clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Sole use of English unwise

Utah House Bill 189 once again proposes forbidding Utah state government to print materials in non-English languages. Why do we so often insist on solving problems with unnecessary legislation, which reduces our flexibility and has many negative effects, which outweigh any good that such laws might accomplish? The present system allows us to budget money for specific government activities or to cut unnecessary programs on a case-by-case basis. Proposed legislation removes that option.

While I lived in another country for two years, I became fairly fluent in the language. However, if asked to review complicated instructions or legal documents, I would have been at a great disadvantage if I were not able to obtain an English translation. The costs quoted by "English-only" proponents of providing materials in other languages are generally the total costs of translation, publishing and distribution. The smallest of these costs is the translation service in many cases, so printing and distributing the same materials to non-English speaking people in English would cost nearly the same.In the first half of this century in Utah, many LDS wards and branches conducted meetings in German or Scandinavian. The first generations actually born here, however, almost always spoke English in their homes. It is ironic that many of those proposing current legislation probably descended from one or more of these hard-working immigrants who contributed greatly to our heritage and our present well-being without ever becoming as competent in English as their neighbors.

Some argue that this bill would actually benefit immigrants by encouraging them to learn English sooner. This false argument seems to be made, not out of true concern for immigrants' well-being, but as a means of soothing some consciences.

Let's be a leader in a global, multicultural society that already uses English as a preferred language but can be served best in some cases by using the knowledge and language tools available to us, rather than outlawing the use of such capability by our government. Please urge lawmakers to vote against HB189 and any similar bills.

Dennis Briscoe

Providence, Cache County