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English as she is legislated

Over at Johnson, the Economist’s language blog, they’re having a little fun with Homer, Illinois, which has tried to make a splash for itself in the news by making English the official language of the town.

I commend the post to your attention, mainly because it reprints the entire text of the resolution, which is predictably hilarious.

Stay for the comments, which include submissions by some Defenders of Our Borders and Way of Life. In fairness, the comments in favor of the ordinance are considerably more literate than the ordinance itself. Not that it takes much to accomplish that feat.



Posted by John McIntyre at 11:13 PM | | Comments (3)


How dare you use American Sign Language in Homer! You learn to speak, and you speak English dagnabbit.

The town in question is not downstate Homer, Illinois, population 1200, but the Chicago suburb of Homer Glen, Illinois, population 24000.

Yowza! Forgetting their usage and looking just at what the heck they are trying to say, they seem to be saying that

1) English is already the official language of their state and the U.S.
2) They are asking for no changes to any law
3) They have not been enforcing the existing law and support the idea of enforcing it now

Did I get that right?

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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