On America, an Official Language

“Monday Musings” for Monday November 21, 2016
Volume VI. No. 47/307

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Why English Should Be the Official Language

By Assad Meymandi, MD, PhD, ScD (Hon), DLFAPA*

 

I was not born an American. I chose to be an American. I entered the US in 1955 knowing ten English words. In order to go to college and prepare for a medical education, I knew that I had to learn English rather quickly. In three months, I memorized the 285,000 words of the 1955 edition of the Oxford Dictionary. Later, I expanded this knowledge and learned the etymology of practically every one of those words. Three years were spent in college pre-medical education with majors in English and Chemistry. I entered medical school in 1968. My intense experience with the English language brought me close to much older and wiser linguists and University professors. Among them was the late Samuel Hayakawa, the then Chancellor of San Francisco State University, who in 1977 became a US Senator from California.

I wrote a letter to Hayakawa and to our own Senator Jesse Helms, who also knew something about my love of the English language, suggesting that they sponsor a bill to make English the official language of America. I even sent some money to facilitate expenses associated with the authorship of the bill, etc…I believe it was 1979 in a gathering of the solons at the invitation of the late Sen. Helms that I hammered away at the subject. A bill to make the English language the official language of America was never written and never passed.

In these gatherings, instead of concentrating on the importance of the subject matter, the solons enjoyed my ability to close my eyes and recite page after page of the Oxford Dictionary, “octave, octennial, octet, octillion, octillionth, October, octodecimo, octogenarian, octomerous, octoary, octoploid, octopod, octopus, octoroon, etc…” With all my emotional and intellectual resources, I believe making English the official language of America is the most important issue in today’s political discourse.

People who come to America, live here for 30 years and know not who Abraham Lincoln was, or the first thing about our flag, or the Founding Fathers and the US Constitution are not doing themselves a favor. I believe that to be an American, one must know the English language, know the bare essentials of our Constitution, our Republic, our Bill of Rights and the story of the birth of this nation and our Founding Fathers.

Please feel free to call on me and use me as a reference to further this, what I consider to be a Holy cause.

God Bless America!

Editor’s Note: Members of the North Carolina Medical Society are often called upon to serve as “Doctor of the Day” at the NC General Assembly. At the beginning of one such day’s session, Dr. Meymandi was invited to make remarks, which follow.

The Gift Of America

Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for this high honor. In the few minutes allotted to me, I wish to submit that America is the best thing that ever happened in this world and to this world. While I do not have Lincoln’s eloquence at Gettysburg, I do take inspiration from his every word. Not four scores and seven years ago, but about ten thousand years ago, the age of Neolithic man, God set out to send man on the road to perfection.

He sent the ancient Persian prophet, Zarathustra (Zoroaster), as early as 500 BC, to bring us the concept of good and evil which in modern day philosophy is known as epistemological dualism. The Sumerians brought us literacy and language. The Egyptians taught us social order and government; the Persians, participatory democracy; the Greeks city-state and citizen representation; the Babylonians gave us devotion and discipline; and Jesus came bringing us civility, hope and love. 1215 years later, the Anglo Saxons brought us the Magna Carta. And in 1756 we were given Mozart, through whom music flowed like water running through the fountains of Tivoli.

But it was not until 1776 that God commissioned, in a divine and mysterious manner, a group of faithful thinkers to lay the cornerstone of a new experiment that in a short span of time has become the envy of the world. The experiment is the Republic they created. It is our United States of America. I am convinced that God had a definite hand guiding the framers of our Constitution in creating this profoundly decent and just document. The American Constitution, as a literary piece, combines Augustinian grace, Franciscan tenacity, Christian hope and possibility, Talmudic order and Zoroastrian aspiration for good deed and perfection. It is a talismanic masterpiece with magical powers. We have seen Sultans, kings, Shahs and potentates come and go. But governing by the rule of law, the unique legacy of the American Constitution and the nobility of Bill of Rights are here to stay.

We should all be proud to be Americans. As legislators, you, ladies and gentlemen, occupy the lofty position as guarantors of this sacred legacy, the legacy that in America, laws, and not men, rule. You are the lawmakers, and you are the ultimate governors of our people. As one American who enjoys the inalienable freedom and liberties bestowed upon me, I thank you for your leadership, sacrifice and guardianship of our sacred American Constitution.

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*The writer is Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry, University of North Carolina School of Medicine at Chapel Hill, Distinguished Life fellow American Psychiatric Association; Life Member, American Medical Association; Life Member, Southern Medical Association; and Founding Editor and Editor-in-Chief, Wake County Physician Magazine (1995-2012). He is a Raleigh, North Carolina writer and dramaturge and the 2016 winner of the NC Award in Fine Arts.
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