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On 11/20/06, Ph.D. <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
> 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

Thank you. This makes more sense, but also shows the 'grain of truth'
upon which the story was developed. It also shows how widespread the
settlement of non-English speakers was even at the beginning of the
country.

> 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.

A quarter of all voters is a significant portion of taxpayers, who pay
for such translations.
The semi-rural districts which have a problem with this are those in
which English speakers are the minority.

> 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.

How about imports from Canada with instructions in French, 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.

Devon street on the North side of Chicago has stores and people
representing every Asian (Near and Far East), East European and North,
Central and South American Hispanic country. The residents and
shoppers get along well, even if the are at odds in their countries of
origin.  This is in contrast to the Bridgeport area, heavily Irish
American and xenophobic.

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

I doubt that this group would attract someone who is for 'English only'.
Thank you again for the link to the article at Snopes. I do appreciate
learning more.
Gott segnt Sie immer, alle Wege,
Paul