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Speaking English - Page 2

post #31 of 73
Just dropped in on this thread to see what the debate was about. I am English and live in Spain,so thought it would be interesting to see what was being said, this being a site about cats and all.
Wow certainly some strong views out there, and some hot-buttons being pushed ! Dont think I´ll comment, most points covered in full and from every angle !
post #32 of 73
Please do not look down on people who are not fluent in English until you have tried to become totally natively fluent in another language. If you were not born in America or another country where you grew up speaking a language fluently before the age of ten, it is VERY difficult to become totally fluent in another langugae. I have studied eight years of Spanish and I am not fluent. The people you see whose children are translating for them may be trying to learn English but feel more comfortable having their child who is fluent translate for them.

When Spanish becomes a majority language (and it will, in some places, unless very very drastic changes happen very quickly) it should work the same way French and English do in Quebec. However, it won't. With the majority of voter's attitudes -- remember, illegal immigrants can't vote even if they would be the majority-- being that everything should be in English and we have no obligation whatsoever to help non-speakers try to even understand roadsigns, it doesn't matter whether the majority of the population speaks Spanish or not. There is also a lot of racism involved in that, in some cases.

Polyglot- I guess your views shouldn't be surprising what with your username and all...
post #33 of 73
You have a quick mind!

I have just returned from doing a litrle research and a little math. From looking at the census from 2000 and the census from 1990, I found a very large change between the two years. In 1990 in Texas there were 4,339,905 Hispanics. In 2000 there were 7,772,389. It seems obvious to me, more so than before, that by the next census it will be the majority language there.

I will make two assumptions, and the first is that California will probably have followed approximately the same pattern. Secondly, New Mexico, having had already a greater proportion when compared to those two, I estimate has already passed the majority line.
post #34 of 73
Well, I am a linguistics major...

And I can offer an outsider's view on around Corpus Christi, Texas, as well as Arizona and New Mexico... In Texas, the hispanic culture and the anglo culture are completely separate things. The same is true to a lesser degree in AZ and NM, from what I could see the two cultures were blending a little bit better and there seemed to be less animosity. But in Texas a lot of places you couldn't tell there are anybody but anglos living in texas, and then you saw a lot of very poor places that were entirely hispanic (I'm assuming Mexican since I could have walked to the border from where I was...) It may be different in the cities, but in rural Southern Texas there were two texases. And I think that attitude will continue.

It is never the "majority" who automatically holds sway, and it is never the numbers, especially with language. It is the dominant culture's language which does, and that will continue to be English in America for quite a while, hopefully with accomodations made for Spanish-speakers. If you need evidence that this is true, look at the history of English. For a long time, English was a majority language but French was the dominant one. It was a reverse situation, with French being the invasive language, but similar in numbers. It's a bit of a miracle that English survived at all, really, even though it was the majority tongue. People choose the language that offers them what they want. In America, English offers more socioeconomic advantages than Spanish, while Spanish offers more heritage and identity... but socioeconomic pressure nearly always wins.
post #35 of 73
Thread Starter 
Just a thought. I'm beginning to wonder if spanish is the most spoken language in the world. The entire continent of SA speaks spanish in one form or another. And then there's Spain itself. I wonder what the three most popular languages are. I would think chinese is a contender.
post #36 of 73
It depends on whether you consider all Chinese spoken to be different languages or if you think they are dialects. I think they're different languages, as they are not all mutually intelligible.
gives a list.
You have to remember population density, not just land mass. Also, Brazilians mostly speak Portuguese, and that is the largest country in South America. Also Belize is mostly Portuguese, though that is a small country. There are also dozens if not hundreds of indigenous languages in SA and also much of it is very sparsely populated. It is still #4 in the list, as Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world (usually second after Tokyo). When looking at the list, remember than most of the "European" languages on it are actually spoken more (by numbers) by people who do not live in Europe, such as Spanish, French (Africa and the Caribbean), English, etc. Pretty soon the majority of English speakers are not going to live in places we think of as English-speaking (UK, US, Australia, NZ, etc) but rather colonies and economic strongholds.
post #37 of 73
You make a good point, that majority does not neccessarily hold the power. What about New Mexico, though? I think it has done very well with assimilation, better than Texas.
post #38 of 73
remember, illegal immigrants can't vote even if they would be the majority
As it should be in my opinion. If you want to vote then become a legal citizen.

