September 2004
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Please Speak English

Warning: Possibly Controversial

Assimilate: 2a: to make similar

Abrogate: 1 : to abolish by authoritative action : ANNUL
2 : to treat as nonexistent
synonym see NULLIFY

First, I am not a xenophobe.

If you are going to choose to live in the United States, please learn to speak English.

I have a problem with people coming to live in this country and not bothering to learn the language. I have a problem with people expecting me to learn their language in my country.

As you can see from the above referenced links, assimilate doesn’t mean abrogate. Learning my language in my country doesn’t mean that you can’t speak your language anymore.

If I were to choose to live in your home country, I would be expected to learn the language.

A friend of mine, who just took his citizenship oath in August (Congrats!) is from Germany. He once said to me, “I call the 800 number and they say ‘Press 1 for English, 2 for Spanish’, where is the ‘Press 3 for German?’”

I lived in Germany for a year and a half. I learned enough German to get along, to be able to ask what something was; how much did it cost; where was the bathroom, etc. I heard some Americans ask if the shopkeeper spoke English and some would say no even if they did because of the “arrogant Americans who think everyone, everywhere should speak English.” Mostly, I found that if I tried to speak German, they would reply in English, because I tried.

I took French in high school, and still remember enough to get along there too. I can puzzle out some Spanish and Italian because of their relationship to French.

I can also sing the “Head and Shoulders, Knees and Toes” song in Japanese courtesy of Shari Lewis and Lambchop.

I was in Montreal once and a Scottish couple stopped a girl on the street to ask where the shopping district was. I don’t know if she was a francophone or just didn’t understand their accent, but she looked confused and couldn’t answer. I told the couple to go down three blocks and turn left, they would be in the shopping district. The Scottish woman said to me, “Thank you dear. You speak English very well.” I said, “Thanks. But I’m American”.

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0 Responses to Please Speak English

  • I know I am way late on musing but I’d just like to say thank you. I work in retail and I live in an area where I need to learn a new language every day. It’s rediculous. Why am I held to these state standards (4 years of english,3 years of math, 3 years of science etc) when others can just waltz into MY country and not even make an effort to learn MY language?

mm-5
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