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Chuck Moss

Chuck Moss

Michigan’s “Official” Language: “Bi-Linguality!”

March 16, 2018

If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look in the dictionary. Just make sure it’s the right one. Recently the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bill 62-46, to make English the State’s official language. This is good, because we already have an official state tree (white pine), official state song (“Michigan, my Michigan”) and official state bird (the mosquito). 

The sponsor, Rep. Tom Barrett, says the bill “acknowledges a fundamental truth” that mostly we speak English, at least where he’s from, which is Potterville, as opposed to Bedford Falls (where we all talk like Jimmy Stewart).

Most of Michigan mostly speaks English too, except for all the names on the map.

Like D’etroit, which was named by the French; Mackinac, which was named by the Chippewa; Clare, which was named by Irishmen; Frankenmuth, named by Germans, and Holland, which was named by a guy named Tulip Hanrahan from New Jersey who sold flowers.

Then there’s Hamtramck, which was not named by Polish people, though you’d think it ought to have been.

The people of Michigan mostly speak mostly English, except where folks who came here from somewhere else mostly speak what they spoke when they got here. I have family members who’ve lived here for decades that still speak A-hy-an, spelled ‘Ohio-an,’ which mostly consists of them pretending they’re not from there.

We speak mostly English, yes, but not completely.

Formally anointing English as our official language is a good idea, with one change: Michigan does not truly speak only one language. We are a diverse state, with a large population of citizens who daily talk in a different tongue. In the interests of diversity and inclusion, we should also officially recognize this! Michigan needs to be formally and officially “Bi-Linguality,” with our other mandated language the obvious one: “Yooperese!”

Dat’s right. “Yooper talk.” Ya forgot everybody north of da Bridge, again, did ya there, eh?  Sure ‘ting.  Spent so much time looking at every group in Detroit wit’ a couple a’restaurants, you didn’t look at at least a t’ird of da goddamm state!  Yah, well, we’re used ta it.  But here’s da t’ing, buddy, ya want t’go two languages, don’t forget da Superior one, eh?  And if you can read dis, t’ank a Yooper.

And how about dem Lions, eh?

See?  Official “Bi-Linguality!” Michigan needs it. House Bill 4083 requires public records to be kept in English. What good does that do? For “public records” you go ask DeeDee Hrlakken, the clerk—like everybody does—‘cuz she remembers everything. She’ll give you the info flawlessly, but in Yooperese. “H’okay dere, sweetie?”

First off, the Yoopers don’t need to be told how to communicate by a buncha damn trolls from Detroit, which is anywhere south of Grayling. “Speak in a different tongue? Nah, we use da same tongue as everybody else, ‘cept we just talk different.”

Second: “The Rest of Us”—the “Trolls”—we need to be able to comprehend what our fellow citizens are saying to us, however uncomplimentary it may be. Also, Yoopers are everywhere, not just in God’s Country, and they’re all secretly laughing their “you-damn-betcha’” butts off at us.

So count me in for Michigan Bi-Lingualism! Make English the Official Language, h’okay, sure, you bet’cha.  Not French.  Yooperese.  Sure t’ing, all the official documents have got to be double, but that’s h’okay. 

Imagine: “The Party of the First Part hereinafter known as the Lessor.”  Or: “Da guy renting da place—Toivo or his cousin.”  Which is more understandable?

And traffic signs: “STOP/HANG ON DERE, BUDDY!”

The Michigan Legislature/”Dose Bums Down Dere Y’Know?” should immediately vote that, along with English, Michigan’s “Official Language” is now and forever “Yooperese.” Pass it as a bill, an amendment, or an Appropriations rider, but don’t waste any time. The embarrassment you save could be your own. Or, “Da next troll comes in here askin’ for ‘pasties’ I’ll send to da strip club down da road!”

Chuck Moss teaches Political Science at Oakland University and serves on the Board of the Regional Transportation Authority. He was elected to represent the 40th District in the Michigan House and was appointed Chairman of the all-important Appropriations Committee, responsible for the entire state budget. Prior to politics, Chuck was political columnist for the DETROIT NEWS, and has hosted talk shows for radio and television.

March 15, 2018 · Filed under Chuck Moss

2 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Steve Purdy // Mar 16, 2018 at 12:59 pm

    So, another attempt to solve a problem that does not exist. Is there a state office that does not keep records in English? Sounds like an anti-diversity statement to me.

  • 2 John Q. Public // Mar 20, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    I have yet to meet a dyed-in-the-wool Yooper who even acknowledges the existence of the Lions other than in weeks when they play da Packers, let alone care how they’re doing.


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