Now I'm not so much looking down on people who can't speak English, and if they are trying to learn then wtg! But, while learning a language can be hard it is not impossible.
post #39 of 73
Thread Starter 
I can see the Spanish migration as antidote for pending US economic collapse. As the US tries to compete in a global economy jobs are leaving the counrty faster than fast. It's so much cheaper to have something manufactured in China or India. The problem is the american workers annual earnings are probably ten times that of a worker in India. To squelch the alarming rate of outsourcing the govenment allows millions of prospective workers to enter the country that will do "the jobs that nobody wants" for much less. This the first step in equalizing. The writing is on the wall when you see in the last few years the teardown of unions and the stripping away of pensions and near collapse of US corprate giants. At the stroke of the pen these people will become US citizens and all of their imediate family will be able to migrate here as well. It's something that has to be done for this country to be able to compete on a global scale. The borders are left open for a reason. IMO
post #40 of 73
We recently had a very lengthy discussion on immigration, and I'd rather not get into that. Every point that was possibly made has been made on actual immigration, and we're getting off topic.

Programs that let people still use Spanish while they learn English do not hinder learning, actually they help it. If we isolate Limited-English-Proficient people from English-speaking society totally, they will and do stay isolated. However, making accomodations such as translations and such helps them both become a part of mainstream society and learn English at the same time.
post #41 of 73
It is sickening how those people could just get amnesty when the average Asian needs to wait 13 years and spend $30,000 to get a citizenship.
post #42 of 73
Thread Starter 
I do agree that the immagration idea is a bit off topic. I dont understand why some borders are controlled while others are not. But I do know that migration will help the US in the long run. But if we look at the big picture learning spanish would be a great asset. I wish I could speak it. If I could I'd probably run off to the Canary Islands and survive the rest of my life sampling Tapas Bars.
post #43 of 73
Originally Posted by Sirha
As it should be in my opinion. If you want to vote then become a legal citizen.
The majority of the latinos here are not illegal. The majority are legal and pay taxes. Thus, that has no bearing. Legal Spanish-speakers will be a majority.

What made you think that most of them were illegal?
post #44 of 73
Actually, illegal immigrants fall under the "foreign-born" category of the census. http://ask.census.gov/cgi-bin/askcen...i=&p_topview=1
The point of the census is to see who is here and where they are etc, and it is not just legal citizens.
And most new immigrants are illegal, since the number of immigrants coming from certain countries far exceeds the quota.

Here are the general laws about legal immigration:

So if your figures about the hispanic population in some states are correct, then it is absolutely impossible that the majority of new, first-generation immigrants are legal. THe majority of hispanics, the majority of spanish-speakers, yes, but not the majority of immigrants.
post #45 of 73
In taking of the Latinos, the majority are not illegal. I don't count by how recently they are here.

You are right about the census, I was thinking of another survey.

But anyway, if Bush manages to pass his Only Good Idea Ever (my name for the guest worker program), there will indeed be many more citizens that speak Spanish.
post #46 of 73
No, someone was saying that illegal immagrants cant vote, and I was just saying that I agree that they shouldnt/
post #47 of 73
Originally Posted by Polyglot
But anyway, if Bush manages to pass his Only Good Idea Ever (my name for the guest worker program), there will indeed be many more citizens that speak Spanish.
The first act he passed before 911, the No Child Left Behind Act, was brilliant.

Bush is unfortunately caught between a rock and a hard wall.
post #48 of 73
I think that if that bill had had any truly helpful effects we would have seen them.

It will be interesting to see whether or not this program passes.
post #49 of 73
Originally Posted by Polyglot
I think that if that bill had had any truly helpful effects we would have seen them.
My students are more brilliant every year. Every year I get a better crop of kids.
post #50 of 73
The No Child Left Behind act is one of the worst laws ever passed, and definitely the worst one relating to the American school system. By far, it is a huge mistake and is turning our schools into testing factories. We may be getting smarter, but at the college level you have not even seen the products of the No Child Left Behind act yet. The kids who started out with these laws in elementary school are not in college yet, and when they are, you will see that it basically has ruined free thought and curriculum outside of rote memorization. Because that's what it's designed to do-- make everyone test well so that we look good while learning less and less and less every year. It's a farce designed to cover up problems with poorer school districts.

