Mistaken for Latino? Sept 15, 2007 12:25:13 GMT -5
Post by jefe on Sept 15, 2007 12:25:13 GMT -5
I, for one, would NEVER go to a foreign country and expect others to speak my native language, no matter what it may be. If I visited France, I would not assume that the local population should cater to me by speaking english even though Britain is just a quick chunnel ride away.
You hit the point. Spanish has never a foreign language in the USA at least for the past 460 years. In fact, it is de facto co-official in New Mexico. Should people expect all persons to speak Spanish in New Mexico as it is used in government documents and has been spoken there since the 16th century?
When I go to the USA, I never expect everyone to speak English, I don't expect everyone to speak Spanish, I don't expect everyone to speak French or Chinese or Tagalog, even though these are the top 5 languages spoken in the USA, and those are exactly the 5 languages that I learned to communicate at least on a basic level because those are currently the most widely spoken languages in the USA.
May I ask you, pray tell, how should people approach a place like Singapore or Malaysia? The typical approach is to start out in one language, and hopefully within seconds identify a common language. I sometimes guess and try English or Mandarin or Cantonese. Sometimes people speak excellent English, but some speak Malay -- or understand English, but reply in Malay. I am not offended -- usually understand most of what they said and reply in a mixed Malay / English sentence and they are not offended. I have had people talk to me in Hokkien, and although I understood the question, I don't know how to answer them back properly, so I ask them if they can speak English, Mandarin or Cantonese.
I see the USA in a similar way as Singapore or Malaysia, only even more complicated. I remember waiting for a bus on Roosevelt Island in New York and I asked the lady at the bus stop what the fare was. She could not speak English, so I asked her if she spoke Spanish, which she did. So she told me the fare in Spanish. the interchange simply switched from English to Spanish.
Sometimes people come up and asked "Habla Espanol?" and I reply in Spanish that I do not speak Spanish very well, but can I try to help them. Sometimes they continue, sometimes they move on. I have had encounters with strangers in Tagalog or Mandarin in the USA and it is not an issue.
Even when I was in Brazil, I spoke little Portuguese, but I could still talk to various people in English, French, Spanish, Mandarin, Japanese or Cantonese -- People are cool with it.
The USA was never a strictly English speaking country and English is not the official language of the USA -- no more than Spanish or any other language. All of them can be used in court, and if there are enough speakers of certain languages in an area, it is required to print voting materials and other citizenship materials in that language.
It is just as wrong to expect people to speak English in the USA as to speak Spanish or any other language. Why expect these things? I don't.
But of course, economically and politically, English is more valuable than Spanish or the other langugages in the USA. There are in general more economic and social opportunities / rewards for proficiency in English in the USA. However, conversely, there are economic and political rewards for Spanish proficiency as well, and many companies and individuals cannot ignore this and do seek these advantages also.
And yes, German was almost made the national language of the USA during the immediate post-independence period. and German language education was prevalent in the USA up until WWI. WWI and WWII helped to cause German to lose its prestige in the USA, and this hastened descendants of German speakers to forgo using it.