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Author Topic: English as a First Language
Richard Dey
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Is making English 'official' and 'common' (4064) in the manner of 31 USC Sect 324 ("Inscriptions on Coins," 1908.05.18) and 31 USC Sect 324a ("Inscriptions on Currency and Coins," 1955.07.11? i.e., a lot of meaningless verbiage in any language?

Will Boston be able to remove its federally ordered Spanish signage from its subway? Can we erase the directions to Nuevo York (even the Spanish is wrong since Eboracum is blatantly neuter)? Will San Francisco become Saint Francis -- with feminist demands for Saint Frances? Will the Bishop of San Antonio feel obliged to learn decent English?

Can we save a fortune dumping bilingual forms in our byzantine bureaucracy?

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NSCutler
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And can we finally kick out those unamerican Amish folks, or at least force them to speak English and use toasters?
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livermeer kenmaile
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The larger patterns of Eurocentric global culture are making Europe into some kind of multilingual federation in which English is often the lingua france, while the old established federation of the United States is merging with North America into something similar, doing so from an opposite, highly centralized and culturually unified perspective.

Just as the post-WWII era has seen the massive Americanization of culturesa around the globe, so is the 21st century seeing osmosis in the reverse direction.

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Eric
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quote:
...with feminist demands for Saint Frances?
Only if the original name was "Santa Francesca".
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WarrsawPact
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kenmeer -
quote:
Just as the post-WWII era has seen the massive Americanization of culturesa around the globe, so is the 21st century seeing osmosis in the reverse direction.
I don't think so. Globalization has always travelled in all directions.

The fact that so many people have picked up on American innovations and cultural patterns and language has to do with their preference for such things. As long as they like what we have to offer more than what has been previously available, they'll continue to "Americanize." So as long as the US remains highly productive culturally and economically, expect Americanization to continue.

All the same, expect the US to keep being "globalized." We're quite open to outside products and innovation as well, and will learn languages when they're sufficiently useful to us.
Then we take those practices and products and we modify them a bit to fit our tastes, just as foreign countries do with American products and practices.

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canadian
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English as the official language? You can pass the bill, but you can't make over 30 million Hispanics drink the kool-aid.
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sfallmann
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quote:
Originally posted by canadian:
English as the official language? You can pass the bill, but you can't make over 30 million Hispanics drink the kool-aid.

Sure you can. Stop providing the option to read\view\hear in Spanish.

When my great-grandparents came here from Italy, they didn't have the option to get anything in Italian. Same for my friends that came from China. Why should we provide anything in Spanish? Why do Spanish speaking people deserve special consideration over immigrants that speak other languages?

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DonaldD
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Well, yes, but try to stop those 30 million hispanics from speaking to each other in Spanish, serving each other in Spanish, electing Spanish-speaking representatives, creating Spanish-language media, etc. etc.

I would suggest that the difference between the Italians or Chinese and Hispanics is that the US is not landlocked with Italy or China, as it is with a continent with a population of 300M Spanish speaking folks. Until you close the southern border completely, you're going to have a significant population of mother-tongue/unilingual Spanish speakers and communities.

How exactly do you propose preventing the ability to read\view\hear in Spanish anyway?

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FiredrakeRAGE
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DonaldD -

I believe he is speaking of not mandating bilingual interaction with public officials. For example, no translators provided at ERs, no requirement to provide signage in other languages, no multi-lingual driver's license examinations, etc.

--Firedrake

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DonaldD
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I'm not so sure - his response was to canadian's theory about removing official recognition of the Spanish language. sfallmann was in effect saying "Stop providing the option to read\view\hear in Spanish" in response to canadian's (paraphrasing) "removing official recognition of Spanish will have little effect"

And really, if hospitals are run like businesses, won't they want to provide services that maximize profit - for instance services that extend their client base, or even simply lower the overhead costs of dealing with Spanish folks? Will a 100% Spanish local government be prohibited from providing Spanish services or putting up Spanish signs?

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FiredrakeRAGE
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DonaldD -

Frankly, given the current stance on the Commerce Clause, I do not doubt that it is within the power of the Federal government. Multiple languages are a huge barrier to commerce.

At this point I am still considering my stance on this. I do believe that removing the ability (or requirement) of government run institutions to cater to Spanish speakers would speed integration. It could also spark resentment. In the end, the resentment will be paltry - we're talking generations here, after all.

We should consider whether forced integration is the correct step to take - not just morally, but for the country as a whole. The ability to retain the important parts of the various cultures that we have is very important to the well being of the United States.

--Firedrake

[ May 19, 2006, 05:03 PM: Message edited by: FiredrakeRAGE ]

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Richard Dey
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Will speech-recognition and translation devises rendered this all moot?
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scifibum
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Like the Star Trek universal translator that makes it so you not only get to hear and speak your native language, you get to SEE the other person mouthing the words in your language too?

By the time we have the technology to render the issue entirely moot we'll also be dealing with the Galactic Federation and will have achieved peace and conquered disease.

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Richard Dey
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[Big Grin]
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Fel2.0
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lol
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mlve
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quote:
Frankly, given the current stance on the Commerce Clause, I do not doubt that it is within the power of the Federal government. Multiple languages are a huge barrier to commerce.

At this point I am still considering my stance on this. I do believe that removing the ability (or requirement) of government run institutions to cater to Spanish speakers would speed integration. It could also spark resentment. In the end, the resentment will be paltry - we're talking generations here, after all.

Doesn't Canada do this fairly effectively, since both French and English are the official languages?
Doesn't this bill seem to be directed at the Mexican immigrant (Both legal and Illegal)? Would Puerto Ricans be bound by this law?

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DonaldD
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I'm unclear how people's choice of language is a barrier to inter-state commerce.

