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Letter to the Editor: English as the Official American Language
The following article was submitted concerning “English as the official American Language:”
My family arrived in Philadelphia, Pa., in 1736. My great-grandfather Amos N Altland, Sr., was a WWI vet and chose to speak PA Dutch not English for his entire life. My grandfather Amos N Altland, Jr., was part of the first generation to speak English as a first language. For almost two hundred years, my family and most of our neighbors chose not to speak English.
English as a first language existed only in the English colonies and not in the United States of America. This country was built by many groups and different cultures speaking many American languages. There never has been a single American language, and there never should be.
This plethora of languages is part of what makes Americans great. Our language tell us who we are and where we come from. These are not foreign languages but are non-English American languages. In some cases, this plethora of languages has even helped with the defense of this nation. For example, the use of Navajo as an unbreakable code in WWII.
We should never be afraid or embarrassed to speak a language other than English. Those who harass or bully someone for speaking a non-English language should be embarrassed because they allow their fear of others to justify their discrimination.
So, whether you speak Cherokee, Creole, Hawaiian, Navajo, Pennsylvania Dutch, Swahili, Yiddish, Yupik, or any other language, speak it proudly and often. English speakers do not be afraid to stand with people who do not. Remember your language is just one small part of what has made America great.
No one has ever told my family to speak English or go home, and I will not do it to others, nor will I sit idly by while somebody else does.
Kim J, Altland, Spring Grove, Pa.
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