LETTER TO THE EDITOR: We need a common tongue

Question of the Day

Should Congress make English the official language of the U.S.?

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Robert Vandervoort clearly demonstrates a consequence of our lack of a common tongue (“Out of many, one official language,” Commentary, Feb. 21). It’s bad enough that a student at a state-funded college is unable to attend classes where her fellow students speak English. It’s unacceptable that school administrators publicly defamed her, served her with suspension papers and had her escorted off the campus by police because she requested that English be used in class.

Many officials and pundits claim that the United States doesn’t have an official language. If true, then why does Title 8 U.S. Code 1423 (a) (1) state: “No person except as otherwise provided in this subchapter shall hereafter be naturalized as a citizen of the United States upon his own application who cannot demonstrate an understanding of the English language, including an ability to read, write, and speak words in ordinary usage in the English language”? Why require that someone who wants to become an American learn English if it’s not our official language?

Multilingualism in an individual is a beautiful thing. Lack of a common tongue in a society is a recipe for disaster, as Mr. Vandervoort clearly shows.

PATRICK MCGINN

California, Md.

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