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Assimilated into the collective

This morning's Boston Globe has a terrifying story -- it's how the children of immigrants are rejecting their parents and their culture and -- horror of horrors! -- speaking ENGLISH.

The Globe article trots out a veritable plethora of excuses reasons why we should worry about young people learning and preferring English, and speaks glowingly of those who resist the sirens' call of American pop culture, holding fast to their native language, customs, and whatnot.

Underlying all this is the unspoken prejudice, the bigotry at the root of all these arguments: that there is nothing innately worthy about America, little praiseworthy of American culture, American language, American beliefs. That people should preserve their ancestral tongues and ways in the face of the unending onslaught of the crass, base, vulgar American way of life.

Here's a hint to the Boston Globe: English is the de facto national language. And while speaking a second language is laudable (a skill I sadly lack), a fluency in spoken and written language is essential for success in America.

And America has little to apologize for, and we should defer to no one or no other nation in pride of our nation and our heritage. It's a long-standing tradition that the United States flag -- at least within the United States -- takes second place to no other flag, and it is something we should apply that same pride to our own conduct.

America is not perfect. There is a great deal that we don't do as well as others, and we should freely acknowledge that.

But one element of American culture is that when we see something we admire in another culture, we adapt it. We assimilate it. We take it and make it our own. We steal it, if you like.

Other nations can take pride in their ethnic and cultural purity. (Hell, the French even have a whole government bureaucracy set up just for that purpose.) We Americans are mutts, of questionable heritage and parentage, and cheerfully embrace that. We have taken the best (and worst) of all people, all cultures, and built that into the wealthiest, most powerful nation the world has ever seen.

So, if a bunch of kids have decided that they would rather speak English than Spanish, if they believe that their future lies not in a "bilingual" (which often translates into "non-English") education and world, then perhaps they're a bit smarter than the Boston Globe.

Hell, they probably are. They haven't been educated and inculcated and indoctrinated as thoroughly as the Globe's staff of politically-correct twits. They haven't spent years insulated from the real world, aloft in their ivory towers.

I'd say any one of those Lawrence kids are worth at least a dozen Boston Globe staffers.


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Comments (24)

Someone should also tell th... (Below threshold)

Someone should also tell the Boston Globe that English is the de facto international language of business as well.

Jay, I met a guy in Vegas last week. He had a fairly common first and last name, his initials were J. T., and he was from New Hampshire.

I didn't, by chance, meet you, did I?

I was in Maryland last week... (Below threshold)

I was in Maryland last weekend, Reality Check... and have photos to prove it. I've never been to Vegas, and if I had been there, I would have posted pictures of showgirls with Mr. Duckie.

Sorry to disappoint you.

J.

Reality Check: You broke th... (Below threshold)
WildWillie:

Reality Check: You broke the only rule of Vegas. What happens there stays there. On a public forum you thought you met JT, even if that happened, it didn't happen.;)

Now if only what happens in Boston, stays in Boston, that would be great. ww

I'm sure German speakers an... (Below threshold)
Dirk:

I'm sure German speakers and Yiddish speakers and Russian speakers felt the same way 100 years ago. But most of them were too busy trying to get out of poverty to whine about it.

Heh. By the way, the other... (Below threshold)

Heh. By the way, the other 'J. T.' from New Hampshire was really cool, too. He introduced himself, said where he was from, and announced "Live Free or Die!".

Made me think of you.

Could have been my Evil Twi... (Below threshold)

Could have been my Evil Twin...

Of course, he insists that I'm the evil one.

Don't believe him.

You can trust me.

Really.

J.

Lingua Franca du monde.<br ... (Below threshold)
kim:

Lingua Franca du monde.
=======

Other nations can take p... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Other nations can take pride in their ethnic and cultural purity. (Hell, the French even have a whole government bureaucracy set up just for that purpose.) We Americans are mutts, of questionable heritage and parentage, and cheerfully embrace that. We have taken the best (and worst) of all people, all cultures, and built that into the wealthiest, most powerful nation the world has ever seen.

