CRAIG ROMNEY, the youngest son of the Republican nominee for president, Mitt Romney, just spoke to the Republican national convention in Florida. His first words were roughly a paragraph's worth of boilerplate support for his father. It wouldn't have been noticed at all, except that it was delivered in the fluent Spanish he learned in Chile.
With this, a Spanish-language address to what is easily America's more immigration-phobic party, it seems a certain threshold has clearly been crossed. Spanish is a language of the United States, though it is obviously not the language of the country. The young Mr Romney's speech followed a gauzy montage of Latino Republicans appealing for Latino support of their party. Though primarily in English, it finished with the word juntos, "together", out of the mouth of almost all of the politicians featured.
This isn't entirely new. Newt Gingrich, another would-be Republican nominee, once cut an ad in Spanish. George W Bush spoke it haltingly. To have it spoken (to cheers) on the floor of the Republican convention confirms that the language has arrived to a unique position in America. It is not the country's second language in any official sense—and many Americans (of both parties) would vehemently resist its becoming so. But it is, of America's many non-English languages, much more than first among equals. It is in a class of its own, the historic language of America's biggest minority. It will be interesting to see the interplay of Spanish's progress and the heated resistance against it in the coming years.
Source: The Economist