Friday, May 19, 2006

'National' or 'common'? Senate ponders what to call English

Here's this stupid issue again. English is the language of America, because that's historically what most of our population has spoken. If an immigrant comes here from anywhere, he will have a greater chance of success and prosperity if he learns English. But some statute that grants English some sort of official status is stupid.

What are the things which bind Americans together? I would say in general that it's a sense that at a basic level we share the same values. (How we interpret and implement those values is another whole discussion). There is an American culture, but that culture is made up of many other cultures as well. Trying to enforce, however passively, some sort of American assimilation just makes us all smaller. Acceptance of diversity makes us stronger.

I've heard people bitch about stores where the employees only spoke Spanish, or places where signs are printed in two languages. Big fucking deal. Being American doesn't grant you the right to feel comfortable everywhere you go. If there's not a language barrier, there could be something else. And all that doesn't even address the underlying racism in the proposal. I'm sure there are people who think English should be the national language for some sort of cultural reason, but I suspect that many supporters of this kind of thing just want to make sure that if the brown-skinned people have to come here, they damn well better learn to be just like us.

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10 comments:

Storm said...

No we want English as the official language because it should be.

We are not racist. In fact such a statement indicates the ignorance of the speaker. People that speak Spanish are Black, White, and Brown depending are their country of origin.

English is one of the unifying elements of our country. Yes it is harsh that we require people learn a common language for public speaking so we can all speak with eachother.

Consider the current situation, A Spanish speaker gets license because the test is in Spanish but when they have an accident they can not explain what happened to any one.

In America it was accepted for decades that you could speak Klingon in your own home and make signs in any language for your store but in public discussions especially government you speak English.

As for values, bull, you and I can not even agree on what the Bill of Rights means. Do we translate the Constitution into Spanish and have it next to the original?

Storm said...

Bush should strike down Clinton's executive order in connection with the mandate to provide a translator

John Howard said...

Giving English any sort of official status will not change a single thing. No more people are going to speak English because of this nonsense. There are already much bigger incentives for people who come here to learn English, and if those won't motivate them, this won't either.

So, it's just pandering to the rednecks who can't stand it when they have to hear someone speak Spanish at Wal-Mart. And it's the worst type of pandering, because not only does it not do a single practical thing, but it reinforces that the xenophobic racist view of people who are different is the correct one.

If you go into a store where people only speak Spanish and it bothers you, take your business elsewhere. If you see a sign with two languages on it, read the one you understand and IGNORE the other one. Or alternatively, you could pick up a few words of a foreign language, it's not going to kill you. Having phrases like piso mijado, no fumar, and de los puertas in my head has never done me any good, but it certainly hasn't hurt me any either.

The only semi-legitimate reason to make English our national language (whatever the fuck that means, anyway) is that just about everyone here speaks it. And since that is the case, it means it's not fucking necessary.

I know people are having a hard time these days finding accepted outlets for their bigotry, thanks to the evil liberal media and homosexual aganda. But instead of trying to be more subtle in their intolerance, they could just grow up and ditch it altogether.

John Howard said...

We are not racist. In fact such a statement indicates the ignorance of the speaker. People that speak Spanish are Black, White, and Brown depending are their country of origin.

Yeah, but most of the ones people complain about are the non-white ones, strangely enough.

English is one of the unifying elements of our country. Yes it is harsh that we require people learn a common language for public speaking so we can all speak with eachother.

Some vague designation of English as an official language does not in any way accomplish this.

Consider the current situation, A Spanish speaker gets license because the test is in Spanish but when they have an accident they can not explain what happened to any one.

Which would change to a Spanish speaker gets license based on learning enough English to pass the test, then has an accident and still can't explain what happened. What's the benefit?

In America it was accepted for decades that you could speak Klingon in your own home and make signs in any language for your store but in public discussions especially government you speak English.

Yes, we do speak English in public discussions, except in all the cases where people publically speak in some other language. In the government, as you say, we already speak English, so what's the problem? In any other cases, if people are speaking a different language, it's probaly because their audience understands it. Again, what's the problem?

As for values, bull, you and I can not even agree on what the Bill of Rights means. Do we translate the Constitution into Spanish and have it next to the original?

I think the Constititution is filled with some pretty good ideas, that should be shared with as many people as possible, even if they don't happen to speak English. I'm sure there are Spanish translations of it available already. Again, what's the problem?

Bush should strike down Clinton's executive order in connection with the mandate to provide a translator

Yeah, because that will make people stop speaking other languages. Praticality be damned!

Toast said...

we want English as the official language because it should be

Este es la lógica circular.

puzzled said...

A Canadian has to smile at all this stuff. We had the same crap vis-a vis French some years ago. There was even a group dedicated to saving English from extinction. We all get along much better now.

Michelline said...

Saying English should be our "official" language is just another way of expressing Nationalism. And Nationalism (as opposed to Patriotism) is a BAD BAD thing. Nationalism says everyone is either for us(meaning just like us) or they're against us (meaning they don't look like us, act like us, or talk like us). And this is just the type of attitude which endears Americans to other nations all over the world. I'm tired of hearing non-Americans talk about how racist, stupid, insular - take your insult of choice - we Americans are. Aren't you? And if so, why do we continue to give them reasons to talk like that about us? Stuff like requiring English just perpetuates the stereo-type.

Robert Bayn said...

I have no problem with English being the offical language, because it already is. I was kinda surprised it was not already, making it the offical language however is just symbloic, it harms no one either way, does it do any good, not really, is it pointless? probably, but isn't everything the government does lately, pointless anyways? And i agree with storm it is not racist, if we banned people from speaking spanish, than it would be, but that's not what is being done.

John Howard said...

But the reasons most of the people pushing this want it are based on bigotry, racism and xenophobia. Also, I don't think that doing pointless things is ok just because the government does a lot of other pointless things.

Also, I'm not sure that is doesn't harm anyone, since it embraces the idea that people who speak English are superior to those who don't. There's no reason for us to have an official language, so don't do it.

Storm said...

When we discuss making the language official we are only talking about government communications not private businesses. You and I already agree any private business can hang signs in any language they want provided 1st amendment compliate.

As for the driver's license point, I disagree if one has mastered enough English Language skills to read and write to pass the test including the driving test which would require one to speak to the examiner in English then one should have sufficient command of the language for most situations. It is an assumption and undoutedly some will still find the situation challenging but most.

As for reasons to learn English, I do not think you live in an area heavily populated by Spanish. I routinely meet people that have been hear for 5,6,7 or more years and they have almost no English skills.

Making English the official government language is mostly symbolic agreed but it was also remove all the nonsense that has sprung up requiring Americans to learn the languages of other countries to accomodate those who have emigrated from elsewhere and at taxpayer expense. Practicality whatever for over 200 years it was a practical system to require people to learn English in governmental situations. BUt if I must compromise then I'll offer this--all Federal and State communications will be in English but any City Municipality such as Jacksonville that wishes to offer say Spanish speaking officers at public expense should be approved by referudum and must have a sunset provision of no more than 10 years. Practicallity satisfied (period emphasized).