I believe in botany and animal breeding it's known as Heterosis, or hybrid vigor. We've had a lot of people pour a lot of ideas into the mix, and the good ones succeed while (mostly) the bad ones fail. Bilingual education, while a 'nice' idea, is one of those that should have been modified into "We'll teach you bilingually until you are adequate in English, then we'll transition you to English only".

That's a good analogy, JLaw... (Below threshold)

That's a good analogy, JLawson. Purebred animals have all manner of health issues that are passed from one generation to the next as a result of trying to keep the breed pure. Nothing new or different is introduced to correct it. It's purity for the sake of pureness only.

As a Teacher and parent in ... (Below threshold)
nogo war:

As a Teacher and parent in Denver..I agree with Lawson...
Back in the first years of Bi-L we purposely placed our daughter in a Bi class actually believing she would learn a second language..Spanish...well the class was a joke and disappointment and we transferred her at semester..15 years down the road I will start another year as a grade school sub...
I have by necessity, acquired adequate Spanish skills...I talk to the kids saying English is like a secret code...but if you want to understand what is going on around you ...learn it...
If Denver wanted to make a difference there would be more FREE English classes for the parents at each school.. by not doing so they hinder the growth of the kids acquiring the skills...thus perpetuating the district's need to continue a costly and failing Bi-L program...
If there is a math program that year after year teaches 2+2=5...at some time...after repeated failure to reach the correct answer...it must be replaced by one where 2=2=4....

So if new arrivals don't le... (Below threshold)
Wethal:

So if new arrivals don't learn English, where is the Boston Globe, given its plunging circulation numbers, going to get the future readers it needs to survive?

Just wondering...

The very fact that our publ... (Below threshold)

The very fact that our public schools even offer to teach students in their native language points to the generosity inherent within American culture. If you go to Mexico and ask for the "bilingual" class so your kids could be taught in English, you're answer will be, "¿Qué?"

Oyster -My folks h... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Oyster -

My folks had two tiny pocket poodles, and those little critters were bedeviled with all sorts of problems with their legs. We also had one mutt, who never had any systemic health problems.

As an aside, it's funny how a lot of folks tend to scoff at the idea of evolution but don't seem to understand that selective breeding is the same as evolutionary selection for certain specific traits. Horses, plants, cats, dogs, pet fish - all are examples of how evolution can vary a base genome.

Nogo War -

Bureaucracy is more about maintenance of the bureaucracy than actually producing a good product for those it oversees. A failing bilingual program is usually evaluated by people who have more to gain by enlarging their little kingdoms than making the program run efficiently - and that simply means that more money must be thrown at it, requiring extra layers of personnel to administer it, and thereby increasing the number of people supervised...

It's a vicious cycle that does no one any good.

Sorry, but I see both sides... (Below threshold)

Sorry, but I see both sides of this story. I absolutely applaud those kids for choosing to speak the de facto language of their adopted country, but by NOT learning their parents' languages they are missing great opportunities. From the article:

"Generations of immigrants have seen their languages fade, but Rumbaut said the cost is higher now as businesses expand overseas, the United States is more diverse, and national security agencies are clamoring for people who speak foreign languages. The children themselves are losing a skill that could give them an edge in the job market."

It's not just "national security agencies" clamoring for foreign language speakers. Here in California many foreign languages are in demand by all manner of businesses. There are simply more job opportunities, opportunities for advancement, and often additional pay for those with multiple language skills.

My grandparents on my mother's side spoke fluent German but did not teach their children as they wanted them to assimilate smoothly. I don't fault their decision, but many of us, their descendants, wish that we had learned that language as children, when learning languages is easier. It's an uphill battle for adults.

So, the Boston Globe is adm... (Below threshold)
Dusty:

So, the Boston Globe is admitting that children rebelling against parents can be a revolting revelation and now wants to discuss the occasions which revolt.

