The Educational Linguistics Division (GSE) and the Linguistics Department (SAS), are pleased to welcome:
Professor of English and Linguistics, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and proprietor of The Web of Language
"Speak the language of your flag: America's war on immigrant tongues"
Thursday April 19th at 1:00 pm in GSE 120
This talk traces US restrictions on foreign languages from World War I to today's English-only regulations, arguing that such measures are ineffective for achieving national unity and do not speed the adoption of English by nonanglophones. The Espionage Act of 1917 banned the mailing of foreign-language publications. The "RAISE Act" (S 1720) of 2017 privileges immigrants already fluent in English. Recent language laws and restrictions are as unnecessary and inefficient as the ones that came before. Nonanglophone Americans are already learning English at a pace which equals or exceeds that of previous generations of newcomers. Requiring English of speakers who are already adopting it ignores the irony that English too is an immigrant language: not just in North America, where it appeared in the 17th century, but even in Britain, where it came ashore uninvited in the 5th century and imposed itself on a reluctant native population. A common language did not prevent the United S!
tates from splitting with England in 1776, and it didn't hold the union together in 1861. National unity comes, not from language, but from the willingness of citizens to bind themselves together under a common government.