As an example, the US' biggest trading partner is 1/4+ french, the 2nd biggest trading partner is 100% spanish, the 3rd is 100% chinese, etc. About 75% of trade with the top-10 trading partners of the US is done with companies working in non-english societies.

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Richard Dey
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The problem with the way it's done in Canada is that the whole population can speak neither good English nor good French!

Instead, it comes out oot: I doot not aboot the boot instead of I doubt not about the boot, and say De s'agit-il quoiT instead of De quoi s'agit-il (What's up? What's it abooooot?).

Outside Quebec and New Brunswick, I'd say that it's just school French -- and certainly not much better than Yankees speak it. The 2nd language in New England is, after all, not Spanish but French.

But after we took Montreal, they beat us at Quebec, so all's forgiven for the noon (i.e., the non) [Wink] . Besides, they gave us chowduh (chaudie"re) and we only gave them le hoot dog.

I liked Roger Parent's Canadian for English and French Speakers. Long ago, but hilarious.

Most PRs have switched to English. They learn it in school, on rap records, and all the major tv channels are in English. Or, of course, they just learn it in New York [Big Grin] .

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ngthagg
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"Doesn't Canada do this fairly effectively, since both French and English are the official languages?"

Hah!

Canada is officially bilingual. 11 of the 13 provinces and territories are officially English speaking. Quebec is officially French speaking, and New Brunswick is bilingual.

The big challenges are that anything to do with the federal government have to be done in both French and English. For example, any federal employees must be bilingual. This is applied without exception, which means that the government at times passes over highly qualified employees because they don't speak French. There are other situations that I can't think of right now. (Here's one: stop signs in Quebec have both STOP and ARRETE on them, something that is not even found in France, where they only have STOP supposedly.) Being officially bilingual means you have to do everything in both languages, without exception.

ngthagg

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DonaldD
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"The problem with the way it's done in Canada is that the whole population can speak neither good English nor good French!"

Hee hee! Coming as it does from a USer, that's really quite funny.

"De s'agit-il quoiT " ??? That's a new one for me. Maybe you're socializing with too many Acadians?

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DonaldD
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quote:
For example, any federal employees must be bilingual. This is applied without exception - ngthagg
This is simply not accurate. Certain positions are labelled as "bilingual"; others are not.
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Richard Dey
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DD: All the Canadians I know drink Labatts and, yes, almost all of them are Acadians. You never know what's going to come out of their mouths [Big Grin] .

My grandsons' new camp is in NB, and all the heavy work has been done on Labatt's. The kids made it the 'official beer' of Fort (formerly Camp) Sagkett, and the company sent them a donation. They really wanted free beer, but we owners were grateful. http://images.packworld.com/issues/06.03/images/Departments/Labatt.jpg This year they're planning to vote on an official chocolate company, an official computer-game company, an official jet-ski company, etc. They ain't dumb. Old Town is the official canoe company, and they too were generous. You wouldn't believe what health and insurance costs for kids in the woods. NB: They all learn some French, and the new sign up the road says Entre'e interdite sous peine de nous amende. Ce ne'st pas la peines. Sorry. Some Acadadian. It's like walking back to the days of Samuel de Champlain that French.

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Richard Dey
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DD: All the Canadians I know drink Labatts and, yes, almost all of them are Acadians. You never know what's going to come out of their mouths [Big Grin] .

My grandsons' new camp is in NB, and all the heavy work has been done on Labatt's. The kids made it the 'official beer' of Fort (formerly Camp) Sagkett, and the company sent them a donation. They really wanted free beer, but we owners were grateful. http://images.packworld.com/issues/06.03/images/Departments/Labatt.jpg This year they're planning to vote on an official chocolate company, an official computer-game company, an official jet-ski company, etc. They ain't dumb. Old Town is the official canoe company, and they too were generous. You wouldn't believe what health and insurance costs for kids in the woods. NB: They all learn some French, and the new sign up the road says Entre'e interdite sous peine de nous amende. Ce ne'st pas la peines. Sorry. Some Acadadian. It's like walking back to the days of Samuel de Champlain that French.

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canadian
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Richard, I'm afraid you're getting exposure to the people even the rest of Canadians scratch their heads over.

"What did that guy just say?"
"I don't know...something about a boot?"

ngthagg, have you always been in Calgary? I can tell you, the country looks much different from that most conservative city in the Nation, than from anywhere else.

I don't know why, but Alberta seems to have a real hate on for the French. Probably Pierre Eliott Trudeau and the National Energy Program.

At any rate, it's not such a chore to learn French. Stephen Harper did it in order to become Prime Minister and if you ask him, he'll likely tell you it was a welcome asset to his skills.

[ May 23, 2006, 02:52 PM: Message edited by: canadian ]

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DonaldD
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Hah! Acadians - I knew it! How about this: we don't point to the Mississippi delta (or the Ozarks) as representative of US language skills, you don't giggle at the Acadians [Smile] I mean, sure, socialize, have fun, fantastic people and all that, salt of the earth, but probably not the place to learn the queen's English is all...
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Richard Dey
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Ayuh. Larn yar English down Maine whar people knows what they-uh sayin'.

Canadian: all the sign says is BUZZ OFF! It just takes longer to say it in French [Smile] .

What I still find remarkable is that Connecticut has become the standard of American English. It's the only state that doesn't have a local accent [Big Grin] .

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Eric
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quote:
It's the only state that doesn't have a local accent
There may be some truth to that. I grew up in and spent most of my life in Connecticut, and I've had more than one person (mostly southerners) say they can't figure out where I'm from because I have no accent. One guy said I sound like a news anchor.
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Richard Dey
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[Big Grin] Ayuh.
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