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[P]
Bush gives bilingual presidential address; precedent for a multilingual US?

By Estanislao Martínez in News
Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:18:32 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

In an unprecedented move for an US president, President Bush broadcast yesterday (Sunday) his weekly radio address in both English and Spanish. Reuters Story; Yahoo! Full Coverage


We should all know by now of the 58% upsurge in the US's Hispanic population during the 90's, as reported by the Census so far. For many years, demographers have projected such an upsurge; what they never expected, however, is that it would happen as swiftly as it is happening. In fact, the Hispanic population has become more or less equal in number to the African-USian population, if not bigger.

Along with this surge in the Hispanic population comes a surge in the use of Spanish in the US. And, predictably enough, a surge of ill-will towards both the immigrants and their language. Most notably, in the one state whose white population recently became a numerical minority, California, Prop. 227 was passed and bans the use of any language other than English in education. Also, there is the growth over the last two decades of the English Only movement, which seeks to further diminish the use of other languages, most particularly Spanish, in the US.

Given this context, the fact that the President chose to address an audience in Spanish becomes quite a precedent, regardless of motive (since, as we should all guess, the whole point is to court a group which is poised to hold significant voting power, after all). When services provided in Spanish or other languages are under severe attack, the use of Spanish by the nation's top executive is doubtlessly significant, at least symbolically-- multilingualism, even if to a very small degree, has reached the very top of the political hierarchy of the modern US.

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Related Links
o Yahoo
o Reuters Story
o Yahoo! Full Coverage
o 58% upsurge in the US's Hispanic population during the 90's
o the Hispanic population has become more or less equal in number to the African-USian population
o the immigrants
o Prop. 227
o bans the use of any language other than English in education
o English Only
o Also by Estanislao Martínez


Display: Sort:
Bush gives bilingual presidential address; precedent for a multilingual US? | 96 comments (72 topical, 24 editorial, 0 hidden)
Such demagoguery. (4.37 / 16) (#3)
by Apuleius on Mon May 07, 2001 at 03:58:55 AM EST

California didn't pass 227 out of anti-immigrant sentiment. Exactly the opposite. Californian schools were failing to ensure that immigrant kids become fluent in English, dooming them to menial jobs. Any person who knows his butt from his elbow knows that language acquisition is easier during one's youth, and yet Californian schools were delaying their students' learning of English by teaching them in Spanish.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
Intention versus consequences (3.33 / 3) (#15)
by imperium on Mon May 07, 2001 at 08:16:56 AM EST

Prop. 227 may well have a positive effect on the education and employment prospects of the children of immigrants. However, surely you're not disputing that many of those who voted for it did so out of anti-immigrant sentiment?

x.
imperium
[ Parent ]

And your point is? (3.00 / 1) (#27)
by WinPimp2K on Mon May 07, 2001 at 09:53:43 AM EST

I certainly see nothing wrong with a bigot performing self-amputation of a few toes using a firearm.

Jokes aside, I think that a single "official language" for a nation is a good thing - simply in terms of the reduced expense of maintaining and publishing all of the official documents a government produces as naturally as male bovines produce....
well you get the idea.

[ Parent ]

I wouldn't say that if I were you... (4.00 / 1) (#28)
by theboz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:03:32 AM EST

...I think that a single "official language" for a nation is a good thing...

If so, you better learn Spanish. With the increase of Spanish-speaking people coming to the U.S. I think it will end up overtaking English in the future. The population of the "average white American" is shrinking while the hispanic population in the U.S. grows internally as well as the immigration. It's a good thing in my opinion, because a lot of the hispanic countries have morals and values that most people in the U.S. seem to have forgotten. Maybe this country will pull out of it's downward spiral with the inclusion of all the new people and culture.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

wouldn't say what? (none / 0) (#34)
by WinPimp2K on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:46:15 AM EST

Seeing as English has a reputation as a near universal "second language". I expect that it will be around for the forseeable future. Still, I'm in favor of a single official language - personal prejudice makes me favor English - I suspect some folks could make better arguments on the desireablity of a particular language than myself.

However bringing in the argument that Hispanic countries have "morals and values" is something I'd advise you not to do. I'm thinking of countries that have had a reputation for corrupt and bribeable governments even before the massive moral damage brought about by the War on Drugs. Perhaps you were thinking of some other Hispanic countries?

The above bit is not me being bigoted, but lets please keep the discussion on the language issue OK?

