Wars on Language and the Language of Wars
The following paragraphs open a recent post on Dennis Baron’s site The Web of Language:
“2014 marks the centennial of World War I, time to take a closer look at one of its offshoots, America’s little-known War on Language.
“In April, 1917, the United States declared war on Germany. In addition to sending troops to fight in Europe, Americans waged war on the language of the enemy at home. German was the second most commonly-spoken language in America, and banning it seemed the way to stop German spies cold. Plus, immigrants had always been encouraged to switch from their mother tongue to English to signal their assimilation and their acceptance of American values. Now speaking English became a badge of patriotism as well, a way to prove that you were not a spy.
“The war on language was fought on two fronts, one legal, the other, in the schools. Its…
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