Myths about ProEnglish

Myth: In 1776, German came within one vote of becoming America’s official language instead of English. Fact: Congress never voted on a proposal to make German the official language. On January 13, 1795, Congress considered a proposal to print the federal laws in German as well as English.  This proposal was not to give German official status.  During the debate, a motion to adjourn failed by 1 vote. There was never a vote on an actual bill.

Myth: Official English is merely symbolic and has no effect.


Fact: Official English affects all government documents, proceedings, and actions.  Official English gives no person the right to demand government services in a language other than English and more importantly, if there is a conflict between an English version of a document and the same document in another language, the English version controls.


Myth: Official English would deny criminal defendants of their right to an interpreter.


Fact: Any official English bill promoted by ProEnglish would provide a specific exception for “actions that protect the rights of … criminal defendants.”


Myth: An informational form regarding the outbreak of the bird flu or another disease would violate official English.


Fact: Any official English bill promoted by ProEnglish would provide a specific exemption for “actions … that protect the public health.”


Myth: Official English would prohibit the teaching of foreign languages in schools.


Fact: The enactment of official English would not affect the teaching of foreign languages. ProEnglish encourages the teaching of foreign languages in the education system.  All official English legislation that ProEnglish promotes provides an exception for the teaching of languages.


Myth: Official English would prohibit the speaking of languages other than English in homes and religious settings.


Fact: Official English refers only to government actions and not the language spoken in the home or in places of worship. The Constitution guarantees free speech and religious freedom.  That would not be affected by official English.


Myth: Most nations have not declared an official language.


Fact: Ninety-two percent of the world’s countries have at least one official language.


Myth: Most immigrants oppose official English legislation.


Fact: 91% of foreign-born Latino immigrants agree that learning English is essential to succeed in the U.S. and more than 2/3 of Hispanics favor making English the official language of the U.S.


Myth: At the Constitutional Convention, the Founding Fathers debated and decided against making English the official language.


Fact: The Founding Fathers did not enact English as the official language because they didn’t need to.  All 55 delegates to the Convention spoke English and an overwhelming majority of the American population did as well.  They just took it for granted that English was the official language and saw no need for legislation.