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Old 05-27-2009, 05:39 PM
 
Location: Sandpoint, Idaho
2,880 posts, read 5,071,331 times
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The only official language should be English. It is language of our legal and systems of governance. No other arguments are necessary nor valid.

No languages should be prohibited. Historical and economically wrong and immoral. However, no institution should be burdened with any mandate that requires second language expenditure. End the public funding of printing of extra ballots and all the other services in other languages. Also, let's end the farce of bilingual ed.

Now, with such a policy in place, I would argue there is ample room for assistance to second language speakers. Private firms will find it in their best interest to hire people who are bilingual or better. Not because the government says so but because it is good business. Private ethnic charity will find great returns for providing pro bono and other welfare help to those from different language backgrounds. Even government will find it in their best interest to make sure to hire individuals who are bilingual to communicate the policies they wish to enact. Individuals should find in their best interest to gain fluency in a language or two, beyond English. Finally, foreign-language speakers should not implicitly if nto explicitly that it is their responsibility to learn the laws of this land in the language of this land. Should they choose not to, let them bear the consequences of their economic disadvantage.

Let's return sanity and efficiency to our government while getting the country back to its libertarian roots...and do so without the unnecessary hatred, fear-mongering, and ignorance.

S.
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Old 05-27-2009, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,538,289 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post

Lets take a look at Canada shall we? Canada has two official languages; English and French.
The number of individual Canadians who are bilingual is excruciatingly small. Among French Canadians, less than half would be able to carry on a very simple conversation in English. A much smaller number , maybe 5-10%, who are functionally bilingual. Among English-speaking Canadians, the number who can speak French decently well might be one or two percent.

Intermarriage between a French and English speaking Canadian is extremely rare, as are the number of children being raised in a bilingual household. There are probably more children in Canada who can speak English and Ukrainian, than the number who can speak English and French.

All Canadians are required to study the other language in school, for a full 12 years. At the end, very few can speak the other language any better than I could speak Mandarin Chinese after two semesters. In fact, I worked at two places in Canada with maybe 50 employees, and I could speak French better than any Canadian on the staff. They were flabbergasted to hear me, an American, speaking French on the telephone.

This is a bit off topic, but merely declaring a coiuntry to be bilingual does not guarantee that its citizenry will make any efffort to speak both of them.
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Old 05-27-2009, 08:15 PM
 
Location: 125 Years Too Late...
10,296 posts, read 9,975,609 times
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Sorry about the long post, but anyone who starts a language thread should be aware that if I see it, this is what you will get from me! If you are not into languages, this post probably isn't something you will want to read.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
As an American I often ponder why we cringe at the idea of a second language, specifically Spanish. Why do we aboslutely refuse to learn a second language? Pride? Patriotism? Xenophobia? Lazy? What?
‘We’ don’t cringe. Don’t generalize. I absolutely love languages and spend most all my free time studying them. I’m a bit extreme, but I’m not the only US citizen who loves languages. There are a lot of us out there. Now, having said that, sadly, there are also plenty of ‘linguophobes’ out there who believe that English is handed down from high and everyone in the universe should learn it and feel lucky they did. Let me tell you something: I know this will ruffle some feathers, but English as spoken and written pretty much sucks as far as languages go. (more on that in a moment)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
It is only logical America should have another language and that language is the language of our neighbors, Spanish.
Nope. I see no reason to have a mandated bilingual society in the US. Now, I DO think knowing Spanish (or any other language) is a great idea. But, I don’t believe it should be mandated, and I also feel that anyone living in the US needs to be functional in English. They can speak any language they want any time they want, but they need to know English in order to function properly in our society. (yes, it IS our society, not theirs--if I move to, say, Argentina, that is THEIR society, and I speak Spanish)


Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
It is said it is not difficult to learn Spanish, according to the U.S.. English is said to be the most difficult.
Spanish is actually grammatically more complex than English in its regularity. What Spanish has going for it that gives it an ‘edge’ for learners is that it has less grammatical irregularity than English, and it is near phonetic in spelling. English, on the other hand, would be far simpler grammatically than Spanish if it were regular. English loses its edge and then some because of the menagerie of grammatical irregularity. And, sorry English lovers, English spelling is an absolute asinine joke. You give me any LOGICAL reason for the crap we pass off for spelling and maybe we can talk about it (habit, tradition, word-borrowing, culture, etc are NOT legitimate reasons to retain insanity)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
The United States does not have an official language. Should a bill be passed claiming English and Spanish the official languages?
No, the US does not have an official language, but do we have a de facto language: English. There really isn’t any need to ‘officialize’ a language. It’s like making hot dogs the official food at baseball games. Would it change anything? Would everybody eat hot dogs at the games? No. Same applies to English as an official language. People are still going to speak whatever they like in a free country. Now... I do think that official business (government) should be conducted English only and everyone who lives here needs to be functional in English. But you don’t need an official anything to promote that. As for the private sector and retail business, no one has any business telling them to do there business in ANY specific language (again, it’s a FREE country).

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
The benifits of Americans learning a second language are huge, not only will America catch up with the modern world but we could communicate with millions of other people (350 million).
Many studies have shown the benefits of second language learning. Unfortunately, language nazis will never open their mind to any of that. English is God’s language, right?

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
With Spanish growing at a fast rate and Spanish already being the ?third? most spoken language in the world, it only makes sense. The amount of immigrants from Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries only speeds up the Spanish speaking population in America while leaving Americans that were born here unable to speak the second most common language. Infact most Immigrants that speak Spanish also speak English.
In my little, unimportant opinion, Spanish does have a bit of an edge on English for being a ‘lingua franca’ or ‘world auxiliary’ language. As I stated above, Spanish is more complex than English. But, for learners (and I know, believe me!) sometimes a more complex grammar is less of a problem than a simpler structure that is laced with the cancer of irregularity and an abomination for a spelling system.

I’ll tell you what I think may happen in the future. As more and more people learn English as a ‘world auxiliary language,’ sooner or later, learners and teachers are going to realize just how ill-suited English is as a world language. Either it will be simplified, regularized, and phonetically spelled, or it will lose its status. Time is money. Learning a language is a major investment in time, effort, and money. Why spend years learning a language that is laced with time-wasting features when another language is quicker and easier to learn. Spanish is such a language as far as natural languages go. There are others as well, but Spanish has a large base and a great regulatory body to keep it fairly simple and streamlined to learn and use.

And for those of you who think that English has no chance of losing its world status, consider how many times the ‘lingua franca’ has changed over the centuries.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
So what do you think? Should Americans learn Spanish or be like most 3rd world countries and only speak one language?
Here is where I tend to pizz people off the most. I’m not sure why it’s so touchy, but it seems to be. As you read this, keep in mind I LOVE languages and study several--more than I have time for!

Okay, so ask yourself if the world were to decide on an auxiliary language where everyone spoke there own language, but they also learned a second language in order to communicate with foreigners, what would you want that language to be like (don’t say my own English--just pretend that English wasn’t a choice)?

Here is what I would consider to be desirable: ease of acquisition (rather than years, months), ease of use, reasonable ‘rules’ with no exceptions, spelling completely phonetic (each sound has ONE symbol to represent it). Does that sound like English to you? You are only comfortable with it because you know it. If you had to learn it, you would understand what wastes the most time when you learn a language.

What would not matter for a world auxiliary language? Well, I don’t think that any ‘cultural’ aspect would matter as it does with national/ethnic languages. A world language is for everyone and ease of use/acquisition should be paramount.

Is there a language that one can learn in months? (here is where many folks get all bent out of shape) Yes, there is. It is a language in which all of the most straightforward and simplest aspects have been taken from many languages and composed into one. All of the ‘crap’ has been eliminated. I hadn’t paid much attention to this language until lately. When I looked into it, I was literally blown away at its ease. I seriously was able to get an elementary knowledge of the ENTIRE grammar system in a matter of hours (rather than years). Everything is regular. Everything is spelled phonetically. There are no exceptions to any grammar patterns (which are very logical). Many words will sound familiar to an Indo-European language speaker. The number of dictionary entries are vastly reduced because nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc share common roots and are altered for their parts of speech. It’s a very powerful language. Now, I don’t speak this language yet, but I am absolutely confident that I could be fluent in a matter of few months, rather than years. It’s called Esperanto. And no matter how you feel about languages and culture and the relationship, you cannot argue that a language like this couldn’t be learned and used by nearly anyone in a fraction of the time it takes to learn other languages. THAT’S the kind of language we would use as a world language if we thought logically rather than emotionally. Oh... there are an estimated two million speakers worldwide. That’s the direction we should go with a world language--not to replace any language, but to allow everyone their native language and allow everyone to learn a world language which was completely pain free.
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Old 05-27-2009, 08:16 PM
 
