In his classic Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville claimed, “Language is perhaps the strongest and most enduring link which unites men. All the immigrants spoke the same language and were children of the same people.” These common points of origin, symbolized by language, helped to lay the basis of American democracy and made possible “true liberty.” Even as Europe was riven by conflicts between dynasties and over religion, the Americans, exiles though they may have been, carried with them “that fertile germ of free institutions” that “had already taken deep root in English ways.”
This is the sort of insight the most articulate “English-only” advocates point to when they insist that more is at stake than a common language for commerce or for everyday community...
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