One of the big issues surrounding the illegal immigration debate is language. Here in Tennessee, legislation has been sponsored to limit the languages of state documents to English only, and there have been other issues involving foreign language books in public school libraries. It seems to be old reliable for anti-immigration people–attack the fact that immigrants can’t/don’t/won’t speak English.
My take on the argument of “them farners need to learn to talk English”–it’s a load of crap. Language is ultimately dictated by one thing. MONEY. Even where there is absolutely no desire to assimilate, legal and illegal immigrants of any country can be motivated to learn a new language for pure economic gain. He who holds the cash determines the language–let the market decide what language will be spoken. If you want my money, your chances of getting it are much better if you speak my language.Â If I want to do business with you, it is to my advantage to learn your language.Â It really couldn’t be more simple.
As an example, here’s a situation that I’ve actually experienced firsthand. Let’s say you are in a relatively small town in Asia on business. Not only is your ability to communicate verbally limited, but your ability to communicate through reading and writing is taken away almost entirely. To make matters worse, you are completely unfamiliar with any of the foods in the restaurants surrounding your hotel.
It is impossible to tell anyone in a restaurant what you want to eat, much less decipher a menu. Even if you could “read” the menu, you’d have no idea what you were ordering. But then…
You wander into a restaurant six blocks from your hotel and are greeted by the propietor with a friendly, “Hey, how’s it going? C’mon in!”
Unless the food is absolutely disgusting, thisÂ will probably be the restaurant in which you will eat most of your meals. You will daily walk past several restaurants with superior food and more reasonable prices to get to this restaurant. The ability to speak English gives them an advantage over their competition.
Let’s now imagine that this restaurant builds a reputation amongst the Americans who travel to this town on business as the one restaurant where English is spoken. What kind of an advantage would exist then? The owner would actually be able to price his ability to speak English into every meal.
As is the case with most issues, the market should decide language.Â We don’t need laws or regulations on what languages are used here.Â We already have a national language.Â Money.