La Lengua

I’m just going to put a general disclaimer out right now that you probably won’t agree with me on this one. If you do, that’s awesome, but I think the majority of my fellow Americans won’t be “feeling me” (as the kids say).

The subject of Spanish v. English has been increasing prevalent at all the little coffee clatches I attend, which is why I choose to share my thoughts with you. I don’t really want to rail against my new-found friends and coworkers, so I shall rail via the www, against the offending parties, and hope that they all mysteriously get the web address to this blog. And that they read it. And that their minds are changed as a result of my superior wit. Here goes.

No one (repeat: NO ONE) has to or should have to learn English. I don’t give a rat’s behind what country this is (I know it’s America, FYI) or what language you and your mommy and daddy and all your buddys at State U spoke. I’ll give you that it’s bullheaded for people to refuse to learn a trade language (be it English, Spanish, Japanese, etc…). But English ain’t a right, my friends. It’s just a useful tool. No matter where you are in America, you don’t have a right to be greeted in English anymore than a New Zealander has a right to be greated in Māori. Complaining as if you do is just a waste of time and energy.

Further, the trade language in this town isn’t even English (it’s Spanish), which makes all the bitching about Spanish speakers that much more ridiculous and pathetic. Demanding that people speak/learn English here is the equivalent of someone from Moscow visiting a US Army base over there and demanding that everyone on the base speak Russian because this is RUSSIA gosh-darnit.

Main point: It is ignorant to suggest that a group should learn a whole new language purely for your convenience. If people can get by without learning a new language, more power to them. If you live in a town where your native tongue isn’t well known, maybe you should forgo some of the complaining and then use all the time that freed up to learn something new (like a language). Being understood or able to understand isn’t a right. It’s a skill.

Get your head out of your rear, find a tutor, and read up on your history. There’s a reason “immigrants are taking all the jobs.” It’s because when they hit a new situation, they adapt and overcome. Can’t say the same for my “American” compatriots, lately.

[PS added on 10/22 at 7:22pm: It seems necessary to clarify; I’m not suggesting that people who refuse to learn the trade language should have exceptions made for them at work or in commerce. I just don’t agree that English is the default trade language anywhere American soil exists.]

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2 thoughts on “La Lengua”

  1. Freedom. That’s the answer. You have the freedom to adapt to your surroundings or move on. When you live in a border town, it’s inhabitants will speak the dominant language of that area. If you want to stay, you pump up your linguistic skills, if not, you have the freedom to move to an area where your linguistic skills match the environment. People adapt or leave. When my Croatian grandmother moved to America, her neighbors were Italian and Polish. Not only did she learn how to speak English, but she learned how to communicate and understand her neighbors native language. She could have demanded that everyone speak English, but that would have made her new world experience even more isolated. Let’s all put on our big girl pants and try to reach out to our neighbors instead of slamming the front door in their face. How about finding a neighbor who is trying to learn English while you are trying to learn Spanish and help each other? Try to look at the positive side of the challenge and not get yourself in a hissy fit. It is all a matter of choice.

  2. I would love to know who drove you over the edge to write this! And sadly, arguing with them is just usless. I’m on my best behavior in this subject area if I do say so, I do have to say though, fear of learning and embarassment holds alot of opinions firmly in place.

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