POS334-L: THE RACE AND ETHNICITY BOOK REVIEW DISCUSSION LIST
James Crawford, "HOLD YOUR TONGUE: Bilingualism and the Politics of
English Only"(Addison-Wesley, 1993)
Subject: Review: Crawford's HOLD YOUR TONGUE (Long)
Subject: Review of "Hold Your Tongue" by James Crawford
Subject: review of HOLD YOUR TONGUE (baker]
Date: Thu, 5 May 1994 13:41:26 -0500
From: Laura Long, email@example.com
Subject: Review: Crawford's HOLD YOUR TONGUE (Long)
Review of James Crawford, HOLD YOUR TONGUE
Reviewed by Laura Long, firstname.lastname@example.org
Illinois State University
"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." If
Shakespeare is right, why is there a growing movement to make
English the official language of the United States? What is it
about language that makes it such an explosive issue? In HOLD YOUR
TONGUE, James Crawford claims that English is often used as a
shield by interest groups concerned with keeping white Americans in
control. In other words, "language" really means "race."
According to Crawford, the group spearheading the English-only
movement, US English, is fearful of the influx of Third World
immigrants and wants to make sure that immigrants assimilate into
the dominant culture by completely abandoning their native
languages to speak English. To achieve this goal, US English wants
English to be declared the official language of the United States.
Crawford is right to oppose this attempt to stifle other
languages. Free speech, English or otherwise, is Constitutionally
protected. A main thrust of US English's campaign is to ban all
languages except for English in government affairs. But such a ban
would cheat many citizens out of their rights. While naturalized
US citizens are required to have some knowledge of English, natural
born citizens are not. And even the English the naturalized
citizens are required to know is often not extensive enough to help
them decipher referenda or unemployment forms. People ought to
learn to speak and read English as soon as possible so they can be
independent and have better job opportunities, but in the meantime,
they should not be denied the right to meaningfully participate in
government or to receive the government services which they help
provide with their own taxes.
Unfortunately, Crawford feels provision of bilingual ballots,
etc. can only realistically be provided to large groups of non-
English speakers, like Hispanics. But civil rights should not be
based on group size. A person who speaks Tagalog has just as much
a right to understand the referenda he/she is voting on as does a
person who speaks Spanish. While cost may get in the way of
putting the language of every non-English speaking voter on the
ballot, other provisions, such as a toll free number for a
translator, should be made.
It is on the method of teaching non-native English speakers
that Crawford and I part company. Crawford advocates teaching
limited English proficient (LEP) students through transitional
bilingual education (TBE), where students are taught English for an
hour or so every day, and they spend the rest of the day learning
other subjects in their native language. This technique is
designed to promote the student's use of both languages and to
bolster his/her self esteem by validating the language and culture
of the student's family.
But structured immersion, or English as a second language
(ESL), in which students spend an hour or so a day learning English
and learn the rest of their subjects in English, also works to
promote self esteem. But it promotes self esteem through
achievement rather than culture, through preparing LEP children to
compete against their English speaking classmates as soon as
possible. At the same time, ESL avoids the institutionalized
segregation that TBE, with its separate classes in native
languages, requires. A good way to break down barriers between
children is to foster association between them, not separate them
for the majority of the day.
Crawford asks, "What difference does it make whether they
[aspirations of retaining cultural identity] are pursued in public
rather than private bilingual programs?" (130) The difference is
that the government is not responsible for maintaining everyone's
culture; such maintenance may be important to individual growth,
but it is the responsibility of the family or individual. If the
family is not willing to preserve its own culture, why should
government take up the slack? If government is responsible for
maintaining native languages, is it also responsible for
maintaining immigrants' language and customs?
Given the increasing globalization of our economy,
bilingualism in and of itself is actually an asset, but to be
successful in the United States, English skills must come first.
