English or other languages?

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English or other languages?

Postby dulcimerdawg » Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:41 pm

Someone alluded to the language issue in another thread, and I'm not sure I have seen it discussed here before. Should English be our sole language in the USA or not? Why or why not? I'll cast the first vote, and I say it should be English only. EDITED and ADDED 7/12/06 OK. I agree that the poll choices are ambiguous and not really what I was asking. Let's disregard the poll questions, but your discussions should continue, because your opinions are interesting. I think what I meant to be asking in the poll is whether English should be the official language in the US. Even if it is the official language, other languages would be welcomed. I guess by using the word "offical" I meant that we would not be required to educate non-English speaking people in their native tongue. If for instance a restaurant chooses to print their menu in several languages, they may do that to help generate more business; however, if a restaurant refuses to do so, then it is their problem if they lose business because of it. I know I am not clearing up my question any, but I guess the word "required" is key here. If at some point in the future, all restaurants have to use multiple languages, all ingredient labels, all installation instrucitons, all schools, and on and on and on, that would add just another layer of Government mandates on our people. That may be good and that my be bad. That's what we can discuss.
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Postby Honniker » Tue Jul 11, 2006 10:48 pm

I'm voting for english only because otherwise the country will end up with everything in Spanish too like Canada and French which let's admit is kind of obnoxious. Besides, in my opinion, if the immigrants want to become citizens they need to learn english. It's the most commonly spoken language and if they want a new country they need to learn the language and not expect us to just deal with the fact that they can't speak english. EDIT: Sorry if this sounds rude or anything, I don't want to sound mean. It's late here and I think I might've come across that way. Don't want to offend anyone.
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Postby kwl » Tue Jul 11, 2006 11:30 pm

I can't vote because the choice I would make is not part of the poll. I think all residents of the USA should be able to speak and read English. I have no problems with immigrants and others speaking their own languages. My ancestors who came to the US in the late 1800s spoke German and learned English. I remember speaking some German with my grandmother. I like in among the Amish here in Pennsylvania and they speak both English and Pennsylvania German. I wouldn't want to take that away from them. Having recently visited Germany I am well aware of how easier it is to get along if you know the native language. I'm also amazed at how quickly some of my German came back to me when I started using it again.
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Postby jnday » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:11 am

I don't think this is about taking away someone's right to speak in their own language. But I do agree that immigrants that plan on setting up permanent residence should learn to speak English, and that we shouldn't have to post signs and write instruction manuals for American products in 20 different languages. It promotes separation of cultures within the country rather than unification.
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Postby Marc Mathieu » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:12 am

[quote]Originally posted by Honniker ........like Canada and French which let's admit is kind of "obnoxious" ---------------------------------------------------------------- Honniker... I was going to remain silent after reading your comment, but finally decided to reply and will remain diplomatic even if it's late. "Obnoxious" is a powerful word. I just wanted to let you know that I'm a (bi-lingual) French-Canadian living in Northern Ontario, CANADA. and strongly feel that bi-lingualism is a great advantage. I can travel anywhere in Canada, the US and many parts of the world and communicate without any problems. (BTW..I have taken Spanish lessons in the past and this has come in handy during my travels to Mexico & S.America) I've been invited, and have been to teach and perform some French-Canadian music at dulcimer festivals in the US for 3 yrs now. It was truly appreciated by the students and audience. I'm really looking forward to going back this August! I don't believe that at any time, my efforts & pride in sharing my culture were being dubbed as being "obnoxious" ..... I understand that there are some political issues over French/English language in the province of Québec, but I prefer not to engage in a discussion over this matter at this time. Maybe this is what you were referring to, I don't know. Remember,this is only a small part of Canada. When you happen to have a few spare moments, I invite you to read my article about French-Canadian Music & Song in the current issue of: www.dulcimersessions.com I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading it & listening to the song. Take care,all the best to you and keep on strummin' Wink
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Postby Carla Maxwell » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:25 am

I'm also not voting, because I agree that the right choice really isn't available for me. I believe reading and writing English should be required of everyone, but I also think a second language should be required during all school years. I don't think kids should wait until older grades to be required to take another language (at my daughter's school, a second language is required for two years during high school).
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Postby Dave-M » Wed Jul 12, 2006 1:58 am

Can't vote, as with most polls "Coke or Pepsi?" isn't a choice if you want a beer. I should start by saying that English is not the only language that you hear in my home, and I live in Arizona where everything is so "press 1 for English, press 2 for Spanish" that it has become a very emotional issue. We have a constant drone for more money for English learning. My adopted daughter came to America without knowing our alphabet. She is no longer classified as an English language learner because, in her words "there was nobody in the school who could speak my language". The Spanish speaking kids are for the most part perpetual English language learners because they have people to speak Spanish to in school and are not isolated, and therefore not highly motivated to learn English. I've become quite intolerant of the throw more money at it thing concept. It costs nothing to teach kids English, just put them where that's all they hear (at least in school), and they learn it because they want to be able to communicate. Language is about communication.. Now that I've got that rant out of my system, here's the reason that I decided to join into the discussion. When English language speakers of European ancestry were the clear and overwhelming majority in America, the culture of that majority was not threatened. Nobody cared about the many languages that were spoken in peoples home or small parts of town. White folks decided to have small families, we were sold the idea of diversity, and now the culture is changing and the majority status to protect it is vanishing. The handwriting is on the wall and it scares the heck out of people. That, is the real issue that is unspoken behind cries for official English as I see it. Peace and music, Dave
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Postby missy » Wed Jul 12, 2006 5:11 am

