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The Language Freedom Project
Transcript of The Language Freedom Project
History of Linguistic Oppression
What is happening now?
US census (2010): 346,000 people over age 5 in Utah speak a language other than English at home
127,000 of these are native Spanish-speakers in SLC alone
Sets a precedence for multilingualism
Indian Boarding Schools
By 1973 an estimated 60,000 native american children were enrolled. This became the government solution to the "indian problem"
Provide (marginal) job skills
Introduction to English language
Families were torn apart
Restrictions on voting
Excluded the black population from voting
This was unconstitutional according to the 14th Amendment
This was not partially solved until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and Voting Rights Act of 1965
If Native-American children spoke their own language they were humiliated, beaten, and, and their mouths were washed out with lye soap
English-only and WWI
5,000 German-speaking Mennonites fled the country to Canada
Impact on ethnic identity of German American population had instantaneous and longer-term effects
From 1910 to 1920, the number of people claiming German birth dropped from 2.3 million to 1.7 million
Linguistic minorities become systematically marginalized through legislation, and are instantly demoted to an identity of abnormality.
Nationality, Race, Language
Public education has only recently started to fund dual language immersion programs, but most commonly only offers courses in "standard" English.
People who speak "non-standard" varieties of English (African American English, Chicano English etc.) are more likely to be perceived as illiterate and are treated differently in class because of it
English-only language policy is a conscious act to colonize spaces of interaction for only English speakers.
According to ACLU, 17 states have English-Only policies, including Utah.
42 states offer the driver's exam in more languages than English
Utah is not one of those
Language Freedom Project
Petition government to offer driver's exam in Spanish
Empower the largest minority group in the state to provide themselves with reliable transportation, which is critical to maintaining employment
Open the door for similar rights to be extended to other linguistic minority groups
Create a state whose legislature reflects the increasingly diverse community it is supposed to represent.
In 2007: Utah launched a state-owned Spanish-language
The 10-page site, which was part of a redesign of Utah's 400-page English-language site, provided information on topics such as taxes, health services and driver licenses.
Members of our public accused the state of violating the English Only Initiative.
2 weeks later, the website was immediately taken down.
Promotes unity through understanding of difference
Breaks down systems of linguistic oppression
Develop a historical context for linguistic oppression
Identify current forms of oppression through English-only policies
Introduce the Language Freedom Project and its' implications
Bear, Charla. (2008, May 12). "American Indian
The rising generation felt a loss of Indian identity
Indian Boarding Schools
Many native American languages were lost
English-only in WWI
standard English ideologies in the U.S.". TESOL Quarterly, 30(3), 511-535.
boarding schools haunt many". Morning Edition. NPR. Radio transcript.
Wiley, T. G., & Lukes, M. (1996). "English-only and
Widespread persecution of German Speakers
Ministers whipped, tarred and feathered by mobs for preaching in German
Schools and churches pillaged
Restrictions on voting
Wiley, T. G. (2004). "Language planning, language
policy, and the English-only movement". in R.E. Finegan & J. R. Rickford [eds], Language in the U.S.A.: Themes for the Twenty-First Century. Cambridge University Press
Purpose- to deny voting rights to black citizens
White citizens were exempted
Administered orally by white men, who could fail someone, even when that person answered all questions correctly
Included questions such as "How many bubbles are in a bar of soap?"
Purpose- Unity, patriotism, etc.
State constitutional amendments and other laws
Printed election materials and ballots provided only in English
Bar the provision of multilingual voting assistance except as required by the Voting Rights Act
Disenfranchise large portions of the population (in practice if not officially)
The disenfranchisement of non-English speaking citizens". Yale Law Journal, 97, 1419-
Guerra, S. (1988). "Voting rights and the Constitution:
Caro, R. A. (2002). Master of the Senate: The Years of
Lyndon Johnson. Random House Digital, Inc.
"The Linguistics Club for Undergraduates"
Green, Rosina (1997). "English with an accent: language,
ideology, and discrimination in the United States".
Alim, H. Samy., and Geneva Smitherman. Articulate
While Black: Barack Obama, Language, and Race in the U.S. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2012. Print
This articulation between nationalism and language works to perpetuate racism. People of color are viewed categorically as less-intelligent or literate.
It functions on a logic of killing off or out-competing other languages.