6,229 posts, read 9,510,885 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Corinthians127 View Post
As an American I often ponder why we cringe at the idea of a second language, specifically Spanish. Why do we aboslutely refuse to learn a second language? Pride? Patriotism? Xenophobia? Lazy? What?

Lets take a look at Canada shall we? Canada has two official languages; English and French. I'm not 100% sure about this, but a majority of Canadians do not complain about it do they? It is only logical America should have another language and that language is the language of our neighbors, Spanish.

There are many countries that have multiple languages, official languages, and work together.

It is said it is not difficult to learn Spanish, according to the U.S.. English is said to be the most difficult.

The United States does not have an official language. Should a bill be passed claiming English and Spanish the official languages?

The benifits of Americans learning a second language are huge, not only will America catch up with the modern world but we could communicate with millions of other people (350 million).

With Spanish growing at a fast rate and Spanish already being the ?third? most spoken language in the world, it only makes sense. The amount of immigrants from Mexico and other Spanish speaking countries only speeds up the Spanish speaking population in America while leaving Americans that were born here unable to speak the second most common language. Infact most Immigrants that speak Spanish also speak English.

So what do you think? Should Americans learn Spanish or be like most 3rd world countries and only speak one language?
America doesn't have an official language because their are so many in use in the country. But I think instead of spanish and french being the top language courses offered in middle school and high schools, it should naturally be German! I'm not German, but I'm learning it. It's not as romantic as French or funny as Spanish but it's easier to me. And English derives from German and Latin so I think it should be required for English speakers in this country who do not speak a second language. It makes sense because it's easy to learn if English is your first language. In the future, German would be my forth. Because English is my first - Haitian Creole is my second - and French is gonna be the third really soon. I'm learning French and German back-to-back simultaneously. But technically I knew French before because I used to speak it when I lived in Canada back in the day. I lost it though. It gets confusing because I have to switch dialect so much.
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Old 05-27-2009, 09:47 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,538,289 times
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The actual reality is that most of the people in the developed world who are bilingual, have learned English as a second language, which Americans don't have to bother to do. Practically everybody in China, even the marginally educated, is bilingual, knowing Mandarin, Cantonese, and possibly their own minority language as well. Either French of English is an official language in nearly every country in Africa, and everyone knows that as well as their African language.

Bilingualism is so easy for the human mind to grasp, it is likely that at least half the population of the world can carry on a conversation in two or more languages---even illiterate people who can't do simple arithmetic are widely bilingual. I knew a girl in Holland whose family had lived in the Indies,, who was comfortably fluent in Dutch, German, English, French and Indonesian by the time she graduated from high school.

I was in Denmark the day RFK was shot, and the US Ambassador to Denmark made a statement on Danish TV---in English. The poor woman couldn't even rehearse and read from a script 60 seconds of prepared remarks in Danish. I was so embarrassed.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Victoria TX
42,668 posts, read 71,538,289 times
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There are about 2.5 billion people whose native language is English, Mandarin, Hindi, Spanish or Arabic. But the total number of speakers of those languages is over 5-billion. Even allowing for some multilingual overlap, the number of people who can speak at least one of those five languages is at least 2/3 of the world's population---about half of whom have learned it as a second language.
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Old 05-27-2009, 10:56 PM
 
Location: Tucson/Nogales
16,471 posts, read 20,002,503 times
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If I were a Canadian, why would I want to learn French? I would want to learn a language that would open more doors for me, a language I could get more miles out of. Like Spanish.

I have learned just enough Spanish to give me 20+ keys in my pocket and it has opened the doors of many a country throughout Latin America.