And it doesn't help kids who don't speak English very well either. And Bush has backtracked on his idea about immigrants since he didn't recieve much support from the people holding his pursestrings.
post #51 of 73
Well, looks like English will soon be our national language.
post #52 of 73
What do you mean? I thought English was already our national language.

English is definitely easier to learn than Spanish. I tried learning both and you have no idea how many tenses in verbs they have. Spanish is complicated.
post #53 of 73
America has no declared language whatsoever. Neither does England, although the legal system works more on precedent than ours (no official constitution the way we have either) and it wouldn't be hard to argue that they really do it's just not in law.

We however most certainly do not. We soon will though. Many states and cities have been declaring Official English status. And soon so will Congress. It is more of a symbolic gesture than anything (it won't limit the use of other languages) but it opens the door for interpretation of English's role as our official language. Does it mean official business may only be conducted in English? This is not explicit. But you can see where it's going.
post #54 of 73
Originally Posted by shengmei
What do you mean? I thought English was already our national language.

English is definitely easier to learn than Spanish. I tried learning both and you have no idea how many tenses in verbs they have. Spanish is complicated.

Techniquely......English is actually the most difficult language to learn.

Believe it or not, the reason english is easier for most Americans is because we were raised speaking it.

Though I think that making things bilingual just for the....well I think that English should be the national language.....just for simplicity. Thats my honest opinion.
post #55 of 73
Originally Posted by ButterflyDream
Though I think that making things bilingual just for the....well I think that English should be the national language.....just for simplicity. Thats my honest opinion.
I agree. There are thousands of languages in the world. We cannot possibly print documents and get translators for every single language that someone could concievably speak. So people need to learn English. We've got to agree on one language for feasability.
post #56 of 73
Exactly, at my daughter's initial kindergarden we'd get bilingual newsletters for parents, which was a pain and would result in twice the paperwork coming home........And like all the signs everywhere are bilingual....

It's a very controversial subject but at the same time, a good majority of American's speak English anyways...I mean they can keep their language and use it at home but for regular things I think we should all generally speak and read in the same language....that was wordy wasn't it.
post #57 of 73
But we already did, and now we are reversing that. Driver's Liscense exams are available in Ohio in more than 200 languages. English-Only laws take that away...
The debate is not really whether we should spend the effort required to change how we do things to accomodate immigrants, it's whether we should undo what we've already done. Nobody is asking you to learn Spanish to accomodate them. And also, the papers being sent home with your child from school, remember that other parents cannot read in English and would have absolutely no way to communicate with the school if they did not do these things. The children are learning English, right? We cannot expect people to arrive here already knowing English.

In Alaska, they passed an English-Only law which was later overturned, in part because many of the people in Alaska spoke native languages. Local officials and teachers were often bilingual in these languages and suddenly could not communicate at all with the students' parents. The officials, who had run their election campaigns bilingually, could no longer communicate with their constituents.

We are in no way talking only about illegal Hispanic immigrants when we say everything should be in English, which is often forgotten. There are millions of legal immigrants here from all over the world. In Ohio the second highest number of immigrants are from subsaharan Africa. There are also many many many people here who speak native languages. English-Only laws also take away their right to speak that language, which is why they were overturned in Arizona as restricting freedom of speech.
post #58 of 73
Speaking as a legal immigrant, I would like to point out that most legal immigrants actually learn English quickly and swiftly.
post #59 of 73
Many educated immigrants who may have already learned some English do a great job of learning it.

Not everyone is as smart or as apt at learning languages/English as you. And many immigrants are illiterate in their home language, making it doubly difficult to learn a new one.

Also, some of our policies have isolated certain groups of immigrants, making it more difficult for them to assimilate if they wish to.
post #60 of 73
Thank you very much for the compliment. I really appreciate it.

I'll have to say it might not be true, however, since I failed all of my English classes in Taiwan. My high school English teacher actually had a meeting with my parents and I stating that if I don't learn fast enough, I'll never be able to survive in the U.S. I also did poorly in Chinese. It was a really difficult time in my life and I failed almost everything, including art and P.E., which nobody was supposed to fail....

I know it sounds very cliche, but coming to America changed my life. All the people who were born and bred in the U.S. were nice to me and the only chick I had trouble with was from Mexico......which might prejudice me against illegal immigrants. I mean, she could have killed me......it is very difficult for me to be not biased towards illegal Mexican immigrants afterwards.
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