Read Sowell`s essay, and in his two succinct paragraphs on the topic, you may learn more about slavery and its eradication than all you previously knew on those subjects. At least that`s how it worked for me when I first stumbled upon the piece many years ago.
Recently, I testified before a committee of the Montana legislature in favor of a bill that would mandate our driver`s license written exams be available only in English. Currently, Chinese, Russian, and Spanish versions are also available, despite the fact that Montana has an official-English law. (The actual driving test, however, is conducted only in English, and the applicant can`t bring a translator along for the ride.)
My testimony focused on the safety hazards of having non-English-competent residents driving routinely on the state`s roads. But in our modern times there are a disappointingly large number of soft-headed Montanans who are susceptible to the usual shrieking claims that favoring assimilation and, especially, a common language is "racist" — i.e. the classical "argument" for multiculturalism. So I concluded my testimony with this quotation from Sowell`s gem:
None of this has anything to do with whether English is a better language than some other languages. English is in fact more inconsistent and less melodic than French, for example. But we speak English for the same practical reasons that cause people in China to speak Chinese. Attempts to turn this into an invidious comparisons issue miss the fundamental point that (1) languages exist to serve practical purposes and (2) they serve those purposes better, the more people in the same society speak the same language.If you`ve never read this essay, you`re in for a treat when you do. I can think of few better uses for five minutes of one`s life.