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  • Cited by 5
  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

1 - Language diversity in the USA


The official language of the US is English. But today's immigrants are not learning English as quickly as those of the past – it seems like they don't want to fit in to the American way of life. Language diversity in this country is a recent problem due to unprecedented levels of immigration, and we are at risk that the different languages spoken here threaten our national unity.

These myths regarding language are fairly prevalent in the USA at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Yet all of them are false, and both their underlying premises and their implications are damaging on several levels. They are damaging to intergroup relations because immigrants are accused of lacking the motivation or desire to integrate into mainstream US society and learn English. This often leads others to resent them or accuse them of being unpatriotic. They are damaging to immigrant families in that children who come to school speaking a Language Other than English (often referred to as “LOTEs”) are pressured into erasing that language, which can lead to academic difficulties as well as problems communicating with family members and retaining cultural traditions. They are also damaging to the nation because they squander vast linguistic resources that could benefit the USA economically, diplomatically, and culturally. This introductory chapter will explore each of these topics as it addresses these three common fallacies.