Language: “Armory of the Human Mind”
This brief report on the new Spanish-language version of the state attorney general’s website mentions the English-language amendment. Although, as the article correctly points out, the amendment deals with official debates and meetings, and doesn’t affect websites, I’m sure some people will oppose the Spanish website for the same reasons they supported the amendment.
One possible objection to translating state websites is that it compels taxpayers to pay for an unnecessary translation that most of them will never use. This argument has some merit, especially if the translation is repeated in multiple languages that few people speak. However, a translation into one or two major languages may be worth the cost. The up-front expense of translation could prevent costs that would be incurred later because of misunderstandings or ignorance. Some will say, “People should just have to learn English,” but they should consider that learning a language takes time. Do we want foreign-language speakers to remain ignorant of state laws and government for the months or years it takes them to learn English? Furthermore, government publications often contain jargon that would be confusing for non-native speakers, even if they have learned English well enough to get along in daily life.
Translating a website doesn’t get the government involved in new spheres of activity. It doesn’t impose new restrictions on the market. It just makes the English website understandable to more people.