It's official: It's English.

September 25, 2012

The commissioners of Carroll County, Maryland, are solemnly considering a measure to make English the official language of their county, following the examples of Frederick County and Queen Anne's County. 

Perhaps the best that can be said of the measure is that it will do little or no harm, having little practical effect. Federal and state regulations will remain unaffected, and likely most business practices too. The shelves of Carroll County shops will continue to carry products with bilingual English/Spanish labeling, English/French when they come from Canada. 

It is a measure that addresses an evil that does not exist. English is, at least for the moment, a world language of greater spread and influence than Latin at its acme.  And the evidence by linguistic and demographic studies is overwhelming that though adult immigrants, like all other adults, have difficulty learning a new language, their children overwhelmingly become fluent. Add to that the ineffectiveness of attempts to legislate language use, exemplified by the French Academy's inability to fend off incursions of English (English!) and the demise of the farcical Queen's English Society in Britain. 

To the extent that such measures have any impact at all, beyond allowing elected officials to profess that they have accomplished something significant, they may reinforce a belief that being monoglot is just fine. That would be sad. 

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