The importance of a national language

-A A +A
By Congressman Bob Goodlatte

It was Alexis de Tocqueville who once said, “The tie of language is perhaps the strongest and the most durable that can unite mankind”. It is has never been more critical that we work to teach everyone English. According to the U.S. Census, almost twelve million Americans do not speak English. The number of Americans who do not speak English has increased 176 percent over the last twenty years.

For these important reasons, I have joined with nearly 150 Members of Congress in supporting the English Language Unity Act which would declare English to be the official language of the United States. This bipartisan legislation would require the official functions of the United States to be conducted in English, and that there be a uniform English language rule for U.S. naturalization.

In a vast and diverse country such as ours, including citizens from every culture of the world, it is essential that we encourage our people to develop a national identity. A common language is a key factor in achieving this goal. Communicating using a common language is vital to the preservation of our national unity.

To allow a second competing language to develop would create serious complications for businesses and public agencies which would be forced to handle their affairs bilingually. It would also result in separatism and division in national politics. If we allow the United States to disintegrate into a nation of regional languages it is likely that we will experience the problems of communication that are plaguing Canada.

Currently, the Canadian Government spends $24 per Canadian resident per year to do government business in both of the nation’s official languages. If the United States was to spend $24 per person per year on government multilingualism, the cost to American taxpayers would be $5.7 billion a year.

A Zogby International poll found that 79 percent of Americans and 81 percent of first and second generation Americans favor making English the official language of the United States. Additionally, at least 30 states, including Virginia, have laws declaring English to be the official state language.

The United States of America is a nation that historically has had many immigrants. This is also true today. The English language can help unite us as a country. It is the ability to communicate and interact in one common language that is critical to ensuring everyone can be an active participant in our society and so I will continue working hard for the passage of the English Language Unity Act, declaring English our official language.