[ Parent ]

Mexico is the one I know best... (3.00 / 2) (#40)
by theboz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:30:06 PM EST

Where people actually take care of their families, e.g. people don't put the elderly in hellholes so they don't have to take care of them, kids don't hate their parents, people are polite to you when you go to a restaurant instead of acting like you are wasting their time, it is the norm to be optimistic about life, even if you are in poverty.

As far as the corrupt and bribeable governments, you must realize that the U.S. is just as bad and in some cases worse. Our previous president's last acts where he took bribes to pardon criminals is just a small example of how screwed up the U.S. government is. However, that's no indication of the people here, just the dictators we have. It's the same in Mexico, the people are seperated from the government, plus it's not at all like the movie "Traffic" or anything you've seen on TV. I may not know much because I've only been to 3 or 4 states within Mexico and I haven't seen the border states which are supposed to be very problematic. In any case, I feel safer walking downtown in Guadalajara than I do in Atlanta, which is a shame because the U.S. is supposed to be more advanced and protected. I also can't explain very well what I mean by the morals and values that the people from these countries bring, but experiencing it firsthand is the only way to understand. They are a happier, more loving people in general. In the U.S. it seems that most people are always depressed and cynical. A lot of Americans don't take the time to enjoy life which is a shame because it is such a waste.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Intentions. (none / 0) (#68)
by Apuleius on Mon May 07, 2001 at 04:15:19 PM EST

The organizers weren't acting out of anti-immigrant sentiment. Maybe some of the voters were, but I suspect the majority weren't.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
[ Parent ]
the ends justify (none / 0) (#89)
by jovlinger on Tue May 08, 2001 at 01:03:18 PM EST

Just like the right ends don't justify the wrong means, the wrong ends don't invalidate the right means.

If racists voted the "right" way (for immigrants, in the long run) for the "wrong" reasons (for racists in the long run), their vote still likely had a positive long term effect. Their reason for voting that way counts for squat.

[ Parent ]
Maybe someone can tell me: (3.80 / 15) (#4)
by elenchos on Mon May 07, 2001 at 04:13:10 AM EST

Does Bush sound any better in Spanish than in English? If he is able to achieve that, you know, life-like effect in Spanish which seems to elude him so often in English, maybe he should just give up attempting to speak English at all. It isn't like he's required to try to speak English, after all, and if it just makes him look bad then why keep doing it? Especially when everyone seems to think his speaking Spanish makes him look good. It would be a simple solution to a problem that continues to dog him ever since he was electorated, going back to his nominification, in fact.

Him being bilingual is actually the one and only thing that I like about the guy. On second thought, maybe it would be better if I didn't know if he sounded drunk in that language too...

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have

Bush Bashing .... (3.25 / 4) (#22)
by tetsuo on Mon May 07, 2001 at 09:11:35 AM EST

...for when US-Centric whining and grammar bitching just won't do.



[ Parent ]
Yes, but... (none / 0) (#43)
by spaceghoti on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:47:47 PM EST

If he hadn't said it, I would have.

If Dubya can sound better in Spanish than he does in English, he needs to do it. The gods know his English skills aren't winning him any points. It isn't uncommon for the United States to elect an idiot to the Oval Office, but rarely has that fact been so blatantly obvious. The man needs any boost to his image he can get.



"Humor. It is a difficult concept. It is not logical." -Saavik, ST: Wrath of Khan

[ Parent ]
That grammar is trivial on K5 and /. does not mean (4.50 / 2) (#51)
by elenchos on Mon May 07, 2001 at 01:55:17 PM EST

...that the leader of the United States can be let off the hook for sounding inept and confused. What he says counts, both in it's specific meaning and in it's tone. The confusion over Bush's statment that we would go to war over Taiwan is the perfect example. People were saying "Well, with Bush, you don't know if he really meant to say that or not." How can you carry that kind of responsibility and have everyone wondering if you really meant what you said? It is like having a football quaterback whose speech is so slurred that no one can hear him call the play.

The red herring of "Bush bashing" is just a code phrase that means "I like Bush and want to make it so no one is allowed to criticize him for anything." Newsflash: I never asked, and never will ask, for anyone's permission to criticize the president, and I would hope that no one else does either.

Instead of crying foul, either defend the guy with facts or sit it out.