By law the federal government spends 75% of its bilingual education
funds on TBE, but in 1990, the dropout rate of Hispanics (who make
up 70% of American LEP students) was 40% and the education gap
between whites and Hispanics was growing. (See John Dillin "Report
Sees Cause for Concern over Education of US Hispanics" Christian
Science Monitor 7/18/90, 9) Society's first responsibility is to
help limited English proficient students out of the ghetto and into
the job market. We apparently do not have the resources to give
Hispanics the basic job-getting skills they need. Money spent on
promoting culture could be better spent on job training.
Perhaps, Crawford argues, but if you agree that bilingualism
is a valuable economic resource, why allow children to forget their
mother tongue in grade school only to reteach them a second
language in high school? The answer is that LEP students may or
may not have an opportunity to apply for a job where they can use
their native language, but in any job, they are going to have to be
able to use English, and TBE does not seem to be doing the trick.
A 1990 study by the Massachusetts Board of Education found that ESL
students were able to compete in English with native-born speakers
by second grade while TBE students were still in special classes
until seventh grade. (See Rosalie Pedalino Porter "Language Trap,"
Washington Post, 4/22/90, B3) Further, the native language of a
child may not necessarily be a great asset in the job market if it
is, say, Kurdish, rather than Japanese. And ESL does not preclude
the development of the native tongue; children can still learn
language and culture from their parents.
Crawford advocates using bilingual education not only to
preserve prevalent bilingual languages but to create more bilingual
speakers so that endangered languages, like many Native American
dialects, will not die out. If a language is dying out, then it
can be of little aid in helping a student get a job and thus its
preservation falls solely within the province of the family. In an
odd twist, Crawford speaks glowingly of a Hawaiian program which
uses IMMERSION to preserve the Hawaiian language. Apparently,
immersion is acceptable as long as it is not being used to teach
English. Crawford uses a similar double standard in his criticism
of English Only advocate Kathryn Bricker, saying, "Bricker has no
training or experience in the subject; her career has consisted of
advocacy for English Only and immigration restrictions" and that
"bona fide experts in second-language acquisition tend to have
little patience with these simplistic debates or their media
impresarios." (210) But Crawford himself does not hold a doctorate
in bilingual education or linguistics. He is just a journalist,
one of the media impresarios he mentions. If he is qualified to
write a book about bilingualism, why isn't Kathryn Bricker?
Finally, Crawford ignores degrees of opposition to
bilingualism, focusing solely on what I see as an extremist group,
US English. One can oppose "native language maintenance" within
the schools without being a xenophobic racist. Immersing children
in English is not necessarily done with the evil intent of wiping
the children's cultural slate clean; people who advocate ESL can
actually be doing so with the children's best interests at heart.
Cultural and linguistic development enriches all of us, but our
first responsibility is to see that people are equipped to survive
independently, which in the United States entails a thorough
knowledge of English, and government-sponsored bilingualism is not
always the best route to take.
Date: Tue, 14 Feb 1995 11:52:04 -0600
From: "petrita salazar"
Subject: Review of "Hold Your Tongue" by James Crawford
Book Review of James Crawford,
"HOLD YOUR TONGUE: Bilingualism and the Politics of English Only"
Illinois State University
The United States has faced an influx of immigration from other countries
that carries with it many linguistic implications. In the past few decades,
Spanish-speaking immigrants from Mexico, Cuba, Puerto Rico and other Latin
American countries, in addition to immigrants from Asian countries have
migrated to the Unites States in increasing numbers. This has caused a
considerable amount of concern among English-speaking, Anglo-Americans, so
much, that in some states, legislatures have gone so far as to declare
English the "Official Language".
James Crawford discusses the efforts of the "English Only" movement
to establish English as the "official" language of the United States.
He explores the politics of the debate, and discusses how politics has
played a key role in the movement.
