions.
How can the residents of a country stand united in better or worse if within the same country the residents cannot even agree upon speaking one language in one particular dialect? Having one official language is like a bridge way between people from different nations, colors, ethnicities, and it tells that in spite of all the difference that there is among these people one thing is really common among them: The way they speak. It creates an invisible bond between these people and binds them in the tie of brotherhood.
This is exactly what Kawame Appiah talks about in his essay “The Primacy of Practice”, when he mentions “cosmopolitanism. ” Accepting different nations from around the world and within one’s own country with their variations and differences is what true cosmopolitanism is all about. English is a very diverse and lucid language which has derived numerous words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Spanish, French, German and many others. Leslie Savan in her essay “What’s Black, Then White and Said All Over” points out how “Black English” plays a major role in forming English.
But even though Black English is so influential in forming the modern English that we speak today, it is not above criticism. Black English is mostly considered “ghetto” and an unsophisticated way of regular English. This division between languages creates gaps between communities of people within the same country which leads to one group of people feeling inferior to the others. This division and difference can only be solved if there was an official language that everybody speaks in.
This will not only solve the problems that arise because of differences between various groups of people but will also create a tighter bond between everyone. And since United States is such a big country with a high population, it is necessary for this country to have a declared official language. Known as “the country of opportunities” and “the center of melting pot” United States is the home to millions of immigrants. Some of these immigrants do not speak English, but are still leading their lives here.
Not knowing English proves to be a barrier for them and they face the difficulty of leading life without knowing it almost everyday. Since English is the de facto language of the United States, it is English that is mostly used as the most common way of conversation. Besides, all the official documentation, legal paper, bills and important papers are all written in English. This comes off as a great barrier for people who do not speak English or are not fluent in it. They always need an interpreter to explain things to them.
This interpreter is often their neighbor, or a relative who knows English, or their school going children who know English. It not only makes things more problematic than they have to be, but also wastes time and energy on both sides. Even though translation in Spanish and Creole are usually given with a lot of official documentations now-a-days, it does not solve the bigger problems in the picture. Not knowing English limits people from communicating freely and openly; it hinders them from interacting and limits life choices for them.
Since English is world popular and considered to be the international language, its value and importance is felt almost everywhere in the world and its impact can be seen in many people’s lives. For people living in the United States and other English speaking countries, its importance is felt at a higher rate than it is in other countries. Lives are really not so simple for people who do not know English in spite of living in America. One drawback of it is that, without knowing English hardly anyone in the United States can land on a white-collar job.
No job or work is considered to be lower than the other and is as respectful as the profession of a doctor or teacher, but it is common for most people to wish to have a white-collar job and be in a real office. (And today’s society is set in a way which makes people feel that way. ) To be factual, not having some kind of intellectual job limits people from improvising their lives. They feel that they could provide better for their children and themselves if they were something other than non-English speaking miners or laborers.
Besides a lot of people who used to have high-collar jobs in their native countries and live in the United States but do not know English go through mental depression when they find out they need to do “odd jobs” to take care of their families. This is when they give up and do not even try learning English thinking it is never going to be worth it and that it is too hard. Besides they think that, since America is such a multi-cultured country with diversity in people, ethnicities and (in this case most importantly) languages, they will not have trouble leading their lives.
Not knowing English might be a barrier to them sometimes, but it is also true that, this definitely does not stop their lives. Even than there are a lot of things missing from their lives: The feeling of loss at knowing that they could provide a better future for their children if they had known English and got a better job; the feeling of being a burden on someone for relying upon them to translate for them; or feeling like a handicap at a social gathering where most people are speaking English and that they cannot participate, are some things that nobody wants in their lives.
But in case English was declared to be the official language of the United States, these non-English speakers would be bound to learn it no matter what. As a result in the long run, all the above mentioned problems would be solved. Even if it might be hard for them in the beginning and seem like an extra botheration, eventually it will proof to be beneficiary for them. This will not only solve social problems but will fix a lot of the national problems too.
Unlike a lot of countries around the world, United States government wants all its residents to participate in civics and politics. Residents who participate in working for the betterment of their country, who participate in general discussion about their country’s future are assets for the country. Residents, who know what is going on in the politics; who know about not just their rights, but also about duties towards their country are what makes the country run smoothly and helps it flourish.
But for a lot of people not knowing English s stopping them from civics participation and they think there is no real need to learn English anyway. If English was the declared official language, no matter how hard anyone finds it, they will need to learn it if they wanted to live in the United States. It might seem unfair towards them since, “we have shared horizons of meaning, because these are debates between people who share so many other values and so much else in the way of belief and of habit, that they are as sharp and as painful as they are. ” (Appiah 70).
It is natural to feel one’s own way of speaking and native language is superior to any other languages. And logically speaking if any language was chosen as the official language for America, it would be English. But due to this people who speak other languages and not English will automatically feel left out and deprived. They might even feel that since they are the minority group, the American government does not really care about their emotions. But if they knew English and participated in civics they will find out that, they are benefitted more than the government.
A lot of frauds, cheatings, money laundering, identity theft, property loss and crimes of other sorts take place with people who cannot communicate properly. For not knowing English, a lot of the people do not know about their rights, the benefits that they can get from their country and states or how to seek help in the time of need. Due to that, when immigrants become the victims of crimes, knowing proper English is often the case that could have helped prevent the crime.
This is a vital reason why a country needs to have a declared official language which everybody will be obliged to learn. It is more beneficial towards the residents than it is for the government. Language is very changeable. It does take a lot of time to change a language which has been established as a well developed grammatical form of communication, (such as English) and also for such a long period of time. But changes do occur and these changes are within most people’s viewpoints only if they are willing to see.
Looking at the different states within the United States, listening to the diverse way of people expressing their thoughts using totally different vocabulary is just a small way of showing that a language can even alter within its own territorial boundary. One word which is common to one particular state becomes foreign to another state and “Origins tend to get lost in the roaring mainstream. ” (Savan 368). But not all changes are for the betterment of people. Language is like an identity which binds age old traditions and speaks of a country’s history.
It is a way to hold up uniqueness of one’s own country. For example, Bangladesh had its war of liberation that was mainly based on its language movement. The people of Bangladesh could not tolerate when the Pakistani government tried to force Bangladeshi people to give up their national and mother language Bengali and make Urdu their declared national language. But this hurt the Bangladeshi people’s feelings: they did not want to give up their freedom, because to them their country’s language was a symbol of freedom and identity, which to many people are the biggest and most valuable assets.
Now-a-days, a lot of English words are lost with the pace of time but this language is the symbol of freedom, virtue and of American dream, unity and nationalism, like the language Bengali is to the Bangladeshis. To hold the uniqueness of the American history, to stick with its age old liberty and freedom, it is important to make English, which was the founding fathers’ language, make the official national language of the United States. United States of America has been thriving with its mixed cultures, millions of different races and ethnicities from all around the world and hundreds of different languages.
But in spite of thriving economically and politically there seems to be a difference that is too obvious to go unnoticed. This difference can be less of a discrimination if there was one language everybody used. It will make people think equally of each other since “there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus [. ]” (Appiah 58) and help them realize that even if there are such drastic differences in the way of lives of most people they are really not so different from each other after all.