I don’t normally take a stand, but…

Wow.  This is offensive, even to me.

Maybe some of you saw this.  I really CAN feel sympathy with the points made, but the song has gone WAY too far.  I agree completely that if you immigrate, then part of your responsibility is to develop if not the language, at least a desire to learn it.  Thing is, I was embarrassed by way too many of these folk in Paris, showing up and saying Bawn-goor!  Really?  Learn the language, huh?  Oh wait, that’s only when you come to OUR town!

While I can appreciate her sentiments, that just ain’t cool.  (Some) Americans pollute the world with their desire to travel without ever learning the language, it’s an ironic statement that anyone else should HAVE to master English before entering.  Yes, a desire to learn might be mandatory, but in my experience, MOST Americans don’t really have a great handle on the English language, so why should the rest of the world aspire to be like that??

And, really, is pressing a button become that much work???


15 Responses to “I don’t normally take a stand, but…”

  1. dawnmarie Says:

    I don’t think to visit a country, you should have to learn the language, that seems like a lot of time for a week or two visit. But you should have the understanding that you’re going to have problems. And I, personally, love learning languages and I do it well, and pretty simply, but I’m going to Italy in a couple months, and I’m not learning the language before I go. I don’t think I should be expected to. If I were moving there, I’d go to the effort and expense of learning the language. But to visit? I don’t expect visitors here to learn English either.

  2. Sarah Says:

    i think the the point is that it’s a giant hypocrtitical double standard. and i agree wholeheartedly. we expect everyone to conform to the great american way, but we are somehow exempt from having to exert the minimum of effort when we’re outside the borders of this country. it’s just another example of how self-centered we are as a nation. it’s embarrassing, really.

  3. QueenieCarly Says:

    Thanks, Sarah. Again, I knew you’d understand.

    And Dawn, like I said to you in an email, learning the language is ambitious if you’re going for a week or two, but not learning to say the basics is ignorant. That was my point exactly. A lot of people don’t even go that far.

  4. Sarah Says:

    p.s. the united states doesn’t have an official language.

  5. Evey Says:

    If you lived in my neigborhood you might just understand the sentiment of wanting immigrants to learn English. Most americans don’t have a handle on the english language? and canadians do? lol. thats funny.

  6. Kristin Says:

    I think someone did already mention that the U.S. does not have an official language and that is true. I DO believe that if you are going to immigrate to a country you should learn the language of the people though. To travel, I think that is an unfair expectation. And I know that there is a general dislike for Americans nowadays but we certainly aren’t the only people who travel and still speak their home language. I was surprised by the anti-American sentiment when I was visiting Canada. Everyone likes to think of us as rude. But you find that everywhere, in every culture. People, no matter where you come from, have opinions and you are going to find some wacky ones.

  7. Nathan Pralle Says:

    You’re absolutely correct when you say they have gone too far with this song. The *idea* behind it is fairly solid, the fact that you shouldn’t be a prick and if you immigrate to another country, you should expect to have to learn the dominant language or expect to encounter a bunch of problems — don’t expect them to change for you.

    That being said, many aspects of the song are wrong. You shouldn’t expect all signs to be in English. If there are signs in Spanish, then they are clearly there to market to the Spanish-speaking community. If you can’t read them, YOU WEREN’T MEANT TO. No important signs are in Spanish (road signs, for instance) so that’s not a legitimate bitch. If they were expecting you to learn Spanish to drive on the roads, then you might have some complaint.

    Making English the official language won’t do any good, either. All that does is ensure that the government only has to print things in English and means that they don’t have to provide interpretation if they don’t want to. That’s about it. It will NOT remove foreign-language stores, billboards, etc. as that is all free market.

    The last point I have is that the people who typically jump onto the “only English” bandwagon tend to be the ones who are also yelling about “no gays”, “white power”, and “Christian Nation”. Their vehemence is expressed in terms of their conservative ignorance, not as intelligent dialogue. For this reason, I tend to ignore such pleas as I know they are tainted by morons.

    However — the point is out there, and I can’t fault the idea of urging immigrants to learn enough of the dominant language so as to not overburden the rest of the country insomuch as we have to interact with them. If they choose to speak it at home, cultural stores, etc…fine, no problems. But please learn it if you are a public servant, need to access public services, or interact with the general populace on a daily basis.

  8. Kristin Says:

    I love how “white power” and Christians are lumped together there. And that conservatives as a whole are ignorant and moronic. Interesting.

