The United States is and has always been an immigrant country. However, it has always demonstrated a marked ambivalence towards newcomers. In some circumstances, they are seen as welcomed contributors to a multifaceted society; in others they are viewed as interlopers usurping depleting resources which should be going to the country's citizens. A major part of this ongoing debate centers on the languages which immigrants bring with them. For some, these new languages add to the country's diversity; for others the new languages are seen as an inherent threat to English and the American way of life.
Languages in America: A Pluralist View is a vigorous response to this perspective by a sociolinguist and professor, Susan J. Dicker. Drawing on knowledge from the fields of linguistics, history and sociology, Dicker presents a cogent argument for language diversity in the United States. She explores the role language plays in personal and public identity. She debunks the mythology of America as a melting pot. She tackles common misconceptions about second-language learning, reveals the nativist roots of the official-English movement, and describes how other countries nurture language pluralism. Finally, Dicker asks her readers to imagine America as an open, pluralistic society in which language diversity plays an important part.
Susan J. Dicker was born in New York City of multilingual immigrant parents and, growing up, regularly heard Italian, Yiddish and Spanish at home. She holds Masters of Arts degrees in Spanish and TESOL and an Ed.D. in Applied Linguistics. She is Associate Professor of English at Hostos Community College, The City University of New York, in the ethnically diverse borough of the Bronx. Her articles on language pluralism appear in The Bilingual Review/La Revista Bilingue, The Educational Forum, The Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, The Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, and Education and Society.
Introduction 1. Language and Identity 2. The Melting-Pot Mythology 3. Common Misconceptions about Language Learning 4. Languages in the Schools 5. The Modem Official-English Movement 6. Challenges to Language Restrictionism 7. Lessons in Multilingualism Beyond the United States 8. The Possibilities of a Pluralistic, Multilingual America Epilogue/References/Index