Making English the nation’s lingua franca

As I’m sure everyone knows, last week the US Senate voted to make English our “national” language. All through this debate I keep thinking back to when my dad was a professor at Georgia Tech Lorraine, Georgia Tech’s campus in Metz, France.

Back in 1997 Georgia Tech Lorraine was sued for violating a French law forbidding the sale of “goods and services” in France in any single language other than French. The lawsuit was brought by two French organizations, the Défense de la Langue Française and Avenir de la Langue Française Defense de la Langue, because the campus (which taught classes only in English) did not have a French version of their website. I remember smugly thinking how idiotic it was that the French had organizations dedicated to the “defense” of the French language, and how much more sensible we Americans were. Of course, I should have realized my smugness would be short-lived: the French may be known for their jingoism and petulant national pride, but the US has always envied that title.

So now I have to wonder — how would the Senators that voted for “defending our English language” react to the accusation that they’re acting, well, French?