ERIC Number: ED235293
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980
Reference Count: 0
Historical Aspects of Bilingualism in the United States.
Attitudes and policies toward bilingualism in the United States have always been affected by political considerations. Although controversy over bilingualism is political in principle, it is a particular kind of political controversy, that is, a manifestation of a new stage in the history of an even larger controversy over the meaning of citizenship. The history of doctrines of citizenship in the United States documents the conflict between citizenship--a status indicating equal and full membership in the body politic--and stratification--indicating the existence of something less than equality outside the realm of the polity. To the extent that language formally affects the process by which one may legally acquire citizenship or to the extent that an attitude toward language expresses prejudice toward the group using that language, members of the group may feel aggrieved that the equality implicit in their status as citizens is belied by the inequality of their lives. In the United States, the closeness of the relation between language and citizenship was intensified by two factors of history (1) the importance of immigration; and (2) the use of English as a major test for determining loyalty to what was seen at the particular time as American beliefs. The debate over bilingualism is, therefore, a manifestation of two larger controversies: the conflict between the equality of citizenship and the inequality of stratification, and the conflict between citizenship as full membership in the body politic and alienship as the status of those who are not or may not be admitted. (CMG)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - General
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Columbia Univ., New York, NY. Center for Social Sciences.
Note: A publication of the Immigration Research Program. Type is light and may not reproduce well.