Throughout my youth (and I say that as a 26 year-old), I’ve always had a deep appreciation for diversity, and particularly when it came to languages. My mother was a flight attendant for PanAm, so she spoke 4 languages. Our house-keeper spoke primarily Spanish, so I learned a lot of vocabulary early on. Fast forward to my later years, where I took Spanish for all 3 years of middle school, 4 years of high school, and almost minored in it during my college days (had to drop it…was killing my GPA). I was really lucky to get this much exposure, and living in Los Angeles, use my Spanish frequently.
That said, I’m really struggling to find a good compromise with the different factions that weigh in on the debate over language in America. I firmly believe that we, as a nation, are spending too much time and too many resources accomodating those who don’t speak the dominant language in the country, but on the other side, I have witnessed so many acts of sheer xenophobia and unbelivable levels of close-mindedness by those who push the “English First/Only” campaigns.
Lately, I’ve been thinking about the issue of language. I’m a member of a frequent flyer web community/bullitan board, and there is one member who has a signature that says “When in Rome, do as the Romans. When in America, speak English!”. Last year, a county initiative in the County of San Bernardino (a suburb of Los Angeles) was proposed that would have legally prohibited the County from issuing any form or paperwork that would transact business in ANY language other than English.
So my question is this: what is the best balance between “English Only” and a genuine attempt to educate our populace in other cultures and languages? Why do people take pride in NOT being able to grasp another language and maintain that level of ignorance? I swear, if I have to hear that fat idiot loudmouth Rush Limbaugh butcher Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s name one more time, I swear I’m going to throw my radio into the wall. And people actually respect this guy? Please.