ERIC Number: ED205007
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1978-Jun
Language Status Decisions and the Law in the United States.
Heath, Shirley Brice; Mandabach, Frederick
The status of pluralistic languages in the United States may be traced back to attitudes and policies developed in medieval England, where Norman French, Old English, and Latin were each associated with certain contexts and certain populations. English finally achieved dominant status in all domains, but this achievement came about through cultural and societal, rather than legal, forces. In the United States as well, the status of English was achieved without official declaration. The early history of the United States contains few instances of attempts to restrict the use of other languages (with the exception of the American Indian languages). In fact, up to the end of the Civil War, the United States could well have been called a multilingual society. Toward the end of the 19th century and into the early 20th, many state laws were passed restricting the use of languages other than English, especially in education. Two reasons for this shift were the growing tendency to regard the public school as an institution to create a unified conforming citizenry, and the emergence of "subversive speech" as a crime commonly before the courts. In current discussions over the creation of a national language policy, policy makers should be guided less by a past of restrictive legislation than by a sense of the history behind that legislation. (JB)
Publication Type: Information Analyses; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Conference "Progress in Language Planning: International Perspectives" (Wayne, NJ, April 29-May 1, 1979).