I also use it to shame those Spanish-speaking immigrants who have been here for longer than 5 years and can't speak any English. I'll open up a conversation with them just long enough to learn of their longevity in this country, and when I find out they've been here 5, 10 years and can hardly speak any English, I get out my "guns" and shoot away until their heads are hanging in shame. One more advantage of learning Spanish.

Americans have a reputation of being amongst the least adventuresome of world travelers, and learning a 2nd language is no different. Where's their sense of adventure, if nothing else? Maybe I lead a sheltered life, but there's not one of my relatives that speaks a 2nd language, or most of the co-workers or neighbors I've encountered over the years. Lazy, lazy, lazy!

I remember my 3 trips to China with little kids coming up to me to practise English. A bit annoying, but where in Latin America have I encountered that, from Mexico on down to Chile?

If you're going to learn a 2nd language, learn a language that will get you the most miles. French? Where could I use that? France and Quebec? German? How many German-speaking countries?
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Old 05-27-2009, 11:16 PM
 
Location: In a delirium
2,588 posts, read 4,850,900 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyc3 View Post
My question is : Why do some foreigners and immigrants refuse to learn our language? Why do we need to cater? It's nice to know more than one language...but I don't feel it needs to be a requirement...at all. There needs to be some common solidarity.
Many immigrants don't learn the language, because they have come later in life and have landed in an area where they have many people from their own country. I've met numerous people in this situation. Sometimes, these people come from horrible situations (i.e., refugees) and are just plain exhausted. In this instance, you just get as far as you get. But, these people's children do learn the language and do grow up in our culture. The first generation always has the hardest time adjusting - we, as a people, aren't very forgiving of those trying to learn our language.
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Old 05-28-2009, 03:11 AM
 
Location: Sitting on a bar stool. Guinness in hand.
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As a kid growing up in the south shore of Massachusetts there was no real need to learn another language. Yeah we had an option to learn another language in middle school (which is far to late to start in my opinion) but our day to day need for another language to get by was non-existent. And to be honest I feel if you really don't have an option to be immersed in another language day after day. Your really somewhat wasting your time trying to force yourself to learn another language.
That being said. Let me just say I now currently live just outside of NYC and thing have vastly changed in my linguistic surrounds. Any given day I can hear Spanish, Chinese, Portuguese, various African languages, polish, and whatever language the Filipino people speak. Add on top of that that my longterm girlfriend was born in Russia. Her and her mother speak English fairly well. But her father and grandparents.......well...........not so much. Plus on top of that any parties or get-togethers we go to are almost exclusively in Russian. A language I have tried to learn on and off over my time with my girlfriend. but have failed to grasp overall. Granted again I not immersed daily in the language and she don't force me to use Russian in the household.

Now. Here is something I noticed in this area and I think is important to the general population at large in America. While I really can see how someone that comes to this country could definitely get by without English in this area of the country. I find the people that bother to learn English tend to have more successful careers and lives here. I don't believe it has anything to do with xenophobia or patriotism or any plan against non-english speakers. It's more that the English language is the tie that binds us all together. Remember as I said earlier I hear a lot of different languages everyday. And for me and probably for anyone from any country that speaks any language to learn all the different languages I hear would be rather improbable, not impossible, but improbable. English really does bring us together and allows all of us to share ourselves and our thoughts and opinions here in this part of the country.

So in the end I think English, while not the official of America, is vital for all people to learn. And that learning other languages while a good idea, Is dependent on it's utility/or need of use in ones daily life. While people in TX, CA, NY, NJ, would profit from learning Spanish or Chinese or people in LA, ME, VT may benefit from learning French. People in WY, ND, SD and various other places may not have the utility for or not have the option to be immersed in another language for day to day use.

But that's just my thoughts.
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Old 05-28-2009, 04:26 AM
 
Location: Cold Frozen North
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I don't see why I would need to learn spanish. I've never come across a situation where it would have proved useful. Everyone I have routine contact with speaks fluent English - that's the way I like it.

That being said, I don't see why we need to cater to anyone that doesn't speak English. My grandparents came from Europe nearly 100 years ago and didn't know a word of English. They learned English and assimilated properly. The same requirements should go for everyone else coming to the US. English is the language of business in this country, like it or not. Besides, if I had any desire to learn a second language, it wouldn't be spanish anyway.
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