Re: Re[2]: English only legislation

Subject: Re: Re[2]: English only legislation
From: Vicki Rosenzweig <murphy!acmcr!vr -at- UUNET -dot- UU -dot- NET>
Date: Fri, 21 Jan 1994 16:17:33 EST

As far as I know, nobody is saying "you may not learn English" to
either immigrants or native-born citizens whose native language
is not English (but, say, Spanish or Navajo). The question is whether
people will be required to learn English in order to exercise such
rights as voting (you have to know English to be naturalized, but
if you're born here, you're a citizen regardless) and, if charged
with a crime, to understand and participate in the trial.
Beyond that, of course people who want to have business dealings
with people who speak another language will need to either learn
that language or hire a translator: but that applies just as much
to everyone who speaks only English and wants to sell things in
Russia or Hungary as to Spanish-speakers here.

By the way, I keep seeing assertions that we "can't afford"
multi-lingual ballots, or street signs, or what have you. If we're
going to continue this discussion (which still seems to have
little or nothing to do with technical writing), how about some
numbers? Does anyone know what New York City spends to have
bilingual street signs in Chinatown, or whether it brings in
additional tourist dollars? New York has bilingual ballots and
voting machines: but that just means that the label for each
office is two words instead of one: "Governor/Gobernador,"
for example. It may be a slight increase in preparation and
printing costs, but it doesn't come close to doubling the expense,
since there's still only one piece of paper and one print run
for each district.
Vicki Rosenzweig
vr%acmcr -dot- uucp -at- murphy -dot- com
New York, NY

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