After native tongue helps shape our personal

After
the reading of the article we get an idea of Robert King’s point of view and
arguments concerning language.

            It is correct that “our native
tongue helps shape our personal identity, giving us not only words and
literature in common with people who speak the same language but perhaps even
habits of mind.” (409) But in Robert D. King’s words “just how much of a
country’s identity is tied to its language? (…) is language diversity really
threat to national identity?” (409)

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            On august 1, 1996 a bill was sanctioned
by the House of Representatives in the United States that would make the
official language of the country English. One of the states that passed the “English
Only” Law was Arizona in October, 1995.

            King also reinforces the fact that the
Founding Fathers didn’t feel the need to legislate that English had to be the official
language of the Country and that “it has always been taken for granted that English
is the national language and that one must learn English in order to make it in
America.” (411)

            Back in 1753, Benjamin Franklin showed
his concern about the immigrants, especially the German ones. He believed that
they would out number them and they would not be able to preserve their
language. Even Theodore Roosevelt said “we have room for but one language here,
and that is the English language (…) we must have but one flag. We must have
also but one language. That must be the language of the Declaration of
Independence”. (411)

            I think that one of the biggest
questions in King’s mind was “is America threatened by the preservation of
languages other than English?” (413) Through the Middle Ages you owed loyalty
to a ruler not to a nation as a language unit, but a lot of people think of
nation  as a “totality of people who
speaks the same language” (414, Jacob Grimm, 1846) or that “languages
originally distinguished nations from one another”. (414, Rousseau) Therefor,
almost by default, language became the defining characteristic of nationality.

            Robert King gives us examples of how
countries deal with the language differences. For instance, Estonia has passed
a law demanding knowledge of their language as a requirement for citizenship
even though Ethnic Russians make up almost a third of Estonia’s population. At the
same time, other countries manage to stay unified in the middle of the multilingualism.

For example, Switzerland and India, who recognizes 19 official languages. Both of
the countries, in King’s opinion, have a “strong national identity” and maintain
their unity through their beliefs, religions, memories, customs, among other
things.

            Just like any other country, these
ones have complications too when it comes to language, particularly when you
have so many. But like King says “there is almost nothing the government (…)
can do to change language usage and practice”. You can’t make or stop someone
in a free country to express themselves how they want and in any language they
wish to. “wise governments keep their hands off language to the extent that it
is possible to do so.” (418)

            I believe  that the most convincing piece of evidence is
when he says that “language is a convenient surrogate for other national
problems” (419), because people can deal with language differences. There are
other ways to communicate and make yourself heard. People, especially in America,
are just threatened by language and “not many of today’s immigrants will see
their first language survive into the second generation” (419) if we don’t accept
and respect each other and our differences. People should take a look at
themselves and ask, is this really what we want? All of us to be the same? I don’t
think we do. How boring would that be?

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