OFF TOPIC Spanish in the USA [was Re: Explanation of this Python language feature?]

Chris Angelico rosuav at
Mon Mar 31 07:44:56 CEST 2014

On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 4:23 PM, Mark H Harris <harrismh777 at> wrote:
> The main point of the link is the status on English as an official language.
> 28 out of 50 states have legislated English as the official language;
> meaning, that you either speak and write English, or you're going to have a
> really tough time participating in culture, business, government, and
> recreation.

Considering how much is done to ensure that illiterate people can
still comprehend critical information (important signage, warnings,
traffic directions, etc, etc, etc), I think we can assume that someone
who speaks some language other than English will still manage to do a
lot of things. Plus, plenty of official documents are available in
many languages; the legislated "official language" just means that the
English version is the only one that is guaranteed to be there. Go to
any one of the states you've mentioned, where English is the sole
official language, and pick up any government form - something fairly
important, like applying for a passport or something. How many
languages is it available in? They might all be on the same form, or
maybe you have to explicitly request it in Spanish, but I expect it'll
be translated into several non-official languages for the convenience
of those whose English isn't as good as their (switch to GLaDOS voice)
Insert Subject Native Language Here (switch voice back).

But none of this has anything to do with the original point, namely
that there are people who communicate in other languages. Even if you
have to learn English for the sake of official documents, you won't
necessarily want to chat with your friends in English. If you pick up
the phone and talk to someone, you can use whatever language you want;
if you switch to email, chances are you still can. And that's
something that's been true since the dawn of email, which predates
Unicode by a slight margin... of a decade or so.


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