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'English-Only Rules Are Un-American'

June 08, 1985

So Del Olmo believes the movement to make English the official language of our country is un-American, and that it results from "fear of immigrants and foreigners." May I remind him that the honorary leader of this movement, S. I. Hayakawa, is himself a "foreigner," having come from Canada and being of Japanese ancestry. His background as a semanticist has given him valuable insights into the role of language in a culture. He has long been convinced of its power to unite; or, in the case of multiple languages, to create disharmony and conflict. For the most part, history seems to prove him right.

The role of government should be to assist in assimilation, not to accommodate those who do not want to learn English and who resist assimilation. This concept is our heritage and has been accepted by almost all former immigrant groups. Currently much of the Hispanic leadership, in particular, seems to be opposed.

Beliefs such as Del Olmo's is fortunately the minority view. Despite The Times' editorializing against Proposition 38 last year, it won by a margin of 71% to 29%. That should augur well for Assemblyman Frank Hill's (R-Whittier) bill, AB 201 to designate English the official language of California.

Five states have already adopted such an amendment, and at least nine other states have introduced legislation to do so. In addition, the English Language Amendment has been reintroduced in both houses of Congress. This activity attests to the majority belief that at a time of unprecedented immigration, we need more than ever to reassert the importance of the English language as a unifying force.

DOROTHY BLOOM

Santa Monica

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