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Paul Schleitwiler, FCM wrote:
> 
> The first act of the new Congress of the USA when 
> the nation was established was to vote whether to 
> use English or switch to German. German lost by a 
> couple votes. 

Not so. See here:

http://www.snopes.com/language/apocryph/german.htm

Certainly xenophobia is somewhat to blame for attempts
to enact English as the official language of the United 
States, but part of the reason is to stop the judicial system
from forcing various units of government to translate and
print official materials in other languages. Among other 
cases, the courts have ruled that voting districts must 
make ballots and voting guides available in language X
if at least 25% of the voters in that district normally 
speak language X at home (regardless of their ability to
use English). For some smaller, semi-rural districts, this 
represents a significant outlay of taxpayer money to 
provide all materials in, for example, Vietnamese. 

Most of these proposals are only binding on government
and would have no effect on private business. Retailers
in the free market, for example, have realized that Hispanics
make up a large group of customers, and most products
are packaged in both English and Spanish. Have you 
been inside a Lowe's lately? Every sign in the store, no
matter how big or small, is in both Spanish and English. 

People fear what they don't understand. When there are
only a couple of families in a town who speak a different
language at home, no one pays much attention, but when
the minority language group becomes large, the majority
feel threatened. There are sections of Dearborn and 
Ferndale (suburbs of Detroit) where all one sees are 
store signs in Arabic. I bought some used printing 
equipment from a high school in Dearborn a few years 
ago. As I walked the hallways, I saw the usual handmade
posters for bake sales by the chess club and support 
for the local football team in English. But I was surprised
at the number of such homemade posters in Arabic. 
People fear what they don't understand. I can imagine
many parents walking those hallways and feeling very 
anxious.

(This message should not be construed as support for
or against English as an official language.)

Ph. D.