The United States has been an English speaking nation every since the first independent flag was raised. Through many rifts of time and historical transformations, this one feature has thus far been preserved. However, this does make this prominent feature immutable. Action must be taken to defend it, if it so desired to remain a descriptor of the nation. Likewise, action must be taken against it, if it is a national characteristic that is deemed necessary to be overthrown. Judging by the state of things, it is the latter that is currently taking place.
Whether it is intentional or negligent does not deter an objective analysis of what is currently happening to the national feature of a common tongue. The English language is under stress, and it is seen most prominently in America’s largest cities. The Center for Immigration Studies found, “In America’s five largest cities, 48 percent of residents now speak a language other than English at home. In New York City and Houston it is 49 percent; in Los Angeles it is 59 percent; in Chicago it is 36 percent; and in Phoenix it is 38 percent.”
This transformation has happened rapidly, and is punctuated by substantial growth every decade. CIS documents that, “In 2017, a record 66.6 million U.S. residents ages five and older spoke a language other than English at home. The number has more than doubled since 1990, and almost tripled since 1980.”
While the shift in America’s largest cities are understandably prioritized in the study and any forthcoming discussion, the stress on the English language is not contained to these cities alone. In many cases, cities have experienced almost a complete transition away from the nation’s native language. “In 2017, there were 85 cities and Census Designated Places (CDP) in which a majority of residents spoke a foreign language at home. These include Hialeah Fla. (95 percent); Laredo, Texas (92 percent); and East Los Angeles, Calif. (90 percent),” along with several others, CIS reports.
It is a compelling note on the phenomenon that this national trend is highly focused in metropolitan areas. “In rural areas outside of metropolitan areas just 8 percent speak a language other than English at home,” concludes CIS. If any further scientific inquiry is to probe as to how the evolution of spoken language is impacting the nation, the natural delineation between rural and urban areas is available.
Language is one of the most important, if not the most important, building blocks for social interaction and cultural development. Whenever it is observed that this building block is expressed in radically different ways in the rural and urban scene, the ability for these two different lifestyles to relate to one another becomes suspect. The ruralite and the urbanite are living two different realities, and thus arriving at worldviews that are inevitably differing in conclusions.
The more these two lifestyles differ, the less likely it is to be expected that they relate with the other. Understanding this natural ideological separation, it comes as little surprise that what matters to these two groups is distinct. The political map is quite heavily divided along these lines, which is one of the best references to gauge the differences that persist within these two living conditions. However, political allegiances are but one measuring tool to calculate how these two groups differ.
A constant encounter with the English language, or even simply a common tongue, is surely not the only thing to consider when analyzing the different intellectual makeup of the ruralite and the urbanite. However, it certainly is not something to be brushed aside as benign. Metropolitan areas already differ from the countryside in numerous ways. Subtracting the English language from one of the key ways in which urbanites and ruralites relate is likely only acting to further splinter these majors factions of the nation.