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Archive for January 17th, 2008

No Habla Español

I am about to say something that is not very p.c. : 

When in America, speak the English. 

This is one of those little pet peeves of mine.  I go into Home Depot or Lowes or Walmart or Kohl’s or any other major nationwide retailer, and all the signage in the store is written in English and Spanish.  And I can’t really explain why it goes all through me, but it does.  It’s a visceral reaction. 

I don’t have much problem with America as a melting pot, really I don’t.  It’s our national identity.  I mean, because otherwise how would my Scottish-descended grandmother have ever been exposed to my German-descended grandfather?  And how otherwise would my Scots-German mother have been able to marry a boy from a Welsh Catholic family?  My great-grandmother spoke German almost exclusively, even though she lived the larger balance of her years in America.  Her English, it was broken at best. 

So hey, yeah.  Speak the language of your people.  Cling to your culture.  Have at it.  But in America, to conduct business, you need to speak the language. 

Now, I realize that Hispanics are the largest and fastest-growing ethnic group in America today.  They control more than 8 percent of U.S. spending.  And I don’t blame them for wanting to come here and make a better life for themselves and their families.  Because, you know, so did my kinfolks. 

(And I am not entering a discussion here about immigration. legal or otherwise.  I’m not.  So don’t go there.) 

I also don’t have much problem with the schools teaching our children a second language as a firm part of the curriculum rather than as an elective.  Spawn is learning Spanish right now and has been since Kindergarten (which, what do you know, is a German word).  I hope the kid learns it a lot better than I ever did French.  I think it’s pretty cool to be able to speak more than one language, and it certainly prepares kids today for life in what is becoming a world market. 

But I have a real problem with the capitulation of Big Business and government towards people who speak Spanish.  My personal opinion is, we need to establish a national language, a language that is the “official” language for government and business.  And since I speak English and am Queen here on this blog, I think it should be English. 

Which means:  store signage at big national chain stores in English… governmental forms in English… instruction manuals in English… voice mail prompts in English. 

Now, I’m not by any means a world traveler.  I wish I were, but economics being what they are I don’t see it happening for me.  But I would think that if I were to go somewhere where English is not the primary language and try to live, I’d have to pull my shit together and learn the native tongue.  And knowing that that’s what it would take for me to live successfully in a foreign country, that’s what I’d do.  I certainly wouldn’t expect it to be any different. 

I realize that this stance is not going to endear me to some of you reading this and I guess I’m just going to have to be okay with that. 

— Mox

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