This looks like progress to me.

Funny thing, though - as mo... (Below threshold)
JLawson:

Funny thing, though - as more and more of the immigrants' kids learn and prefer English, there will be less need for those with multiple language skills. It'll take a generation or three, though...

As far as multiple language skills goes - there's actually an advantage to a standardized language across a number of cultures. International aviation would be a good demonstration of that - the defacto standard is English because the majority of pilots speak it, therefore the ATC agencies in various countries have to be able to understand it. I don't know about the worldwide financial markets, but it would seem to me that like the dollar, English would be a standard there.

One drawback to a multiply-multilingual country would seem to be a lack of cohesion in the society - everyone slipping into their own little enclaves where the language and culture are what it was in the home country. This tends to reinforce the worst things (FGM, as an example) and limit exposure to new ideas. I think it's a lot better to open up than close down, and a lot of bilingual education programs (as NoGo pointed out) seem to close out opportunity rather than open it up.

When my grandparents came h... (Below threshold)
Gianni:

When my grandparents came here from Italy, they settled into an all Italian neighborhood, and the only place something other than Italian was spoken was at Mass, where they spoke Latin. .

Both of my grandparents were uneducated, but they were both intelligent enough to realize that their kids NEEDED to speak English to help them succeed in life.

My uncle and my Mom were the oldest kids, so their responsibility was to learn English in school, and then start to teach it to the younger kids, before they went to school.

My grandmother learned to speak and write English as my mom and uncle taught the younger kids. Sure, there was immense pride in who and what they were, but my grandparents knew not speaking English would limit opportunities for their kids.

Todays immigrants need to help themselves. The press 1 for English crap is actually racist and restrictive, since I dont know if there is a press 2 for Chinese, press 3 for Frnch, etc.

What happens if a Latino illegal has a major medical probem, and cant communicate that to a paramedic? What then, Breck Boy will channel the dead, and say the paramedics need to learn every possible language?

What happens if a latino illegal is driving an uninspected car behind you, and cant read the warning of a of a traffic jam ahead, and rams into you from behind, sorry Barney Frank, I mean rams into your vehicle from behind?

Anyone that doesnt see the NEED to make Engish THE national language just doesnt get it, and I surely hope that their family and friends are never endangered because of a communications gap.

Wonder if we'll soon have a choice of 57 languages to choose from when calling a govt office.

It was very refreshing to g... (Below threshold)

It was very refreshing to go into the passport office recently and the woman behind the desk came forward and said in no uncertain terms, "We speak English in this office. If you do not speak English, you must provide your own translator. Thank you very much."

I had to giggle a bit because anyone who didn't speak English wouldn't have understood her, so her whole speech was for the benefit of those who did.

Someone should also tell... (Below threshold)
_Mike_:

Someone should also tell the Boston Globe that English is the de facto international language of business as well.

Ah yes, but as a trivia question... Who knows what is the official language of international bureaucracy ? (yes, there is such an official language)

Time to make ENGLISH our of... (Below threshold)
spurwing plover:

Time to make ENGLISH our official laungue and end this bilingiual poppycock and stop this NORTH AMERICAN UNION

Bilingual education origina... (Below threshold)
DCE:

Bilingual education originally started in California and spread throughout the school systems there. It was an effin' disaster. Only a few years ago they did away with it, just as they've done away with affirmative action, seeing it as nothing more than institutionalized racism.

At least California has done something right, if not a little late.

_Mike_ -- French isn't it?... (Below threshold)

_Mike_ -- French isn't it?

Though I think they'd quibb... (Below threshold)

Though I think they'd quibble and say it's the language of diplomacy rather than bureaucracy.

Maybe it's just me, but I s... (Below threshold)
Billll Author Profile Page:

Maybe it's just me, but I see the Globs discouragement of English among immigrants as a subtle way of keeping them down.
"Preserve your proud cultural heritage, and stay on your own side of the tracks."
Right.




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