Learn Spanish, Live Longer
The latest is Nashville's resolution--recently vetoed by their mayor who called it mean-spirited--that all government communication be in English. Interestingly though, the presumably mono-lingual Metro Council members didn't have the courage of their narrow-minded convictions. Instead of staking out a clear position, they included a huge loophole that would accommodate federal multilingual requirements. So much for symbolism, huh?
But let's not cast aspersions. Let's look at the English-only argument. Supporters will tell you that English is so popular that it's OK for us to flaunt our position as the world's most shocking linguists. After all, English is 'the language of business', right? Well, English certainly is in the top 4, but Mandarin is spoken by double the number people who speak English, and the numbers for Hindi and Spanish are so close that the difference isn't worth mentioning. English will drop from numero dos to numero tres before the end of the next decade.
Supporters will tell you that we sabotage 'America as a melting pot' when we coddle people with their native tongues. They reminisce about a time when everyone learned English as soon as the reached our shores--which is, of course, a load of tripe! As a genealogist, I'm here to tell you that in every immigrant enclave I've studied, from inner city ghetto's to rural villages, immigrants continued to speak their native tongues sometime into the 2nd and 3rd generations.
And in the end, doesn't it just suck to be mono-lingual? It's embarrassing. It limits one's opportunities as world citizen. It just plain pisses people off--I mean...look at the French! And now it turns out that if you're bi-lingual you'll stave off the ravages of dementia. How do ya like them apples?
Julien...and I'm not counting Java, C, C++, Pascal, FORTRAN, Lisp, Prolog, ALGOL, COBOL, SNOBOL, PL1, Ada, blah, blah-blah, blah... ;-)
We are one of the few countries in the world which don't REQUIRE the students to learn a 2nd language. Appalling, really.
I haven't gotten the hyperlink thing down yet but here is the URL to a post I did about a proposed new ordinance in one of Atlanta's suburban counties. Nashville has nuthin on us.
Sumo...but your's is the "good kind" of dementia!
Dave...clicked through. Thanks for the link. I commented over on your blog.
Like burning tax dollars with the leaves...
The reason New York City had Italian, Irish, Chinese, etc etc enclaves at the turn of the last century was to make it easier for new emigrants to get along in the new world by living amongst other who spoke the same language. It's why here in Minneapolis, the American Swedish Institute published a Swedish language newspaper into the early part of the 20th century. There were also two Swedish newspapers in Chicago.
Peacechick...makes me regret not learning more Spanish.
I have always wanted to go to Croatia, and knowing that I may be able to stave off senility by learning such a difficult language gives me all the reason I need to learn it.
I think the English-Only crowd is probably largely composed of people who would also expect people in OTHER countries to know English too, and for those people to use only English with them once it was known the monoliugual tourons were Americans.
(Touron = Tourist + Moron. When I worked summers at Crater Lake National Park I noticed lots of tourons there, but all those from foreign countries, without exception, spoke passable English. Some of the American tourons didn't speak so well... let's see, Lew, I think they were from Tennessee! hehehehe)
I agree that's it's embarrasing to be monolingual though. Europeans speak several languages, as do many Canadians. It just makes sense to accomodate ourselves to a changing world that seems increasingly smaller.
That is quintessential America, and the part of America that the English-Only crowd hate most.
And just to be a trouble maker, I'm in favor of a second language being required in our schools. Question: which one?
My response to "English Only" chest-thumpers has always been, "Learn how to speak Cherokee, then get back to me, yonegv."
I'm in favor of a second language being required in our schools. Question: which one?
TFWY... I think it has to be a romance language or Manderin. Both for the sheer numbers. Learn Spanish, and you've got a leg up on Italian and Portugeuse--together covering about 700M people. Manderin, obviously because it's spoken by a billion people.
LC...agreed...at total waste of time.
That pretty much sums up how I feel on this issue.