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One Common Language

Should English be the official language of the United States?

A booklet came recently entitled Comcast XFinity Customer Privacy Notice. It is forty-eight pages. That’s a lot of overkill about privacy, I thought. So I opened it. Twenty-two pages about privacy in English. Then twenty-six more pages of the same message in Spanish.

Increasingly, whatever I buy includes English and Spanish labels, instructions, warranties. I wrote a column in The Commercial Appeal twenty years ago warning this would happen if Congress didn’t make English the official language of the United States. I didn’t think it would come to pass in my lifetime. I had spent years creating advertising and sales literature for clients in Canada. All had to be in English and in French. What a waste.

Now in the U.S., what a waste the Comcast booklet is. Instead of one writer and twenty-two pages. One writer, one translator and forty-eight pages.

One bill or another to make English our official language has languished in Congress for decades. They fail to pass simply for political reasons. Politicians don’t want to risk losing even one Hispanic vote. It’s inefficient. A horrible waste of resources strictly for political purposes.

It’s only a matter of time now before everything your business does will have to be done twice. Done in two languages. Your advertising. Your packaging. Your sales literature. Contracts. Warranties. Instructions. More cost. All due to politics.


John Malmo is a marketing consultant who concentrates on helping business owners grow their businesses with effective marketing. To reach Mr. Malmo, hear and read more of his commentaries, or to ask him your own marketing question, go to http://askmalmo.com.