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This term paper discusses Language Imperialism and the Case of Spanish and the African American Vernacular in the United States.

Toward the end of the colonial era, the idea that one nation has the right to conquer and occupy the land of another nation or impose its will on them began to become unpopular. One of the facets of colonialism was the imposition of the language of the conquering country upon the natives of the conquered lands with the recognition of imperialism as a malign development in the history of the world; the forced imposition of a language upon a people came to be recognized as a wrong as well. However language imperialism is far more insidious than other forms of imperialism. People who would never discriminate against someone on the basis of their ethnicity or skin color often see nothing wrong with discriminating against them on the basis of their language. It is no longer acceptable for people to openly espouse their view that one ethnicity or race is good and the other is bad, however it is still acceptable to regard the language, the accent or the dialect of another person as a ‘bad’.

Many states have adopted policies of language imperialism with regards to their minority communities. In this article we shall examine how the language policies of the US government with regards to the two of the major minority communities, namely the Hispanic and the African American community amount to language imperialism.

The Spanish were the first European country to colonize the Americas. In the region constituting the present day United States of America, the first European colony was that of St. Augustine in present day state of Florida formed in 1565. In contrast, the first colony established by English speaking Europeans was the short lived Roanoke Colony, formed in 1585 in the present day state of North Carolina. Thus Spanish language has a long history in the United States, one that is even longer than that of the English language (Murrin 2007).

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