Shifting America

            Shift in language has been seen consistently over the course of American history. First, the Native Americans were forced to shift from their native language as a way to “civilize” them. Next, the majority of people spoke German in America around the Revolutionary War. Since gaining our independence, America shifted to predominately speaking English. While we were shifting, America was bilingual, speaking both German and English. This can be seen today as immigrants come to America.

            While I was working yesterday, a family of Mexican immigrants bought flowers from me. The mother obviously did not speak English, but her three young children did. The eldest daughter, who was probably in her early teens, completed the transaction and translated for her mother. The children spoke perfect English to each other and me, but they spoke Spanish with their mother. The children will most likely always be bilingual, but their children could shift to English. In this case, they would see a bottom-to-top death of Spanish in their immediate family.

But then again, America could soon be experiencing another shift in language, and those children would never lose Spanish. I personally don’t think America will ever lose English as its primary language and experience another shift, but I do think it will have to make room for other languages. With so many Mexican and other immigrants coming to America, Spanish is becoming a major language. This can be seen in school all around the country. Spanish is quickly becoming a mandatory class for all students, and very young children are learning the language through television shows and other means. I strongly think America will become a bilingual nation within the next 20-or-so years.

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