English as a National Language, English as a Common and Unifying Language, and the Newly Arrived Immigrant

There are two bills now pending in the US Congress, one proposing to legislate "English as a national language" and the other proposing to legislate "English as a common and unifying language."

As a newly arrived immigrant with a credential to teach English as a second language, I ought to be happy.

Either of these bills when they become a law should at least assure me of a job to teach newly arrived immigrants how to get past the adjustment stage of immigrant life and get into the mainstream by bribing your way in by you faux English accent.

You have realized too long that you can never imitate Simon Cowell.

Well,you can roll your Rs the way he does it but you have to train your tongue some more with the other sounds such as your Ss becoming Zs and your Ts become Ts as in tsaa, tsinelas, tsinese.

I remember teaching a pre-college English class in the seminary. That should be the equivalent of an English Plus in the university. Or that bridge course where the rules of subject and predicate and the endless use of tenses are taught until you vomit with blood.

Or you just simply run away, never to be seen again by your teacher, one hell of a great pretending spokening dollar and spokening pound now the mighty euro.

In those years of enchantment of the World opened up by the English Word, I could never saw anything wrong with my faux English accent. Talo ang mga taga-London.

This was in the Philippines and if you speak English there, you can join a call center and get paid properly. You can take a cab everyday of your working days without getting worried of the money the next day, even if the cab driver monkeys with his cab meter just to test whether you are an idiot or a moneyed idiot or simply moneyed.

But this is America. Huntington says that this nation among nations was founded on the idea that it is White, Anglo-Saxon, and Protestant.

And so this call for a national language because bilingualism has been reduced to an either or OR an AND: Either English or Spanish and/or English and Spanish.

This is where the trouble begins.

When a nation recognizes only the other immigrant and succumbs to the idea that accommodation makes sense even when accommodation is not asked.

There have been some kind of vague and faint protests against these bills as there has been a show of support.

Some fear of a political backlash.

Some fear of a division that will sunder the nation into ethnolinguistic lines.

Others take this as an opportunity to advance the English Only argument and linguistic position.

Others see the evils of multilingualism.

Others see the need to see the neighbor next door who is not any longer white, anglo-saxon, and protestant but a hardworking colored person, hardworking because he does all the jobs others would not want to do.

The legislation of English as a national language is a bifurcated move, with a number of possible outcomes precisely because the move suggests meanings that might have been intended in the first place.

The view that English is to be legislated as a "common unifying language" offers a fresher view on the English language immigrants are expected to learn to get by in the adoptive country.

You never realizes how powerful language is until it becomes a rallying point to address issues about nation building, national security, and national life.

As a veritable United Nations of all the languages of the world, the United States stands to gain more when it gives a social and discursive space to other languages without losing sight of the need to realize national goals.

Sana sa Pinas ganito rin.

Sana tanggalin din ang maskara ng gahum, ng hejemonya, ng dominasyon sa pagbubuo ng pambansang wika.

A. S. Agcaoili
Torrance, CA
Monday, 22 May 06

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