English or other languages?

Call the tune - Talk about whatever!

Common ground...

Postby Rosemary » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:43 pm

There are so many beautiful languages. I speak English (American) and Italian. I would not be without any of the music and rhythm of each language in the world. I hope to relate on a common ground with everyone who loves the simple, sweet music of the dulcimer. So as English is the most common world-wide means of communication, and as the dulcimer is said to have originated in an English speaking country (with all due respect to the other instruments of origin and musical roots that it is said to be derived from), I think that gives us a common ground for communication.
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Postby DameMags » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:45 pm

It's definitely a topic that can be argued several ways. A few years ago, I remember a BIG stink at the University - they threatened to discontinue the Czech language courses, primarily due to finances. It didn't happen, the local (and statewide as I understood) Czech community fought to keep it. Last I knew they still give credits for their Czech courses. I had a disagreement with my son's jr high spelling teacher. At the time he was reading primarily British authors, J.K. Rowling, Brian Jacques, among others. And the spelling word was "favourite". Yep, Tank gave 'er the BRITISH English spelling. Myself I'll flip/flop the spelling on similar words - behaviour & practise are two. Given the popularity of the Potter stories at the time I felt she should have at least pointed out the variants in spelling - WHICH WERE STILL PROPER ENGLISH. Just not AMERICAN English. My point got through - the word was still spelled "wrong", but she did discuss variants. I work for a state office. And yes, there's sections that have a *high* ethnic percentage, of which ever stripe. But the dominant language used in the documents, etc, is American English. The interview questions are in AE, the Welcome letter is in AE, the benefits information is in AE. Even my most recent "nightmare" - the specifications book - is solely in AE. Your native language may be any one of several, but there if you're not able to understand, or make yourself understood, in English - you've got a real problem. Personal opinion here - I think attempting to actively discourage the use of a culture's dominant language is detrimental. JMO, and I may be WAY off base, language is a central part of any culture. Granted my UK history is sketchy in parts; the dominance of the government there - historically, not recently (at least not that I'm aware of) and the attempt to in some cases, fairly eradicate some of the culture (I'm thinking specifically of the Diskilting Act and the Norman conquest) did, in some cases, more harm than good. How much of the individual cultures were lost because of active suppression? (arts, skills, crafts, stories, music) It's not like we have the most sterling record here in similar instances - how much culture simply died out with the elders during the assimilation of the various tribes? My godmother's parents came over from Sicily - all the kids were born stateside, and were actively discouraged (both in and out of the family) from speaking Italian. It wasn't until Comere & Compere had kids that Mama loosened up - and at least two of her grandsons are fluent in Italian (plus a couple other languages). I come from a very "white-bread" family, from a very "white-bread" small town in the midwest. OHO yes! I can *definitely* see why folks think of the midwest as boring. So much of the language, the culture is weeded out, so we're not "different", so we "fit in" that we lose the "flavor" of who we are. It wasn't until I was a young adult and *older* - that I started to learn my family's various cultures. (The most "ethnic" family recipe we had was noodles from scratch) The Ice's High & Low German - what Dad called PA Dutch - was gone. The Daly's Gaelic - and that branches' needleworking skills - gone. (it was only five years ago I found what Grandma Daly's husband's first name was!) The 180+ year old McFarland strain of black-eyed peas we still have - but the story? Gone. Did it come directly from Scotland, or Scotland via Ireland, or someplace else entirely? good question. Perhaps those aren't the most sterling examples - but I definitely feel the lack, and I think keeping the language(s) alive in the family would have helped. Yes, AE as the primary language of the government, yes save the family traditions for home, family and friends. Just don't make it so difficult to KEEP family/cultural traditions that they become lost in the shuffle of becoming "American".
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Postby musicfan » Wed Jul 12, 2006 8:54 pm

I didn't feel that TJ was attacking Christianity at all here . . . maybe I'm wrong but can we try not to jump on him when he's expressing an opinion? And I love seeing other languages on signs. I remember being at the Minneapolis/St. Paul airport and had so much fun reading the direction signs in Japanese. I love it. And it's kind to our tourists. And I don't want anyone telling me what to do or what language to speak. I like being able to speak English and Japanese and I want to learn Spanish much more fluently. I want to be a good neighbor to the people who struggle with English by being able to welcome them and help them by knowing some Spanish. A few months ago I picked a woman with a child off the side of the road and she really couldn't speak English and we had to communicate by pointing and gesturing . . . mostly because everytime I tried to pull my highschool Spanish out of my brain Japanese came out instead. I think it comes down to a love thing. If we truly love our neighbors then we'll need to be able to speak to them. Interesting no? How can we feel comfortable around people we cannot speak to? It's why I want to become multi-lingual. And why I think it's ok to administer tests in people's native languages at certain levels. Otherwise they're at a disadvantage because they are having to translate everything through their native language. My sis' roommate from freshman year in college was from Taiwan though she had some Korean ancestry. She was taking German at the time as a language and her German homework had her notes in Chinese, translated to English, and then over to German. Or back the whole other way through it. How neat if American students could do the same.
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Postby JayByrd » Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:20 am

How about we move to other non-English speaking countries and expect them to accomadate us only in our native language? I don't really see that happening. So why should it here? And JFYI, I bilingual with a smattering of a few more languages.
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Postby JupiterCreek » Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:06 am

