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Why it is important to speak English in the U.S.

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Jim Thompson

By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Ismail Mohamed, winner of the Democrat Primary in Ohio’s 3rd State House District and the incumbent, gave his entire victory speech in Somali.  

His opponent was also Somali, and both candidates centered their campaigns around Somali, not U.S. or Ohio issues. The Third District is in Franklin County and includes parts of Columbus. It is the second-largest concentration of Somalis in the U.S., after Minneapolis, which is represented in Congress by Ilhan Omar.

Everywhere one turns these days, one is confronted by a language other than English. This is doing no one a favor, including those who do not speak English as a first language.

One does not have to go far back in history to see the effects of a multi-language country. The Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, a big loser in the First World War, officially recognized 14 languages, including Croatian, Czech, German, Hungarian, Italian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Ruthenian, Serbian, Slovak, Slovene, Ukrainian and Turkish.  

How would you like to be a sergeant in their army, giving deployment instructions to your troops? Just perhaps this was a key to their being on the losing side in the war.

The Biblical accounting of the tower of Babel cites how God used divergency of languages to set the people against each other.

A common language provides a basis for common objectives. We now have people inside our borders who clearly are here to exploit our generosity while ignoring our principles. Not being willing to learn our common language is the first clue when it comes to their motivations.

The charitable thing for us to do is not provide multilingual driver’s test and ballots, but to provide English as a second language classes in abundance.  Many immigrants go down this path, the path of learning English, for they know for them and their children, mainstreaming their communications here is the path to prosperity.  

You can argue over how English became the predominant language in the United States (in the early days, German nearly won out), but it is, and it is the primary way business is conducted here.

Several decades ago, as I have referenced here before, my family and I lived in Finland for a while. This was before the internet and widespread television broadcasting. Finnish is a difficult language only spoken by a tiny portion of the world’s population. Yet, we desperately wanted to learn Finnish for we clearly felt left out of the general flow of life. Fortunately, many spoke English, but it was still a crippling experience.

Grocery shopping for instance, was a challenge when it came to items canned or packaged. We would look at the pictures on the labels and try to guess the contents. There were a few surprises. 

The point is, if you want to live in a country and be involved in it as a contributor to its overall well-being, learning the language is step one.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at

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Matthew (not verified)

23 March 2024

I was at a western National Park today. As I drove the various loops to check out each site at every pull-off, I kind of saw the same people each time. There were 3 Caucasian adults in one particular car. We greeted each other, with "hello" and "good morning" at one of the first stops. As the stops added up, I heard them speak German, I think. (I didn't want to eavesdrop, no matter what language is spoken) My point is that their English was spotless, no matter from where they hail. English just happens to be the currency of the world. I also heard another language today, Navajo. Their English is pretty good too. And I had an early dinner at the Mi Mexico restaurant. I had the Mi Mexico enchiladas. Wunderbar!

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