Friday, May 19, 2006

English as the national language?

Earlier today it seems that the US Senate adopted two separate amendments declaring that English is the national language. Not to worry, though, the amendments will have no practical effect.

Even if they did, this is clearly one of those legislative provisions from which Congress, following its custom, exempts itself. In any meaningful sense use of English is practically extinct on Capitol Hill. The language was always an endangered species there, but the immigration bill seems to have done it in. Never, even in a body that excells in verbal deception of every kind, have I heard so much euphemism, circumlocution, and unwillingness to call things by their proper names. If we are going to have amnesty, as maybe we will and should, why not call it that? Oh no, we are told, it is monstrous even to t h i n k of calling it by its proper name.

If Congress could meet minimum standards of intelligibility and honesty, I would be happy if all the deliberations were conducted in Spanish--or Sanskrit or Esperanto.


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