The Economist (official group for The Economist newspaper)

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Immigration and language

Manager Top Contributor

In the traditional story, immigrants back in the good old days wanted to, and did in fact, learn English. But this is not really so. Immigrant languages probably persisted longer in America a century ago than they do today. And one language in particular persisted in large, coherent pockets in America for more than half a century: Germanbi

  • Comment (5)
  • February 8, 2013
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  • Bernardo C.


    Bernardo C.

    Research Fellow at International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI)

    This sounds like a contradiction:

    "...other languages, threatening English's status as a unifying force behind America's motto, e pluribus unum..."

    So, what language is America's motto written on?

  • David S.


    David S.

    Professor at Defense Acquisition University

    But each of the co-official languages maps to a region which is trying to leave Spain. This seems to indicate that keeping several official languages reveals a problem.

  • Joseph Q.


    Joseph Q.

    B.S. International Business

    English is the national language of USA, but NOT the official language; so, at least immigrants won't have our tongue removed if we speak our native languages! However, I highly agree immigrants should speak, read and write the main language of their new fatherland around the world.

  • Ian M.


    Ian M.

    Owner, Integra XP

    @DavidSwinney multiple languages hardly indicates much. Spain also has Gallego in Galicia, which is not in independentist. Wales, scotland and cornwall (tiny numbers though they are) all have their own languages, but only scotland seeks independence. Ireland has Gaelic and English but the gaelic speaking areas are no different from the rest of the country. France has basque, landaise, alsatian, provencal, Occitan and corse - with just the corsicans being serious about independence. India is famous for having a wealth of languages but it has little if any separatist issues. Even the US has the various indian languages and french derivations not mentioned above, without having any inclination to pull itself apart.

    More than one language is possibly the norm rather than the exception.

  • David A.


    David A.

    Digital Media, Consumer Electronics, and Venture Capital executive

    Language is a proxy for racism, clear and simple. Arguments for making English the national language of the US have always been used as leverage to disenfranchise voting blocks in non-European immigrant communities - and is the constitutional reason we do not have a national language in the US.