Crawford adresses several important issues throughout the book, some
implied and some officially stated, that question whether or not
bilingualism or multilingualism is a hindrance to America, or a significant
economic resource through its promotion of ethnic diversity. Many opponents
to the English Only movement, claim that "English Plus" is a feasible
alternative in which Amercians should be recommended at best, to learn at
least one language, other than their native tongue. However, it seems that
the idea of forcing Americans to learn another language is imposing on them
the same impositions that their counterparts (English Only) seek to impose
on minority populations. Proponents for the English Only movement claim
that newcomers should be expected to learn English, for their own good, as
well as the country's good. The question seems to be " What's racist about
that?" Crawford does not pronounce this as racist, but states that the
issue is one of bilingual accomodations, not assimilation.
While reading the book, Crawford gives several questions to ponder.
1. Should government be able to provide minorities, resources and
accomodations, as needed, to ease the immigrants' transition into
2. Should there be a right to certain services in minority tongues?
3. SHold public sector bilingualism be banned by law?
4. Is language the only bond that keeps Americans together?
5. Just what exactly is the purpose of declaring English the official
language? (What is the point?)
6. Are immigrants better off to learn English as quickly as possible?
7. SHould government policy encourage quick assimilation into the
From these questions one can pull out a common theme or purpose, and
that is the attempt to make the reader decide whether or not the United
States needs to make English its official language. Crawford asserts, and
does so well, that it does not. He postulates that most foreign-born
immigrants eventually learn English, because speaking English connotes a
sense of accomplishment and success that most minorities seek to obtain.
Therefore, it is not necessary to force these minorities to learn to speak
English by declaring it the "official language" because they will do so on
their own, and coercion many times leads to resentment. Crawford asserts
that by declaring English as the official language, the government is
forcing a langugage on a group of people, which in turn may cause a great
deal of hostilities from that group. He basically states that "English
Only" is an unnecessary movement of legislation, only brought on by those
who are paranoid that the Spanish-speaking minorities will soon become so
strong and force their language on the English-speaking majority, and
English will somehow get lost in the turmoil. Crawford is correct in
asserting that this fear is totally unfounded, and there is no real threat
to the loss of the English langugage, however, goes a little bit too far in
assuming that all supporters of the English Only movement are supporting
the movement because of bigotry or racism, or some kind of paranoia that
the English language is fighting a losing battle against foreign tongues.
Crawford discusses the argument made by a powerful organization (U.S.
English) that lobbies for the English only legislation. He claims that the
"English Only" movement gains support by instilling a false fear in Anglo-
Americans that they will somehow lose their Americanism if athey allow those
of foreign tongues to speak their language freely. The U.S. English thus
asserts that allowing these various ethnic groups to speak their native
tongues, puts the United States at risk for interethnic conflict, and that
by promoting English and English only, our nation will pull together as one
happy nation, under one flag and one language, and will prevent conflict
that arises with official bilingualism.
Crawford asserts that bilingualism is fundamental to today's society
in the United States. He does so by tracing the English Only movement.
He goes all the way back to the adoption of the United States Constituition
and directs attention to the fact that athe word "english" appears nowhere
in any draft of athe Constitution (P.27). He arrives at the conclusion that
had our Founding Fathers intended for there to be an official lnaguage, they
would have announced it at that time, because the dominion of English would
have had the same threat, if not more, than that of today. He makes the
comparison between German-Americans then, and Hispanic-Amercians now, in
which each minority group represents the same population percentage, yet
there are fewer non-English speaking Hispanics now, than were Germans then.
So where does the threat come from? Is it possible that people are more
prejudice against Hispanics now than they were against Germans then, or
have people just become more paranoid, and less secure in who they are?
Crawford asserts that there were more tongues spoken in the 1700's
(500 - 1,000) in North America than there are today. Early settlers
found it pertinent to survival to learn local dialects from those
around them. Fluency in more than one language was commonplace. However,
that is not to say that the Founders welcomes large scale immigration by
non-English speakers (p. 39) for fear that too many immigrants from one area
would bring with them principles of the government they sought to leave behind,
and attempt to fuse them into the government ascribed by our Founders. Some
areas were more accomodating than others, but there seemed to be a strong
insistence that immigrants had a duty to learn English.
