chapter  4
National Language Policy in the United States
Pages 28

Chapter 2 of this volume describes central differences between U.S. and Canadian approaches to cultural and linguistic diversity, arising from important differences in the sociopolitical histories of the two countries. There are, of course, many similarities; both countries, historically, have favored conformity to English, and, especially in the case of Canada, to British sociocultural norms. The francophone community in Quebec was able to withstand absorption into the dominant anglo culture, although the dream expressed by Pierre Elliot Trudeau of individual French/English bilingualism (the personality principle) for all Canadians is dead. In both countries, nondominant or, in the case of Canada, nonofficial (so-called allophone) languages have been in the shadows because English and French have dominated the stage. Although the survival of French in Quebec was greatly enhanced by the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s, the English "fact" in North America continues to favor shift from French to English outside Quebec (see Beaujot, chapter 3; Cartwright, chapter 11; and Veltman, chapter 12, this volume), and from Spanish to English in the United States. In the United States, English achieved its unchallenged status as the national language through custom; from the earliest days of the republic, speaking English was understood to be a sine qua non for membership in the polity known as the United States. This was

so not because repressive laws were passed limiting the public utility of other languages, but due to social pressure to conform (cf. Schmidt, chapter 2, this volume). As Heath and Mandabach (1983) noted: "It has not been the law which has repressed language diversity, but society" (p. 101). In Canada, the fact that 90% of all Canadians live within 200 miles of the United States border has influenced its economic as well as cultural development; American movies, literature, and music-all in English-have permeated Canadian life. Indeed, one of the reasons French nationalism is possible in Quebec is because Canadian nationalism is so loosely defined, if it has been defined at all (McNaught, 1988). For some Canadians, English-speaking Canada has more in common with the United States than with any notion of Canadian nationalism; for others, Canadian nationalism is defined as the right not to be American.