Saturday, July 12, 2008

Learning English

I've been reading some posts on the Washington Post pages about Obama's recent speech on the importance of learning a second language and urging less anxiety about immigrant children learning English.  Many of them echoed local comments about Mexicans refusing to learn English.   I wonder where that comes from if not from fear?  Our valley is pretty well populated with immigrants, mostly from Mexico, and I have run into very few who are not doing their best to pick up enough English to get by.  More important.  There are few immigrant children who are not learning English and quickly at that.  Admittedly that's all anecdotal, but where is the evidence that "they refuse to learn English."  We've been through this before with the Italians, Germans, Poles, Japanese and all other non-English speaking immigrant groups.  Eventually it passes but not without causing a lot of unnecessary hurt and humiliation.  As for me, English is the only language I need.  I'd write more about that but a padre friend just called saying he's RSVP'd to an invitation to a fiesta out at the ranch.  Everyone is supposed to wear a sombrero and be ready to play a pinata game.  Should be fun, so sayonara for now and mahalo for reading today.

6 comments:

Geezer Dude said...

Why doesn't everyone learn 'murican? Are they just dumb? Even when you say something to them louder and slower, they still don't understand!

Oh, well, some folks just don't know how to get along in the world.

Ouch! I bit my tongue while it was stuck in my cheek.

SUNRISE SISTER said...

CP - You are too modest, obviously you have a handle on Hawaiian, Japanese, French and I've heard you speak Minnesewten many times - yah sure, I know that's any easy one to learn:)

Country Parson (Steven Woolley) said...

Before someone else wades in with the same comment, l believe that unity of language is important to unity of community. Many separatist movements have been ignited by language as, for instance in Canada and Belgium. That's one reason why China is insisting on Mandarin as the "official" language of the land. On the other hand, Canada, the European Community and others have also demonstrated that language does not have to be a barrier to unity. I regret that I have no facility with a second or third language. A smattering of German is about it. I think I know why so many Americans get upset over this issue, and I wonder if they would be helped by being reminded that Jesus lived in an place where the power was spoken in Latin, commerce was conducted in street Greek, the locals spoke Aramaic and the educated elite worked in Hebrew.

Anonymous said...

yes, most immigrants pick up some English fairly soon, and their children become virtual native speakers, except for yiddish in New York, where the native English speakers have to pick up some Yiddish to understand what New Yorkers are saying sometimes! The New Yorker magazine always has words in articles from Yiddish that are not yet in my recent Collegiate English Dictionary! I had to guess what a mosh pit was, or kibbitz, or a yenta, or a real mensch, yet New York writers just assume that everyone in the hinterland knows these words.

Country Parson (Steven Woolley) said...

Dear Anon,
Having spent 18 years in NYC I thought all those words were as common as Russian Rye Bread. What's the big deal? Which reminds me, every now and then I'll hear some very offensive Yiddish words used around town by people who obviously have no idea what they said.
CP

Anonymous said...

You mean like referring to someone as a shwanz or a putz (of ocurse I have no idea what those words mean-they're not in my dictionary!)