World War I, according to Crawford, caused an enormous growth in
subversive attitudes toward minorities, especially Germans. It was at this
time that the government decided to promote a policy that provided
opportunities for newcomers to learn Engllish, but those who failed to do so
in five years would be deported. In the words of T. Roosevelt "If a man
tries to keep segregated with men of his own origin, and separated from the
rest of America, then he isn't doing his part as an American:. Thus
began the ever-controversial "English Only" campaign that has proliferated
into today's society.
Crawford furthers his exploration of the history of the "English
Only" movement through his discussion of the influx of Hispanic immigrants
in the past few decades. He probes into the imigration of Cuban refugess in
the 1960's to the vote in favor of adopting English as the official
language in Miami, shortly after the Castro's release of the marielitos. By
the 1970's, Hispanics of all kinds dominated Miami's population, and the
English-speaking Americans virtually found themselves out of place in their
homeland. In other words, they were treated like foreigners in their own
land. Tensions mounted until English speaking natives of Miami passed an
"English Only" order, in 1980. The sentiment in Miami was "If you want to
speak Spanish, go back where you came from". It was expressed by Enos
Schern as cited in Crawford:
How do you defend taking tax dollars and dispensing
them for Spanish speakers, not caring about the right of
160 other ethnic groups?
If all people are to be treated equal, then how can you defend equality by
catering to Spanish speakers and ignoring the rest. If you are going to
give something to one ethnic group, you have to give it to all ethnic groups,
and so the debate of "English Only" continued.
Crawford then discusses how proponents to English Only use the past few
decades of turmoil in Canada, between the French and the English, as
an example of how devastating an effect bilingualism can have on a country.
However, Crawford warns that Canada's separatist movement cannot and should
not be used as an example of what would happen if the United States accepts
bilingualism. Crawford states " this is about as insightful as blaming
religion for troubles in Northern Ireland, and calling for a crackdown on
Catholicism in the United States (p. 234). Crawford seems to be grasping at
straws to present the reader with a worthwhile anomaly. Despite his warning
against making comparisons, Crawford does just that several pages later when
discussing the success of multi-lingualism in Australia, apparently with the
hopes of showing the differences of the effects of bi/multi-lingualism in
All in all, Crawford's thoughtful exploration of the motives and
assumptions is quite thought provoking. He discusses both sides of the
argument to a certain degree, but tends to lean quite explicitly as an
opponent to the "English Only" movement. Whatever the case may be, Crawford
poses some serious questions that are in need of answers.
Date: Mon, 20 Feb 1995 10:29:43 -0600
From: "ashaki daneen baker"
(by way of email@example.com (Gary Klass))
Subject: review of HOLD YOUR TONGUE (baker]
Review of HOLD YOUR TONGUE : Bilingualism and the Politics
of "English only" By James Crawford.
Illinois State University
February 17, 1995
With the abolishment of the immigration quota system in 1965
there has been a influx of immigration from Asia, Latin America, and Africa.
The result of this new
trend or wave of immigrants has caused a radical"protect our own"
mentality to rise in the U.S. This can be evidence by looking at
California passing of proposition 187. Proposition 187 made it illegal to
educated and provide medical cover for illegal immigrant unless it was an
emergency. In addition to propostion 187, several states have enacted laws
declaring English as the official language, and others have movements that
promote the declaration of English as the official language.
Crawford's "Hold Your Tongue: Bilingualism and the Politics of
English only," addresses this issue, the basic question of the
book is "Should English be made the official language of the
U.S.?" Crawford asserts that No English need not become the
official Language of the U.S.
The book basically follows the development of the
English only movement both at the state and national level.
