A Nation of Languages

Deutsch: JFK 1968, Half Dollar, Rückseite, E P...

Deutsch: JFK 1968, Half Dollar, Rückseite, E PLURIBUS UNUM (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

DISCLAIMER: I am not writing this post to declare U.S.’s superiority in the world.  This post is also NOT political, meaning I am not stating an opinion on any policy that any country should or should adopt.  Thank you for reading.  

This post is a bit of a step out of my usual topic of Language Learning.  Not totally, but a bit.  Tomorrow is the 4th of July here in the U.S. and therefore the day all of us citizens of the U.S.,  celebrate our Independence as a free and independent nation.  Growing up one of my favorite joke was, which countries have the 4th of July?  Answer:  All of them.

When I was younger, partly due to that joke, I was always been more inclined to call it Independence Day and not just “The 4th of July.”  As I have aged, I have even more reasons to call it Independence Day.  It is not called Freedom day or Revolution day, both of which would be appropriate, it is called Independence Day.  A few, crazy, people decided that they wanted a chance to do this on their own.

A Nation of Languages

Even before The U.S. successfully separated itself from the English Empire, it already had a large diversity of mostly European immigrants.  Due to many factors, but one being the fact that the it was an independent nation,  the U.S. became a melting pot of cultures.  It became a self-fulfilling prophecy when congress added the phrase, “E Pluribus Unum,” (which mean from many, one) to the seal of the United States in 1782.

What about now?

The U.S. is still a country of immigrants and therefore a country of Languages.  The sources of where these immigrants come from now may be different from in the early expansion of the U.S., but the concept is still the same: From Many, One.

That said, it does pain me to hear when people are looked down upon for using their ethnic language.  Does using a language outside of English take away from English?  All of you who are 3rd or 4th generation U.S. Citizen, you are all probably from an ancestor who came to this U.S. speaking another language.  Did they learn it?  Probably, but many never learned it to fluency.  Did that keep you from learning English? No!

I have many ancestors who immigrated to this country, but the one that my name sake comes from is Scottish.  Part of me wishes I knew my Scottish ancestry more(as opposed to my Brother-in-law who actually is Scottish) and that includes the Gaelic language.  Does this make me less “American?”  Absolutley not!

In fact, it is what makes me American.  Some may find it weird/annoying that Americans claim ancestry to heritages we are far separated from.  It’s not uncommon for a 4th generation American to say: “I’m Irish” or “I’m Italian” when they are barely more Irish or Italian than I am.  E Pluribus Unum.  We are proud that we are one of the many that makes the one.

Where’s your soapbox?

Ok ok, I don’t want to dwell too long on negatives.  I just wanted to make a point.  The U.S.  is and should always be a Nation of Languages.  This is not something to fear, it’s something to rejoice.  I am proud of my American Heritage.  I am grateful to live in a land of so much diversity, both culturally and linguistically speaking.  This Independence Day I will remember the multicultural heritage that is special about this country.  Happy Independence Day!



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