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Official Language in the States

Travel Forums Off Topic Official Language in the States

1. Posted by leahrb (Full Member 209 posts) 11y


I have another question to help me write one of the lovely Spanish papers I have the privelege of writing every week.
The topic is Spanglish or mixing of languages so any experiences with that would be appreciated.

Do you think that the United States should make English the official language? or do you think we should continue to accept the Spanish and continue to make things semi-bilingual? Or do you think we should make Spanish and English official languages?

Has anyone learned Spanish in Spain or another Spanish speaking country or in the classroom and then had trouble speaking with people who speak "street Spanish" which is basically the Spanglish? (an example of this is saying "troka" instead of camion or "lonche" instead of almorzar)

Any other thoughts on this topic or similar experiences in your own country would be greatly appreciated!! Thank you!!


2. Posted by james (Travel Guru 4136 posts) 11y

Excuse my ignorance, but I thought that English was the official language of the US?

3. Posted by lil j (Travel Guru 1303 posts) 11y

erm...i'm with you on that one james!

4. Posted by Airfix (Full Member 99 posts) 11y

Hmmmm... Me too, but look here, apparently there is NO 'official' language although English is the 'national' language...

5. Posted by remarcable (Respected Member 335 posts) 11y

LOL..God this a tuffy!

English is the national language of the U.S. Recently in California, some lawmakers wanted to adopt spanish as a co language. Because of the huge mexican/mexican born population. Not sure if that's true for ALL of the U.S.

LOL. First of all, be careful when using terms like spanglish, street spanish, or peasant spanish. In Mexico and california especially, this is a VERY touchy subject. I seen alot of physical fighting involving this!

To answer your question, my mother taught me spanish when I was younger. In high school, "proper spanish" was taught. Now the difference between the two is like night and day. Which is more or less useful? Thats a matter of opinion. If you were use "proper spanish" here in california, everyone who you spoke with.... will know you are not local ! That or possibly well educated -rich. Maybe a "sell out". My cousin who majored in Spanish in school. Now teaches it at the high school level. We agreed, there is nothing wrong with proper spanish on an education level. But if you did not want to stick out, you would also practice "mexican spanish". Because here in west, that the common language.
Now if you were in Florida...God, that a whole new subject!!

Sorry leah, I'am not sure if I helped. If you need more clarification, just let me know. I have a lot to say on this subject. I don't bore you with cultural poltics.
good luck!

6. Posted by Gelli (Travel Guru 2457 posts) 11y

Having no official languages i think is a very clever move, and one i agree completely with. I have a generally dumb outlook/view of American politics/policy, but that is one thing i think is very smart as it doesn't automatically cause problems with excluded languages etc (just look at historical European problems over the arbitrary nature of what has been official or not).

Leah - Grouping it all loosely as Spanish (mexican, different Carib/C American, plus pockets of European and South American) would to happen, but it's normal anyway. Can you understand everybody that speaks English fluently? I sure as heck can't, even when going around essentially a tiny place as England. That's ignoring any variations in the language used in the rest of the UK, let alone every other country that speaks English's differences. There will always been numerous variations which are all approx the same language, but are harder to understand.

And to my mind, even if you make English and Spanish official US languages, you have to then also do the same for things like French in Louisiana, assorted American Indian languages in large chunks of the country, all 20 or so Alaskan/inuit languages, Redneck (!), Hawaiian (i think i'm right - probably not - in stating that Hawaii is the only state with an offical language and it has 2, English and Hawaiian) etc. etc.

Each state could probably take official languages (providing it takes all of the relevant ones), but for the US as a country to do it is asking for trouble to my mind.

The only solution would be to have an official language which is neutral (i.e. esperanto), or have every relevant language offical, which in terms of admin costs alone would sink the entire US government/economy in a single stroke.

7. Posted by barby (Full Member 52 posts) 11y

I agree with having no official language being a smart move for the US.

Attached to a language is the idea of a culture, or a sub-culture. Spanish is a difficult one to lump together because of the clash of many different ones. The life of one from Argentina is very different from the life of one from Belize, for instance. And yet, both would likely be grouped (by the rest of the population) as the conglomerate of "latin" culteral stereotypes, most of which is false anyway.

I learned Spanish from my parents when I was growing up. We didn't/don't really associate with many Spanish speaking people, so in my experience, I've lost a lot of it (though I understand it well), and what I know is pretty much "by the book" and some random 70's Chilean slang from before my parents came over. I had only one friend who spoke Spanish throughout my elementary/high school years, and her Spanish (from Guatemala, and being involved with lots of "latinos" ) was very very different from mine, which made us speak english even more.

Also, my mom's husband is from El Salvador, and over the years, they've been in COUNTLESS fights over stupid crap that are just language differences. Like, "This is a durazno (nectarine)" "No, its a melocoton (nectarine)", when both are talking about the same damn thing. So, definetly there are MANY differences between different Spanishes. Of course, this is my personal experience, and being a Canadian, I can't say what it is like there in the States for sure (though I doubt its too different).

By not picking a language, they're being safe, and thats a good way to go.

Post 8 was removed by a moderator
9. Posted by remarcable (Respected Member 335 posts) 11y

The U.S is a melting pot. It would be silly, to have and official language. Beside who speaks true "english" anyway? Could I get a job in England, teaching "english"?? It's funny how some people get a superiority complex. The world changes. Why shouldn't language?

10. Posted by Wocca (Inactive 3745 posts) 11y

Quoting remarcable

The U.S is a melting pot. It would be silly, to have and official language. Beside who speaks true "english" anyway? Could I get a job in England, teaching "english"?? It's funny how some people get a superiority complex. The world changes. Why shouldn't language?

I've met plenty of Americans that teach English, but not as a foreign language in England.