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.