I can't really vote either....... I have no problems with someone speaking whatever language. I, too, come from ancestors that spoke and learned in German, here (my grandfather was born in Cincinnati, but went to a German school and church, so didn't actually speak English until he started work - after 6th grade - as a typesetter!). I do see the "simplicity" of having one official language on legal and governmental stuff. I'd hate to see all signs and papers being printed in 30 some different languages. I also see the problems that happen when the standard tests are given each year here. The state requires the test to be given in the students in their "primary" language. Each year the state has to call for speakers of some more obscure language if the school has only one student speaking it. Again - I have no problem with people being multi-lingual. I wish I was, I'm the "typical" American that can't speak another language at all (the 3 years of French I had back in the stone ages don't count!). I think it's amazing when I work with someone from, say Brussels, that speak 4 languages fluently!
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Postby Mizzgnomer » Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:14 am

Actually we speak American not English, we have taken the english language and added to it words from NAs, Germans, Russians, Spanish, the list goes on. I voted for english since what we speak is basically engish with additions. I apologise for any toes I'm going to step on here BUT if I were to go to Japan, China, Cuba, France, Germany I would be expected to LEARN their language if I wanted to live there and get a job. Why should the USA be any differant, if an immagrant is planning on staying here and becoming a citizen they should be required to speak the language. Congress has been working on a bill that will make english the language of the US. My grandmother immegrated from Germay in the late 1800's, and my mom told me that while she was growing up when grandma had friends from the old country over and they were speaking german she and her brother and sister were sent out of the room they were NOT allowed to learn german, they were US citizens. Living in the Keys we are swamped with refugees from Cuba, all south Florida is. In Miami you can not get a job unless you speak Spanish! You don't need to speak english but you must speak spanish. Why? Well it's partially because of the Cuban refugees that have NO desire to stay in the US, they came here to stay till Castro is no longer in power, and don't want to be bothered with learning english. The draw to come is very strong and for a lot of the refugees it has to do with US policy towards them and nothing at all to do with Castro's regine. What is this policy? It's called wetfoot/dryfoot. If a boat load of cubans are caught BEFORE reaching shore they are sent back to Cuba, but if they make it to shore and their feet touch US soil then they now get $10K. How's that for being actually an illegal immegrant, the US government pays you. The benefits don't stop there, you are given a house to live in (I'm not sure how many months in advance are paid for), a car, help finding a job, an instant green card, and if you are disabled you get on SSi instantly. If you are an american and become disabled it can literally take years to finally get into the SSi program. For those that actually come here to escape Castro's regine and plan to stay here and make the US their home I say welcome them. But until this wetfoot/dryfoot policy for cubans is done away with how can anyone tell who really wants to become a US Citizen and who made the trip just for the perks? Sorry about getting on my pet peeve here. But only speaking american, and understanding a little french I find it very frustrating to go into a shop and have absolutely no one in it that can speak american. The US definately needs a national language. At least in the Keys you don't have to speak spanish to get a job but still most of the shops are staffed by cuban refugees many of which speak little or no english. Judy in Fl Tongue
Last edited by Mizzgnomer on Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Melody » Wed Jul 12, 2006 6:49 am

I vote for Marc's response. Well said. Melody
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Postby dranner63 » Wed Jul 12, 2006 7:03 am

I voted English only. I respect what Canada did to make sure it's great land has language (two of them) a continuity. but isn't it a little different for Canada (at least in the beginning...marc correct me if I am wrong) Canada at its inception had a large area of French speakers. and while the dual language requirement didn't happen until later, the people were there for a long time. Beyond that, immigrants of all countries must learn English or French to live. My mom was born in Poland in '43. they fled to southern Germany when she was 2. Most of the extended family gathered in that area and stayed for several years. Then the bulk of them immigrated to Canada. They could come without a sponsor if they agreed to be a laborer for 2 yrs, which they were more than willing to do (even tho one was even a doctor). By the end of two yrs they all spoke English. my Opa decided to immigrate to the US. That process took 10 yrs and a sponsor. Oma, took English classes right away followed by nursing school. Oma took mom to the farm of an acquaintance and she learned English over the summer. When she started the first day of school in US, she didn't miss a grade and graduated when she was 17. Everyone learned English, but we have continued to speak German at home. my mom is my nephew's nanny and she only speaks German to him and his 2 yr. old language is German and English. I also agree with what missy said, that a 2nd language should be required at an Early age. In Germany I know they have all kids in English classes by the time they are 8 and some younger. As I can see with my nephew, learning German and English as language is developing, is a great benefit for him in both languages. the fact that we only have one language as the primary language, doesn't mean that we can't have the language of our choice in our families. when mom takes Caleb out to stores, she doesn't even think of changing back to English for Caleb. So I guess, i think that all immigrants, being motivated to come to the US for a better life, should be motivated to learn English to go to school and work. Offering a language classes would benifit everyone, as long as they happen early enough (middle school is too late) And speaking the 1st language in family and community is a wonderful way to keep ones culture alive. Well, i am sure there are all sorts of logic holes in my longwinded reasoning. have a great day! Deb
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Postby RedBandanaGal » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:03 am

The short and sweet of it: If you're gonna live in a particular country, then you had best be learning their language to communicate! Use your own language at home, and when out and about, you speak the home team's lingo. As for me learning a second language.... FORGET IT! I had no interest in learning Spanish in 6th grade, I have no interest in it now. Kids should not be forced to learn a second language. Encouraged, yes, but it should not be required. Learn it to prep for a move, but otherwise, don't worry about it. There are a lot of people out in the world just like me who never have much use for a second language, and their school time is wasted having to learn Spanish or whatever. Let them do what I did in 6th grade... I had the option of Spanish or sitting in on an extra Reading class, which honed my reading speed and skill to more than twice what it was expected to be at that point in my life. I benefited much more from that class than I ever would benefit from a second language that I would never use. I am one of thousands who never travel much further than the end of their noses and have no major need to speak anything but English.
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