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National Language Hopes Dashed


Washington, DC — [transmitted by our remote correspondent, Heikke Makkinen] In a blow to Czechs and Finns living in America, the United States Senate voted to declare English the "national language" of the U.S. The vote was approved 63 to 34 last Thursday (18 May).

According to Honza Dudák, spokesperson of the newly established lobbying group BAGUS (Board for the Advancement of Greater Ugro-Finnic and Slavic), Czech and Finnish should have been at the top of many Senators' list of choices. The unofficial opinion of the group is that speaking a "more complex" language makes you smarter and more articulate, and these lobbyists see the language vote as a missed opportunity to improve American education and the image of the United States abroad.

"We hoped that they would acknowledge not only Czechs and Finns currently living in the U.S. by declaring our languages as the official ones, but we had also hoped that they would recognize our great contributions to American culture!" said one observer on the National Mall. "Our languages and cultures have not played a small role," shouted another, "everyone knows Dvořák was the father of American music." [The editor of this blog cannot actually endorse this as a truth about "American" music.] And Lordi, the surprise Finnish winners of Eurovision 2006, may increase pressure in their efforts to establish Finnish as a world language even though parts of their winning song were in English. They want not just a "victory for rock music," says the lead singer, but also a "victory for open-mindedness."

The vote also attracted attention from linguists. "What will they do next, establish an advisory board to defend American English against bad grammar?" scoffed Professor and Grammarian Henry Higgins, who runs a private institute. "Why," he continued, "can't the English teach their children how to speak? The distinction of their verbal class—by which I mean fear of linguistic impurity or degradation—by now should be antique!"

The language debate is only a feather on the albatross that immigration issues have recently become. Even the President seems to be weighted down (as he expressed in no doubt perfect English). The Washington Post reports on President Bush's seeming change of heart:
The Senate action came hours after President Bush, who visited the border town of Yuma, Ariz., asked Congress to approve a $1.95 billion budget request to deploy National Guard troops and 1,000 additional enforcement agents to the U.S.-Mexico border. Bush also endorsed for the first time [but probably not the last] the construction of 370 miles of southern border fences to cut down on illegal immigration.


Also last week, a triple-layered wall along the U.S.-Mexico border was approved. It is rumored to include a "sound barrier." The barrier is considered to be a first line defense against linguistic change that may stealthily sneak across the border. One Will S., who spoke on the condition of anonymity, suspected that the wall may eventually extend all the way to the "coasts of Bohemia."

Related: Laura Swisher’s response.

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