Monday, December 26, 2005

Two endings

Tonight is the last Monday Night Football on ABC. I wonder if it is really going to be the last, or if ESPN will end up switching it back to its non-cable network. Meh, who knows.

And the other ending? When did everybody stop speaking English? I was at Filene's downtown today, and heard Spanish spoken by about 70% of the people there. This is my only true right-wing view: I think that if people are going to live in a country and reap its benefits, they should respect the country's traditions, including its language. When I was backpacking through Europe, I learned at least rudimentary phrases in each language to enable communication with those around me. Yes, speak your language in the home so that your children learn it, but do not expect clerks in a store in this country to speak the language you learned in your home country.

15 comments:

Dan Pep said...

I wonder if Al Michaels is moving to ESPN for MNF next year. My favorite announcers of all time are probably Dick "Oh My!" Enberg, Vin "The impossible has happened" Scully, and Johnny "Underneath to D.J. who lays it up and in" Most.

Interesting point about language. When I trekked through Europe after college and was in Paris, I could at least say, "Ou est le 3 Ducks Hostel?"

Mane the Mean said...

The portion of Spanish-speakers is growing fast in USA. It is just basic market economy to serve this portion of customers in their own language.

It is a pity (?) that the Latinos and Blacks are going to become (together) majority in USA very soon.

So, I think that Spanish is going to become another official language very soon in USA. And that is just fine and good.

Edward Prisby said...

Yeah, I got really pissed the other day when the 70 year-old clerk at Dunkin Donuts didn't speak to me in English. Not that I would have had a conversation with her anyway. But I'm pretty sure the $6.15 an hour she earns to pay for food and rent in the Boston area should go to English classes. And 70 isn't too young to learn a new language.

Yeah, for some reason, people speaking languages other than english seems to get a particular group of people really upset. How will they feel when Spanish-speakers inevitably outnumber english-speakers? Will they start speaking Spanish? Will people get upset at THEM when they refuse?

Let it slide. Minor inconveniences like this are the small, small price we pay for living in the greatest country in the world.

Keith said...

mane: Technically, English isn't even the official language of the U.S. We don't have one. (And there was even a proposal once to make Hebrew the official language of the U.S.) So if Spanish were to become an official language of the country, it would be the only one.

Ilana said...

Yes, but how do you think our country became the best in the world? Did it just happen overnight? No. It took time and extensive communication. This cannot happen if people do not accept the established common communication technique.

I know that it says nowhere that English is the "official" language of this country. In a perfect world, it would be a native American tongue. However, the British dominated and brought English with them. Since then, people coming to this country have learned English to communicate with those around them. My dad learned it; his parents learned it; my uncle learned it; my great aunt and uncle did; my mother's parents did. Why should this particular influx be any different?

Ilana said...

Also, one does not need to pay for lessons to learn a language. One simply needs to surround oneself with this language.

My sophomore winter of college was spent in Lyon, France. Eight years of French lessons did little for me. However, before leaving for the trip, all students had to sign a letter promising to speak only French. We struggled mightily at first, but learned several ways to become proficient at French.

1. Watch TV. One of the things that helped me the most was watching movies or news in French.
2. Insist on speaking this language even when people try to be nice and switch to your own. You'll find they'll help you through words you do not know.
3. Immersion. Complete, total immersion without the fallback option of using your original language.

Edward Prisby said...

America's rise from backwater village to supreme global power didn't happen overnight, but it also didn't happen because we had a mode of communication and everyone else didn't - or that ours was better. Everyone else had one, and ours is not superior. English is an inferior language to Spanish in the most important aspect of all - difficulty to learn. Spanish is to language what the metric system is to distance. A simple (and beautiful, I might add) dialect with a distinct set of rules. We only speak English because the British had a better Navy than the French and Spanish.

And your problem with people in downtown crossing not speaking English isn't rooted in the fact that they refuse to learn it and THAT will somehow hamper our economy or national greatness. Your problem is that regardless of whether or not they've bothered to learn it, they are refusing to speak it. And that refusal is somehow an affront to "our" culture.

This country became "great" as a result of a great many things, with english being pretty far down the list. A few of those things, off the top of my head are our convenient geography which isolating us from conflict, our abundance of natural resources, the rule of law, a freemarket economy, a commitment to liberty - and finally - a fidelity to the belief that all men (and women) are created equal, and that no one culture is inherently superior to another. Inconvenient though it may be, if one chooses to speak the language of their origin, and their culture, it enriches our society. It does not subtract from it.

Ilana said...

Tu aime vraiment etre un chien, n'est-ce pas? Je n'ai aucun idea pourquoi tu n'accepte pas que c'est simplement stupide de parler dans une lanuge autre que cequel des autres veutent parler.

Tu as compris, oui?

Ilana said...

Yes, English is not the official blogger language, either. However, whether or not I have officially declared my own blog to be written in English, it is.

We have tacitly accepted that as a standard. French is certainly more beautiful, yet the chosen method of communication here is English.

Edward Prisby said...

And if you chose to write your blog in French, you'd have French readers. Sure, I wouldn't understand it, and you'd lose out on my pithy comments. But so what? It doesn't make you lazy or rude or a bad person. It just makes you Ilana Davidi, French-speaker.

And maybe I'd learn French, rather than complaining that your blog wasn't in english. Wouldn't it be a wonderful solution to everybody's dilema if, instead of dumbing society down to one standard, people were engaged enough to pick up other languages and cultures and appreciate them for what they were.

In short - you were walking through Downtown Crossing, a literal and symbolic amalgamation of cultures if ever there was one in the whole country. Four lines of public transportation from all over the Greater Metro Boston area flow through that one half-mile plot of land. Bringing travelers from all cultures, walks of life, economic and social strata. Now that's diversity. Don't complain about it. Embrace it.

Ilana said...

Lazy? Rude? Bad? What in the heck are you talking about?

Hmm...maybe I should start writing my blog in French, seeing as how you comprehend it so poorly in English. ;)

Keith said...

Children, don't make me turn this Internet around. 'Cause I'll totally do it.

Ilana said...

HAHAHHAHAHA!!! Although if this is just an effort to get us to call you "daddy," it's totally not working. =D

Anonymous said...

ooh Ilana,
I appreciated seeing insults in my langage! I felt like I was home again ;)

I wish that people would just conjugate their irregular verbs correctly and wouldn't say things like "I should have went", it drives me crazy!!! I hear it all the time (maybe it's a southern thing?)

Anonymous said...

Hee hee hee...you called him a dog!!