© David Chartrand

My fellow Kansans are fed up with all the non-English speaking immigrants who have settled in our state.  So English is now our official language.

I will pause here to point that Kansas takes its name from the dialect of the Sioux and Osage Indians, which now strikes me as too funny for words.

Here’s the funniest part: The new language law doesn’t apply to Indians or Hispanics or any other racial or ethnic group. It applies only to our state and local governments.

All Kansas public agencies — their documents, meetings, and bathroom graffiti — must now use language the rest of us understand. Future state historians may one day rank this as more significant than the discovery by Kansas State University dormitory residents that a cockroach can live for weeks without its head.

With English as our official language, real estate closings will take five minutes. No more mortgage “disclosure” documents disclosing a house payment as “ … the payment of all other sums in accordance herewith to protect the performance of covenants and agreements of Borrower herein contained.” Instead, the seller will sign a single statement, “It’s my house. I’m selling it you. Pay me $215,000.” Now that’s what I call plain language.

Kansas now joins a list of 28 states that have declared English their official language. I should point out that we’re also on the list of states that consider it the job of government to decide how the universe was created, but that would sound boastful. We may be on some other lists for all I know, and I’d rather not know.

Plain English is a time-honored Midwestern tradition that never caught on with our elected officials. However, a more popular tradition holds that those those who create laws must abide by them.

The new law will improve our understanding of the civil justice system.  No more “voir dire" this and “habeas corpus" that. Gone are the days when lawsuits rise and fall on theories like “parentis in locus pocus.” Lawyers who use profanity in the courtroom must use cuss words that offend everyone.

All public employees, from the governor to city clerks, had better watch their mouths. Once English is enforced there will be hell to pay for government receptionists who say, “Mayor Strunk is out right now. He has went to a meeting. But I can have him to call you back.”

The same goes for public officials who say “supposably” and “EK-cetera,” or pronounce “athlete” as “ath-a-lete.” The next time we hear a legislator say Reel-uh-tor instead of Realtor, or refer to our roads as “core infrastructure,” we plan to notify the police.

With statutes written in English, all families can take part in the endless debate over school funding, assuming anyone would want to. No longer will the quality of our public schools be determined by law that allocates education dollars  -- and I quote

“… by deriving an amount for each such district from a linear transition between the average amount per pupil computed under Article 2 and the average amount per pupil computed under Article 3.”

It’s a miracle our Hispanic residents can speak English at all. They rarely see it in writing or hear it spoken.


Unfortunately, the new language rules do not apply to corporations. This should be corrected immediately. Where do you think public officials learn drivel like “policy granularity” and “transparent accountability”? They learn it from business executives who spend half their time schmoozing for government handouts. Trust me, only a Harvard MBA could have invented the term “Tax Increment Financing” to explain a taxpayer-subsidized shopping mall.

According to its sponsors, the new law will have minimal fiscal impact. I believe they meant to say, “It won’t cost much.” The major expense will involve replacement of thousands of state flags and emblems. The official Kansas motto —   “Ad astra per aspera” — must be converted to English,  as soon as someone figures out what it means.

Indeed, the benefits of mandatory English far outweigh the costs. I wouldn’t be surprised if all Kansans notice an immediate reduction in local property taxes.

When my next property tax bill arrives the first thing I will do is lay it on a flat surface. I shall use a yellow marker to highlight the part where the state uses a “mill levy” to compute my “ad valorem tax.”

I will neatly fold the tax statement and place it in an envelope marked, “Ad Refusus Per Postalmus” (loosely, “Return to Sender”).

I’ll do it proudly, for I live in Kansas, where there is no taxation without translation.

© David Chartrand, 2015

Governments should practice

what they preach: Plain English