“English Only” or “English First”

The backers of the proposed amendments use the term “English First” – but the accepted term is “English Only” – for example, it is the preferred term used by Wikipedia.

Which term is right?  “Only” or “First”?

One objective measure is whether the word “only” or the word “first” appears in the proposed amendment in Nashville:

English is the official language of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Tennessee. Official actions which bind or commit the government shall be taken only in the English language, and all official government communications and publications shall be in English. No person shall have a right to government services in any other language. All meetings of the Metro Council, Boards, and Commissions of the Metropolitan Government shall be conducted in English. The Metro Council may make specific exceptions to protect public health and safety. Nothing in this measure shall be interpreted to conflict with federal or state law.

Another measure is whether the word “only” or the word “first” appears on the web site of Nashville English First:

It is important to clarify that although there are many languages spoken in Nashville, only one – English – is authorized for official government actions and communications.  Having one language as the official language avoids arguments and potential lawsuits over the meaning of translations, costs less than using multiple languages, and treats all other languages the same instead of favoring one immigrant group over another.

“Only” is an objective, descriptive adjective used by the very proponents of the measure.

See also this page from FaithLeadersforAllofUs.com


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Filed under Terminology, Who brought this to Nashville?

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