America, from her birth, has had as a common bond a single language. It's not the only language in the world. It wasn't even invented here. But in hard times and prosperity, safety and danger, through political struggles and wars, the single language has allowed Americans of all origins to take full part in public life. Without the ability to speak a common language, we are a mere collection of colocated tribes, soon to disintegrate and be cast into the dustbin of history.
If they share a language, the poorest child can converse with the wealthiest financier, should the need arise. Without a common tongue, the rich and powerful can easily ignore even a mob in the street, a mob much more likely to turn to violence when its well-spoken, cogent and passionately delivered points are, through lack of understanding, ignored as gibberish.
Several factors contribute to the necessity of a common language. I apologize for the lack of scholarship here; your refund is in the mail.
The amount of waste and energy required to accomodate multiple languages is staggering. Teachers, government workers, and really everyone would be asked to communicate in the language preferred bythe few, at the expense of the many. While the elitist would suggest that is good and proper, it is no more realistic than it is just, and it is even less just than it is efficient. Far better to have a single standard and let everyone conform than to have as many standards as are required, which is to say, no standard at all. Taken ad absurdum, we would strain efficiency if all official functions had to have the capacity to be conducted in Esperanto or Klingon for the two people with those as their native languages.
Language is not just a tool for communication, it is a mapping of ideas into reality. Language introduces an historical bias in favor of its roots. While both Spanish and English are European, and thus impart a European viewpoint on their speakers, the differences are pronounced. Americans have an ingrained trust and loyalty toward the United Kingdom, stemming initially from our common language and smelted in two world wars. We say we share a common history with the British, but we really mean a common language.
When a call comes to a 911 dispatcher, safety demands clarity, and clarity is shattered by a language barrier. The same applies to any interaction with police, fire rescue and emergency medical technicians.
Captain's Quarters has the horrific story of a group of illegal immigrant women forced into prostitution by the "coyotes" with whom they had contracted for passage across the border. It turns out that the coyotes were actually pimps who took their identification and forced them to be used in a way so inhuman that 'prostitution' doesn't quite cover it. The business apparently was conducted all in Spanish. I make no attempt to create a bogeyman here: I believe the business was conducted in Spanish to obscure its purposes.
Not speaking English, the girls were unable to call for help or explain their circumstances.
People who speak the same language trust each other more. Traveling in a foreign country and meeting a person who speaks your language, a level of trust is established immediately. Conversely, speaking in a private language engenders distrust among those who are excluded.
Without a shared language, we rely on translators. Translators must not only convey the nuances of thought between two languages, but they must avoid the temptation to insert their own bias. So we must trust the group speaking the foreign language, and also the translator.
Encouraging a person to speak a language that most others do not is not doing it a favor. Those who cannot fluently speak the dominant language are destined to a life in the underclass.
Employers and employees, lawyers and waitresses, cops and prostitutes are united together in communication. A nation is united by history, culture, and defense of shared territory -- all of which for all practical purposes require a shared language.
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