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have
[ Parent ]

well, Castro doesn't like it. (none / 0) (#46)
by chopper on Mon May 07, 2001 at 01:04:14 PM EST

apparantly, according to The Washington Post, Castro thinks that Bush's spanish leaves a bit to be desired.

from the article:

President Bush may have reached out to Hispanic voters Saturday by doing his radio address in Spanish, but it will no doubt spark unwarranted criticism from Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

Castro recently took another cheap shot at Bush, ridiculing Bush's Spanish and saying Bush had misquoted Cuban independence hero and poet Jose Marti. Bush, at the Summit of the Americas in Canada last month, quoted Marti as saying "freedom is not negotiable."

At a news conference a few days later, Castro said Marti never wrote that and suggested it would be a good idea to send Bush a Marti scholar and some of Marti's books and a Spanish teacher, according to Agence France-Presse. The official Cuban media has described Bush's Spanish as "mediocre."

No one's claiming Bush is exactly fluent, but the White House, citing a book by Carlos Ripoll called "Jose Marti Thoughts," says Castro has it wrong.


give a man a fish,he'll eat for a day

give a man religion and he'll starve to death while praying for a fish
[ Parent ]

worse in Spanish (1.00 / 1) (#48)
by Arkady on Mon May 07, 2001 at 01:10:00 PM EST

All the Spanish-language quotes I've seen or heard from Bush the Latest include long pauses and mumblings along the lines of "what was that word again". He also seems to have problems with verb conjugation and gender agreement, in addition to the random-neural-firings-vocabulary problems which he has in English as well.

His Spanish is certainly good enough to instruct the servents, but he definitely shouldn't try to use it for anything complicated.

robin

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere Anarchy is loosed upon the world.


[ Parent ]
Gah! (none / 0) (#95)
by minusp on Thu May 10, 2001 at 09:08:12 AM EST

I heard that "speech" and it was embarassing... that was the level of linguistic achievement usually attained by the head of Housekeeping, or the field boss. Maybe it was not intended to sound that way, but it did. Good enough to get the point across to the help, but totally lacking in any nuance, or even a clue as to what vowels and consonants sound like. He needs lessons, *now*, or should give it a rest.



Remember, regime change begins at home.
[ Parent ]
Dubya underrated? (2.85 / 7) (#10)
by slaytanic killer on Mon May 07, 2001 at 08:00:54 AM EST

At least he is taking steps to becoming a better communicator. For example, the Kyoto environmental treaty may have been a total mistake. China would have been on the list of "developing nations" and therefore exempt from much of the treaty. However, any country that can reliably come up with the a-bomb can skip the CO2-inefficient phase with not that much pain.

If only he made an address where he made his "commitment" to the environment a bit more clear. With perhaps a substantial program to help lower the barrier to entry for receptive small 3rd world nations to learn clean power technologies. He probably wouldn't even need to deliver, since most of these 3rd world countries have dictators who would only get in the way.

English *Only* is dumb (4.58 / 17) (#12)
by DesiredUsername on Mon May 07, 2001 at 08:11:32 AM EST

But English *For Everybody* is smart. Our policy should be thus: "Everybody must speak English well enough to stand trial without a translator. If you want to be multilingual beyond that, that's fine."



Play 囲碁
Indeed... (none / 0) (#30)
by RareHeintz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:05:50 AM EST

You put that far more succintly than I did in a more long-winded reply above. That was rational and to the point - kudos.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

Due process. (2.33 / 3) (#59)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:34:47 PM EST

Our policy should be thus: "Everybody must speak English well enough to stand trial without a translator. If you want to be multilingual beyond that, that's fine."

So if you don't speak English that well, you lose your right to due process?

--em
[ Parent ]

Citizenship (none / 0) (#61)
by Woundweavr on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:42:33 PM EST

IIRC, you must have a fairly decent command of the English language in order to become a naturalized US citizen.

This doesn't do much to provide due process to illegal immigrants, non-citizen residents and tourists. However, in the first case, there is simply deportation usually. Non-citizen residents can also be deported rather than jailed. Non-citizens and tourists could also hire their own translator or multilingual lawyer if funds were sufficent.

[ Parent ]

Trick questions (3.00 / 2) (#66)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 03:39:37 PM EST

IIRC, you must have a fairly decent command of the English language in order to become a naturalized US citizen.

But what if you're a US citizen born with another language? To pic an utterly realistic example, what if you are born in rural Puerto Rico, and move to NYC?

Anyway, you seem not to have recognized my post as the trick question it was, in more than one way.

--em
[ Parent ]

Got me (none / 0) (#88)
by Woundweavr on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:32:05 AM EST

I totally overlooked that aspect. I still don't think that the US should/will become multilingual, but the issue is even more complicated than I thought.

