The current debate in the United States over official language policy has precedents in other countries. In the ancient world, all major states and empires were multilingual, as were the major medieval and early modern states. Today many important countries are multilingual. Indeed, the equation "one nation = one language" is a relatively recent invention. Advocates of the officialization of English in the United States argue that the country risks being "torn apart" by multilingualism, but such countries as Australia and the Soviet Union offer models for the successful management, even promotion, of multilingualism. Where language is used to obstruct access to jobs, education, progress, and power, conflict can arise. The answer is to maintain parity, not to impose a single language on all.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Linguistics and Language