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BOOKS AND THE CULTURE CALIFORNIA MAY BE ihe first state with an official language, but as Texans we can take some small pride in having been almost 60 years ahead of them on the consciousness-lowering end of the language question. It was our own Governor Miriam “Ma” Ferguson who in 1928 took on the secular humanists trying to force Latin on the best and brightest in our public schools. The Bible was written in English, Governor Ferguson observed. “And if English was good enough for Jesus Christ,” she thundered, “it’s good enough for the school children of the State of Texas.” She won her election, and I for one will argue that those lines weren’t contrived in the office of some slick media consultant; stuff like that comes straight from the heart. Not only did we prove ourselves avant garde electoral feminists by reelecting a woman governor in 1928, we reelected a woman who refused to skirt the real issues and stood like a beacon pointing the way on the always-important language question. Even today, the white-hot anti-Hispanic rhetoric of a full-blown Kent Hance campaign would make Hayakawa’s U.S. Englishers look like language wimps. We’ve nothing to hang our heads about. Ma Ferguson’s quote just might be the only bit of sociolinguistic minutia not included in Kenji Hakuta’s Mirror of Language. For some 241 pages, Hakuta, an associate professor of psychology at Yale, casts a cold and scholarly eye on bilingualism in America. Drawing on his own experience, and the work of more than 250 cited authors, Hakuta dissects nearly every issue raised in public and academic debate on bilingualism in this country. It’s the sort of dispassionate work that is long overdue; the passage of the oxymoronic California English referendum and Secretary of Education William Bennett’s assault on bilingual education make it even more .timely. Passage by passage, page by page, Louis Dubose, a freelance writer, also teaches English-as-a-second-language in Austin. Hakuta considers divergent theories until one appears at least slightly more plausible than another. All the while, something in the reader almost aches for resolution and an end to what often seems excessive academic equivocation. So when the author delivers the goods, in two resounding final chapters, the reader sits convinced; and the writer stands somewhere between triumph and exoneration. MIRROR OF LANGUAGE By Kenji Hakuta New York, Basic Books, 1986 268 pages, $18.95 Perhaps it is the quick resolution of one of the early questions, the effect of bilingualism on intelligence, that raises expectations that here is an author who is out to slay some dragons, which Hakuta eventually does by whittling them to death. There is no equivocation. Hakuta documents the shameful and specious correlation of bilingualism \(and intelligence. In a sense, the deck was officially stacked in this country by the Dillinghan Commission, established by Congress in 1907 to investigate changing patterns of immigration. Among the commission’s conclusions was a preoccupation with the quality of new immigrants from southern and eastern Europe. The results of crude psychometric examinations to which arriving immigrants were subjected played at least a small part in the shaping of earlier immigration policy. But a lasting effect was the characterization of new immigrants as huddled masses of inferior intelligence. The author presents compelling arguments that recent research continues to cast non-English monolinguals and bilinguals in an unfavorable light. Often the fault lies with methodology and not the subjects; test results of economically disadvantaged ethnic minorities are frequently compared with results of middle-class subjects. When only middle-class subjects are compared, true bilinguals do very favorably, often enjoying an advantage over their monolingual peers. Why not, then, considering the advantages of bilingualism, design programs and curricula to encourage the real thing? Hakuta questions our “paradoxical attitude of admiration and pride for school-attained bilingualism on one hand, and scorn and shame for home-brewed immigrant bilingualism on the other.” Federally funded bilingual education is by law transitional in nature; the native tongue is considered a deficit to be removed. This is unlikely to change, the author says, speculating that the “strong identification of `bilingual’ with ‘Hispanic,’ and the consequent association of bilingual education with the political mobilization of Hispanics” galvanizes certain sectors of opposition. And, he argues, it is unlikely that any other program realizes such large returns in uninformed criticism for such little investment. At $139.4 million per year \(a considerable decrease from the $191.5 million peak during the last year gual budget represents less than one percent of the federal commitment to education. High marks for bilingual education notwithstanding, this is only one topic in a work that is remarkably broad in scope. Hakuta is most interesting when he assays the complexities of the bilingual mind. In one chapter Benjamin determinist and full-time insuranceman who argued that “language is the great symbolism from which other symbolisms take their cues” and that language absolutely determines the shape of our thought, squares off with contemporaries Jean Piaget and Noam Chomsky, who hold that language is but one of many faculties of the mind. \(Chomsky claims that language is an organ of the mind as the stomach is an followed by neurological, psychological, and information-processing models of the bilingual mind. For the reader who doesn’t object to struggling with some technical and occasionally pedantic passages, here are 33 exhilarating pages. As this is an expensive book that is not readily available and will probably never appear in paperback, there is considerable temptation for the reviewer to quickly enumerate some of the more interesting observations: Bilingualism in los Estados Unidos By Louis Dubose THE TEXAS OBSERVER 17