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Nashville Won’t Make English Official Language

Written By: Youki on January 23, 2009 1 Comment

from today’s New York Times:

Nashville voters on Thursday rejected a proposal to make English the city’s official language and largely to prevent government workers from communicating in other languages.

The proposal was introduced by Eric Crafton, a metropolitan councilman. It was opposed by a broad coalition including the mayor, civil rights groups, business leaders, ministers and the heads of nine institutions of higher education.

“The results of this special election reaffirm Nashville’s identity as a welcoming and friendly city,” Mayor Karl Dean said in a statement.

[read more]


In an earlier post on signs and linguistic landscapes, daveski writes, “one of the clues we have about who we are (as I think they are) when we see ourselves labeled as “violators”, “patrons”, and “citizens” on their surfaces; if they tell us what kind of society we live in, what kind of place we inhabit…and, extending this even further, if they are metaphors for how we find direction in our everyday activities and life…then maybe we ought to pay more attention to how they work.”

How does this extend to nonvisible signs: the rules, policies, and regulations of a group?  Nashville’s mayor said, “The results of this special election reaffirm Nashville’s identity as a welcoming and friendly city” — what about the identities of the people in the city?  Would the passage of English as the official language of the city transform and divide citizens into English speaking citizens and non-English speaking citizens

Is this is yet another form of Foucauldian biopower, a way of managing people as a group?

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One Response to “Nashville Won’t Make English Official Language”

  1. Usree Bhattacharya on: 25 January 2009 at 9:28 pm

    Makes me think of Bourdieu as well, of symbolic capital…thank you for posting this, Youki.

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