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please speak englishHave protests against Spanish being spoken in the US created an atmosphere of distrust and intolerance?

Or is it just common sense to demand that English be spoken in a country where a majority of people speak the language?

Sometimes, it's hard to tell.

"English Only Please" posters hung in schools, businesses, and government offices sometimes come with overtones of racial bias.

For instance, as a result of a zero-tolerance policy enacted at a school in North Carolina, a school secretary was fired for speaking Spanish to a student's parents (who spoke no English.)

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Republican candidate Rick Santorum was criticized when he publicly took the position that Puerto Rico, a Spanish-speaking territory, should be required to make English its primary language as a condition of statehood.

Meanwhile, ethnic studies classes are now banned throughout Arizona.

Has the English-only movement gone completely off the edge? Not yet. But taken to its logical extremes here's what a US map would look like if we all had to replace foreign-sounding place names with proper English translations (click to enlarge) :

English only US map - click to enlarge

For example, the Potawatomi Indians first named the swampy area next to Lake Michigan "stinky onion" or shikaakwa, Chicago.

San Francisco would also have to be translated from the original Spanish to "St. Francis"; Los Angeles to "The Angels"; and Florida to "Flowery". From the French, Baton Rouge would be known as "Red Stick" and Vermont changed to the more familiar 'Green Mountain".

And there are dozens of other examples that could be cited from coast to coast.

Clearly, the U.S. is not Switzerland (where Italian, French, and German are among the officially listed languages) but America was, and continues to be, strengthened by influxes of immigrants from other countries who eventually learn the language.

In fact, it's the wise parent who will always ensure that their children learn the main language of the land that they settle in. That is, if they really want them to excel.

English-only, no. Bilingual, si.

More about "English-only" around the Web:

U.S. English - Proponents for making English the official language of the United States..

Should English Be the Law of the Land? - :When did language and nationalism first intertwine? Plus more on the historical precedents for English-only and a thoughtful discussion on the pros and cons.

U.S. place names of Spanish origin - Scroll own the long Wikipedia list of American place names in every state of the Union.


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