As an Australian can I chime in here and say that surely it was the acceptance of people from so many countries and cultures that made (and still makes) the USA the innovative and successful country that it is? As for spelling etc... who cares? All languages evolve, so the very British English as I learned at school in Australia has become a mishmash of English, American and other bits and pieces. My English teacher would have told me off for starting that sentence with a preposition, but she's probably dead by now so I got away with it! :-) Yes it annoys me when American spellers use a different spelling to what I'd use, but the advantages of communicating in a language that's largely recognisable as English far outweight the disadvantages. It can be confusing when talking to people under the age of 30 who tend to use not only American spelling but American idioms, but once we've worked out each others' meanings we can communicate. If you say you've lucked out to an older Aussie we think it means you've run out of luck. If you say it's all downhill from here we sympathise with you and hope things will get better for you. In Australia a woman's fanny is something she would only discuss with her doctor or husband or close females friends... I think you get the idea! The one thing I cannot understand is why you'd put the month, then the day, then the year when writing down a date. Why not go from smallest to largest, or largest to smallest? Today is the 13th of July 2006... 13/07/06... easy. ;-) Of course I understand that the USA is one of only two superpowers at the moment, so we'll let you do whatever you want! The guy running your country scares the beejeesus out of us so please spell anything anyway you want, and write your dates however you want... just don't let him blow us up. We started our multicultural experiment here in Australia in the 1970's, and it was fairly successful. Unfortunately now that the socially and politically conservative forces have gained control in Australia there's a push to take us back to the 1950's where everyone was God-fearing and preferably Christian, politicians were people you admired and obeyed, and there was a clearly definable enemy that you distrusted and trusted your government to protect you from. With the end of the Cold War there was no common enemy, so the shortcomings of our political and social systems came under scrutiny and were often found wanting; it was in the best interests of those in political, social and economical power to find new enemies for us to fear, and as always the mysterious 'east' (Asia and the Middle East) provided plenty of sources of fear for us.
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Postby dulcimerdawg » Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:24 am

<<<<Unfortunately now that the socially and politically conservative forces have gained control in Australia there's a push to take us back to the 1950's where everyone was God-fearing and preferably Christian, politicians were people you admired and obeyed, and there was a clearly definable enemy that you distrusted and trusted your government to protect you from.>>>> "Unfortunately" ???????? I think we could use a little more of all of the above in America myself ....
Last edited by dulcimerdawg on Thu Jul 13, 2006 7:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby JupiterCreek » Thu Jul 13, 2006 8:36 am

Originally posted by dulcimerdawg I think we could use a little more of all of the above in America myself ....
And isn't it great that we both live in countries where we can have these differing points of view and not be shooting rockets at each other or blowing up each others' families in retribution?
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Postby musicfan » Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:25 am

Originally posted by JayByrd How about we move to other non-English speaking countries and expect them to accomadate us only in our native language? I don't really see that happening. So why should it here?
And I do see it happening. I see it everytime Americans go over-seas. They expect to speak to people in English and be accommodated in English. That really isn't the point though. My point was that we should be more accommodating of people in their native languages and not get all in a huff just because they want to speak other languages at home or even, heaven forbid, be tested in their native language. I've taken tests in other languages before and I much prefer being tested in English. I think best in English. As to the whole talking in a native language at work? If it isn't interfering with their customer service or their job - why does it bother people? If it bugs you so much then learn their language so that you can talk to them too. As to why it should happen here in the States even if it doesn't happen over-seas? It's because we are a land built on the diversity of its people. Built upon the cultural heritage of its people. And why should we take that away . . . from anyone who has chosen to live here. I would frankly be livid if someone tried to take my cultural heritage away from me like that.
And isn't it great that we both live in countries where we can have these differing points of view and not be shooting rockets at each other or blowing up each others' families in retribution?
Yep. It is. Ain't civilization grand?
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Postby Dennis DenHartog » Thu Jul 13, 2006 9:59 am

Originally posted by JayByrd The great thing about not knowing what you're doing is that you don't know that you can't do something.
And the bad thing about not knowing what you're doing is that you have no idea of what the consequences might be.
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Postby JayByrd » Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:47 am

Musicfan, my point was that we shouldn't expect to be acommodated. I've been to a couple of dozen or so other countries where English is not the native language and I never have expected that. I just don't think we should expect more of others than they do of us. And Dennis, nothing like stifiling the urge to gain knowledge and trying to be more than one is now. And on those 'notes', I'm outta this discussion.
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Postby dulcilydian » Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:52 am

This discussion brings to mind an article I read some time ago about Alaskan and Russian fishermen. Apparently, it has been common practice, even during the "cold war", for American and Russian fishing boats to tie up to each other and exchange parts of their catches before heading back to port. I'm sure the reasoning behind this was purely economic, since there are some types of fish marketable only in the U.S., and others marketable only in Russia. But still it seems to me that as long as both sides are busy at work trying to earn a living, their differences suddenly seem much less important. (Back on topic, I wonder whether these guys spoke English, Russian, or both?)
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Postby djsykes » Thu Jul 13, 2006 5:47 pm

I 'm sorry but I strongly feel that it should be English only. Think about it, during my time they've taken prayers out of schools, you can't say the pledge of allegience the way it was originally written because you might offend someone (Get over it, this is America). Everytime you get an automated message the first languge you are prompted with is Spanish. I'll give you another example: The building where I work has a Spanish speaking cleaning crew. If you don't know Spanish you can't communicate with them. Things get done incorrectly and we're at fault becuase of the language barrier. I think it is great that America allows one to pursue higher educations and gives us a chance to learn, whatever!!! But with that said, this is America and we are a English speaking society, period!!! Mad!
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