  9. emjaydex Says:

    I had a woman go off at me at work today because the back of all of our DuPont Teflon Tire Sprays were written in Spanish. She started freaking out about immigration and stolen social security numbers. She’s probably writing the DuPont company right now…she said she was going to. Really? How retarded do you have to be to be baffled by Tire Spray. The instructions are pretty much in the title.

  10. QueenieCarly Says:

    I didn’t realize that the US did not have an official language. That’s interesting.

    For the record, and to avoid further confusion, when I refer to Americans, I generally mean North Americans. If I am speaking specifically about Canadians, I tend to make that clear. As it stands, I don’t see a big difference as you cross the border. Just wanted to clarify.

    This topic has been on my mind all day. I’ve been contemplating the video, my feelings about it and the great arguments you guys have presented here. Thanks for your thoughtful opinions.

  11. QueenieCarly Says:

    And Mike, that is really bizarre. I fail to see the relation between tire spray, immigration and stolen social security numbers, but I’m guessing you’re in the dark too. What a weird day at work.

  12. Kristin Says:

    Thanks for clarifying that. I guess I have been sensitive to the “down with Americans” attitude as of late and find it offensive. I agree with you that I don’t see alot of difference between the Canadian and American culture.

  13. C~ Says:

    It’s so weird to me that you took this so personally. I didn’t mean it for visitors to the US. Or for travelers at all. Surely the folks in the video did not, either.

    It’s about the people who come here…to live…illegally…and then insist we change everything to accommodate them. It’s not about pressing a button. It’s about the expectation that we should change everything for people who don’t respect our laws or borders. It used to be…back when we actually followed immigration laws, like Canada does…that immigrants were expected to follow rules to be accepted into our country to live. They had to take English language courses. They were expected to apply for citizenship within a certain time frame or go back to their country of origin.

    I remember lots of kids when I was in grade school in Southern California who were from all over the world. They were all in the same class we were…learning English as we went. No teachers in 6 different languages. By the end of the year they were talking and laughing and learning right along side the rest of us. Some of them went home and taught English to their parents, who were proud to learn the language of their new country.

    Anyhow. Sorry to be so long-winded. I totally agree that learning another language is a wonderful thing. I am not sure you need to learn a whole new language to travel, but when I visited Quebec a few years back they did very little to help you unless you spoke French. I have rarely seen that here in the US.

  14. QueenieCarly Says:

    You illustrate my point exactly, Cyndi. You went to visit a place that clearly has one official language: French. And you noted that “they did very little to help you.” So, when you bless them with your presence, they should be gracious and make sure to accommodate you, but if they want to come to the US, well then, learn the language. And yes, travel and immigration are different, but in my mind, they are not so much so that they can’t be compared.

    One difference I have noticed is that Americans seem to be much more sensitive to this subject, to have far more passionate views. Mabye it does have something to do with not having an official language. down there, while we all grew up in a biligual nation here. I don’t know the answers, but I’ve found this debate really rather interesting.

  15. Mark Says:

    I strongly agree with this video. I don’t think it’s going too far at all. And I think it should be pointed out that it’s not about travelers to America, it’s about them coming here and STAYING here. (And don’t get me started on illegal immigrants thinking they have rights. 😉 )

    America used to be known as the “Great American Melting Pot”, which meant that people would come here and conform. Not that immigrants had to lose their identity. Far from it. Rather, they were to blend in to meet the country’s way of life — not the other way around. Sure you can have your “Chinatown” in America or whatever, but to expect us to bend to their ways on a national scale is not right and only serves to cause Americans to lose their identity. So it’s all right for us to lose that, but preserve their’s?

    I agree with some of the comments made here that some countries view Americans as rude and self-centered when traveling abroad. Not ALL Americans are that way of course, and there are those of us who are embarrassed (myself included) by our countrymen who do that. But that’s not what this video is about. If I come into your home, should I not abide by your rules? That’s fair, right?

    And isn’t it contradictory to say on the one hand that it’s impolite of Americans to expect other countries to speak English when they visit abroad, and on the other hand to chastise them if they don’t speak the language of visitors to America?

    It was said here that signs in another language are not meant for me. Well, as an English-speaking American, of course they’re not meant for me, but I think that person is missing the point. Where does it end: Chinese? Russian? French? Is America supposed to accommodate all languages? Of course not. And for people who say Americans are rude, I think it’s rude of them (American or not) to expect otherwise.

    Has the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” been forgotten?

    Nonetheless, this is a good post and I think I may be posting about it on my blog as I have on other occasions and will definitely include this video. Thanks for your time! 🙂

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