Crawford use of Antedotes can sometimes mislead the
reader, it is hard to tell whether he is taking a position for or
against declaring English the official language. Crawford points
out that the opponents of the English only movement are composed
of a diversified group. He also achieves a cross-cultural
analysis by using different groups of immigrants, to express the
centralization of how the English only movements focus on the
non-assimilation of some groups. Crawford's first point is to
systematically refute the igorant assumptions of English only
English is the strongest common bond that
sustains our nation.
Mutilingualism ultimately leads to
State-sponsored Bilingual programs
promotes "Cultural Sovereignty"
which discourages mainstreaming.
The increase minority language
population threatened the power
structure of English in the U.S.
Bilingualism encourages the
development of ethnic conflicts.
Crawford demostrates that Bilingual programs are
not a new concept or a threat to the hegemony of English in the
U.S. Crawford sites an example of how the concept of
bilingualism can be traced back to early 1900's. People of German
origins in Illinois, Missouri, Wisconsin, New York and Pennsylvania
until World War I was their culture eradicated. They were
able to conduct classes in German at school and also some legislative
proposal were unofficially
translated. Not until the start of W.W.I did the U.S. takes
steps to end the catering to those of German descent and even go
so far as to ban the use of German in public, in schools, in
media, and other sources. The intolerance of the use of any
language other than English can be illustrated as follows: One
could be fined $25 for speaking German on the streets of Finlay
The central idea of book in the is the new composition of the
immigrant. The new flux of immigrants are increasingly, according
to the English only movement, non-conformist and also non-assimilatist because
of the bilingualism stressed and provided and supported by their
state dollars. Crawford points out that the treatment of
immigrants often enhances their mainstreaming process or
discourages it. He illustrates this by describing the treatment
of the first wave of Cambodians immigrants in the 60's. He
asserts that when the government allowed for the influx of
Cambodian refugees by providing tax dollars for their
anglicization they quickly assimilated and became apart of the
mainstream. It is true that immigrant are sometimes better off when policy
are created that promote their quick assimilation. In stances where there
are not programs that encourage the learning of English or where the
immigrants are not welcomed forced assimilation can be chaotic. Forced
assimilation can result in increased nationalism and movements for cultural
Another point emphasized in Crawford's book, the idea of an
increasing feeling of being out of place in one's own native land or
country. Crawford asserts that this is
primary building block for English only movement. He provides evidence
to support this point by describing the turmoil that occurs in Dade County
Florida. Crawford explains the situation by devoting an entire
chapter to the subject of Strangers in their own land in his
chapter entitled "Tribal Politics." This chapter focuses on the
development of the Cuban/Hispanic cultural and its prevalence in
Miami. Miami has become a little Havana.
With the advent of the recent arrival of the vast majority of the
cuban refugees Miami has fallen prey to the English Only movement's
worst nightmare. Spanish is spoken in almost all places of
business and one is frowned upon if one can not also speak
The book is basically a reflection of the attitudes and
philosophies of the paranoid English Only movements. The English Only
movement's claim that their main focus is the preservation of their
culture. But could their motives have more depth. It is a normal
reaction to attack when a person feels threatened,
but to eradicated different cultures is not the answer. There is a fine
line between cultural genicode and cutural preservation. It is important
not to eradicated other cultures in order to preserve one. America is a
unique nation in that it is made out of many different cultures and the
emilimination of one to preserve another should not be accepted. We need
to develop o program that does not cater to certain group and that promotes
assimilation and cultural preservation. Biligual programs should stress
the importance of mastering both English and the person's native
language. The policy of total immersion is best when learning a
Crawford states facts of how the movements systematically attack the new
immigrants. Even though the movement are composed of diverse
populations, the bulk of the followers on the contributors are
white, male, conservative, republicans. The movements are
nothing but fronts for the continued racist and prejudice ideas
and attitudes that make this nations tick.