I had the opportunity this week on Sunday of appearing on the radio show of Julie Briggs, on WMTR up in Morris County. Last week, I was driving back from a gig in New York state early Sunday morning, and I was flipping the AM dial looking for Oldies station WMTR 1250 ----the show I found was Julie’s show "Ask The Experts". She had on her show an author and strong advocate for making English the official language of America, and I called in.
These are the folks who get all upset when they have to press ‘1 for English’ or if they overhear a conversation in Spanish between two people on the street, and don't know what is being said. Horrors.
I've met folks like him before, most recently a Republican on Main Street in Flemington. He believes the same thing as the book author, that “English Only” should be the law of the land. The guy I met wants to charge the Federal government with the task of eradicating the United States of any and all folks and documents who don’t speak/contain the “King’s English” [his words not mine]. I think the irony of his comment was lost on him.
I inquired of him as to whether or not all government documents and all their contents were to be now translated into English and only English. His answer: an emphatic absolute “Yes!” "Each and every one of them?” I inquired. “Yes, again”, he proudly declared, “Each and every American document and all its contents. This is America. We speak English here. Always have.”
The devil is always in the details, methinks. So, I inquired further of his "English Only" plan. "What about 'E Pluribus Unum'? That’s on our money. That’s the ultimate ‘government document’. Do we now place the translation, 'Out of Many, One' instead of the Latin phrase?"
“Latin’s a dead language. That would make no sense,” he declared.
“'Dead language'? It’s lasted on our money all these years, though,” I countered. "And, besides, I don’t think that Latin was named the official language of Rome. I think they just got to spread it around the Ancient World with their Roman legion of armies." But I digress.
“What about the word ‘America’?” I asked. "Our nation was named for Amerigo Vespucci, the Italian merchant, explorer and cartographer who mapped out our continent and named the land after himself." Talk about an ego!
“That’s just silly,” he countered. Well thought-out answer, I thought. I was just trying to get the parameters of his “English Only” policy, I explained kindly.
"What about other legal terms in Latin?" I asked. "Do lawyers need to change them to English now, too? Does 'bona fide' now become “good faith”? Or can “habeas corpus” no longer can be used, but “We command that you have the body” now can? How about “The Magna Carta?” Must it now be called "The Great Paper”?
Where will it all end?
Just some thoughts on the matter. Or should I say, “Iustus nonnullus sententia in res” at least until the law changes.
But for your amusement and education, here is a man from Carpentersville, Ill who is demanding that the town pass an English Only ordinance.
And he is wearing his shirt inside out. Go figure.