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The United States constitution does not clearly stipulate the official language of the country, although English is the most spoken language in governmental, educational, and business circles. Maybe the reason for this is because the founding fathers of this nation tried to preserve the values of diversity rooted in early American society by eliminating any official language clause from the constitution. Being the land of the free and the home of the brave, freedom to choose what language you like to speak is unquestionable. However, there are growing concerns among the established English-speaking elites of this country that the expanding immigrant population in America will soon affect what is understood to be the common language in the United States. It is possible that, several decades from now, Spanish will be the major spoken language in America (with the Hispanic population growing so fast). Will this language shift eradicate the established culture in America? Or is it just a part of the phobia of a handful of Americans, derived from a centuries old racism and white supremacy ideas?

One of the Super Bowl commercials last year resulted in controversial reactions among conservative Americans. In the commercial, several American citizens of different ethnic backgrounds sing “America the Beautiful” in many different languages. The subliminal message within the commercial is aimed at provoking the audience’s perspective regarding pluralism in America, which can be manifested in multilingualism and a multicultural tradition. The commercial depicts an ideal interpretation of American society in which people live hand-in-hand in diversity. Yet this has not been the reality, as racial discrimination has been a part of the American History since the inception of the nation. Slavery existed in the United States in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In addition, nativism is a growing political perspective in the America. Nativist worldviews demand a favored status for the established inhabitants of a nation and, hence, a  lower political or legal status for certain group or ethnicities. One of the items on the political agenda of nativism is maintaining the spirit of mass nationalism, including promoting the use of a national language. Nevertheless, over-enforcement of a national language can potentially lead to language repression and cultural genocide, a centuries old primordial tyranny that has resulted in to the extinction of ancient language and cultures.

The book Language and Cultural Diversity, edited by Xabier Irujo and Viola Miglio, includes case studies that amplify the loss of the linguistic and cultural richness of Basques, Native-Americans, and French-Canadians. Irujo and Miglio maintain that the lack of political, cultural, and legal support has contributed to linguistic and cultural degradation. Woven throughout the book is a belief in the power of discourse and research to protect and even enhance linguistic diversity. Nevertheless, language preservation is only possible if there is an adequate acceptance of cultural diversity and multilingualism as positive outcomes for the whole nationwide population, not just for a minority. It is also recommended that the concept of a monolingual, monocultural nation-state must be abandoned and instead, the concept of a multicultural state should be adopted. Nevertheless, how a multicultural state can be maintained remains open to question. The fact that there has been significant resistance from some American citizens to embrace the multicultural idea shows that the struggle against cultural genocide is an ongoing fight.

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