Introductory Note: I am fascinated by non-binding resolutions. This event described in this post, which remains vivid in my mind although it took place ten years ago, is a prime example why.
Village Elders Endorse Symbolic Metaphysical Measure To Unify Population; Opposition Crushed
In Compromise, Board Agrees To Speak Very LOUDLY and S-l-o-w-l-y To Furriners
On 19 June 2007, the philosopher-kings and philosopher-queens of the Carpentersville, Illinois Village Board voted 5-2 to designate English the city-state’s official language, thus passing a non-binding resolution that confers upon this decision an authority and prestige equal to that of legislative actions establishing National Pickle Day, Backpack Safety Month, and Dairy Goat Awareness Month as official commemorations. In the order of things, this sort of affirmation is only a tad less – well, resolute than those declarations that made mistletoe, a parasite, Oklahoma’s state flower and “State Sovereignty-National Union,” which would be a swell name for a bank, the Illinois State Motto.
Language Diversity Now #1 Evil; Global Warming, North Korea Drop To #2 and #3
In a discussion preceding the vote, Trustee Judy Sigwalt, the leader of the legislative effort that resulted in the English As An Official Language resolution, observed1
The best thing we can do is promote teaching English
Ms Sigwalt was apparently unmoved by the warnings from Village department heads, including the police chief and community development director, who felt their work and relationship with the 40% of the town’s population who are Hispanic would be hampered by the resolution.2
She was also unphazed by the vision of angry mobs of local math, science, shop, driver’s education, and physical education teachers angered by the blatant favoritism inherent in her support of teaching English.
Ms Sigwalt, according to the Chicago Tribune, went on to explain that
Having several languages spoken ‘is what’s tearing this country apart and my community.’3
With admirably inarguable logic, the Trustee concluded,
Even though a resolution is just fluff, we are still making a statement
Word has it that following their last legislative efforts dealing with Iraq, the Democrats in the US Congress are now negotiating with Ms Sigwalt to adopt that line as their party’s official slogan.
Heck Of A Guy Editorial Position: Resolution A Good Start On Language Purification But Falls Short
While it is intuitively obvious that declaring English the official Village Language will instantly and painlessly eradicate any and all problems caused by those miscreants who preferentially (and, no doubt, perversely) converse in Latvian, Russian, Spanish, Wolof, Arabic, Portuguese, Farsi, etc., it appears to have escaped the notice of the Carpentersville Board that the goals of unification, bucolic peacefulness, and clean streets as well as the much desired onset of an era of generic good will can hardly be reached while the Northern Illinois Empire remains under siege by those forces of evil who happen to speak something that is technically classified as English, a nefarious group that includes but is not limited to
- Effete, pointy-headed East Coast liberal intellectuals
- Sun-tanned California gadabouts
- Birkenstock-wearing, euthanasia-supporting health food nuts from the Northwest
- Arkansas rednecks and Missouri hillbillies
- Purveyors of hip-hop from every urban center
- The Canadian menace poised for invasion only a few miles to the north
Clearly a more restrictive definition of official language is required. First, dialects and accents not native to the area within a 100 mile radius of Carpentersville should be outlawed. In addition, an official Village Vocabulary with no words of more than two syllables and no slang terms developed after 1967 should be mandated for all written and spoken communication in order to ferret out those la-di-da smart alecks showing off their fancy-schmancy big words and those whippersnappers doing that jive-talk. Further, once the detection technology is available, humor and (especially) irony should be forbidden. Then and only then, can true unity prevail.
First, freedom isn’t free.4 There are expenses involved in hiring and training the Language Police to recognize violations, purchasing and maintaining equipment for monitoring all conversations, publications, and broadcasts, and increasing the court system to handle the judicial matters attendant to these laws. The public will also bear increased costs of labor and goods with the departure of foreign workers. Not all the economic news, however, is negative. The cost of publishing will no doubt decrease with the elimination of diacriticals such as tildes, cedillas, and the dreaded umlaut that are used predominantly in non-English phrases.
Further, difficult decisions lie ahead: Are euphemisms to be banned? Is American Sign Language acceptable? And there is the crucial issue of determining which language a mime is not speaking.
Of course, any significant change, however beneficial, creates opposition, and Carpentersville’s new resolution is no exception, nor is it limited to that from the Village Police Chief and other department heads mentioned above.
For example, Trustee Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski has stated, “I agree we pass resolutions … that are good for the whole community, but when the resolution singles out 40 percent of the community [the Hispanic portion of the Carpentersville population], this is not good for the whole community.”
[Note to Carpentersville Language Czar: It would probably be wise to eliminate hyphenated names and names that end in vowels from the Official Village Vocabulary.]
And one has to wonder if there are not those who, taking note that the Village Board has now set the precedent of designating an official language and thus established their authority to do so, aspire to win enough votes to elect a majority to the Board and then change the official language from English to something more in keeping with their own culture and heritage – or, even better, something more in keeping with ones snarky attitude.
Finally, Bill Sarto, the Carpentersville Village President, who is on record opposing the resolutions, has declared,
I think there will be people who misinterpret what this means. Some residents may feel that because we passed this, only English can be spoken in Carpentersville. It could cause some problems.
Well, as they say, Que Sera Sera
Note: Originally posted Jun 22, 2007 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of AllanShowalter.com
- It should be noted that, even before the passage of this measure, a time when presumably Ms Sigwalt could have phrased those pronouncements to the press in, say, Greek, Esperanto, or French, she nonetheless chose English as her medium. [↩]
- MSNBC/WMAQ-TV 20 June 2007 [↩]
- As of the time of publication, the Heck Of A Guy research staff has been unable to discover if this profound insight and the simple solution to national dissension it offers has already resulted in the formal nomination of Ms Sigwalt as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize [↩]
- And freedom’s not just another word for nothing left to lose – if that “another word” is in a foreign language [↩]