[ Parent ]
non-english americans (4.00 / 1) (#77)
by mikpos on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:00:00 PM EST

I'm just guessing here, but I think there are US citizens, perhaps even people born in the US, who are deaf or otherwise unable to speak.

[ Parent ]
Re: Due process (none / 0) (#75)
by Random Utinni on Mon May 07, 2001 at 07:21:53 PM EST

Hmmm, cutting back to Dubya... His 'handlers' are always explaining his flubs as "That's just how the President speaks"... Do they count as translators?

[ Parent ]
Sins of omission (3.84 / 13) (#17)
by yankeehack on Mon May 07, 2001 at 08:45:19 AM EST

A few other things to consider when reading this article:

  • This radio address wasn't the first instance of Bush speaking Spanish while acting in his official capacity. In fact, he often spoke Spanish while speaking to his constituents in Texas and also during his presidential campaign. His up and coming nephew, George P. appeared in Spanish only advertising during the presidential campaign.

  • On a personal note, Bush's sister in law, Columba (wife of Jeb, mother of George P.) is Hispanic.

  • Even though EM "forgot" to mention this, the Democrats' response to the address was delivered in Spanish. So the political pandering goes both ways.
The overall tone of the article annoys me because the author assumes that Hispanic=Democratic (and that Bush is using his language skills for political pandering).

"Please people, if you have no knowledge in a field, don't try to write a grand all-encompassing treatise on it." --Delirium

take a look at my top level post (none / 0) (#58)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:33:34 PM EST

here

--em
[ Parent ]

Hostility to Spanish (4.16 / 6) (#23)
by DesiredUsername on Mon May 07, 2001 at 09:19:31 AM EST

I remember Sesame Street having a LOT of Spanish stuff on it. Several characters were Hispanic, and Luis even spoke with an accent. There was a lot of counting in Spanish and who can forget "peligro"? (peh-LEEEEEEE-grrow)

Now I watch SS with my toddler--no Spanish at all, except for Luis (rarely) and he just has an accent, he doesn't speak Spanish. Of course, this could just be a further symptom of The Street going WAY downhill (they also have nearly no Kermit, Cookie Monster, Grover or Bert-and-Ernie) but I wonder if they were pressured into dropping the "confusing" multilingual stuff.

I put that in scare quotes, but actually, it WAS confusing. My mom tells a story about me around age 2 watching SS when the number of the day was eight. "Ocho" they said. "No ocho! Eight!" I reportedly shouted.

Play 囲碁
germs! (none / 0) (#72)
by ttfkam on Mon May 07, 2001 at 06:07:45 PM EST

...and when I was in kindergarten -- I actually remember this -- I saw that someone had spit on the table. I told the teacher and she replied, "Oh, some saliva." To which I responded, "No! Germs!" Why? Because that's the way my mother always referred to it -- or rather how I interpreted her references. "Watch out! You'll get germs on you," when there was saliva somewhere. I, in turn, assumed that the name was "germs."

Mistakes and assumptions in language happen at that age. It's not such a huge leap to understand that there is more than one way to speak. Over a billion people on this planet learned it while growing up including members of countries that score much higher on tests than the US.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Plaza Sesamo (none / 0) (#82)
by slakhead on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:07:42 PM EST

I do not watch Sesame Street anymore and I do not really remember much of it either but Sesame Street is hardly displaying any hostility to Hispanic people. They have a whole different version of Sesame Street produced specifically for Hispanic children called "Plaza Sesamo." It runs on all the Hispanic channels in my area.

It does not have all the same characters but it has parallel characters in the same vein as the original. I know this because it was required viewing for all of us in my high school Spanish class.

Far from being hostile to Hispanic people they even have a Hispanic Sesame Street theme park in Mexico.

[ Parent ]

There's another school of thought... (4.75 / 12) (#29)
by RareHeintz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:57:28 AM EST

Warning to readers: U.S.-centric content follows.

While a number of English-only movements are clearly rooted in hostility towards America's largest immigrant population, there is another way of thinking about it that (IMHO) has some legitimacy: Without all of us being able to operate in a common language, civil order and equality of economic opportunity cannot help but suffer.

There is genuine benefit in standardizing on a single language for all Americans to conduct their civil business in, whether that is voting, promulgating a lawsuit, or what have you. Without that, we wind up being two (or more) countries in one that cannot hold a meaningful dialogue with one another. Inevitably, one group will be more powerful (currently those that speak the dominant American English dialect), and the other will suffer from poorer access to civil services and economic opportunity.

What such a single-language system needs, and what many English-only proposals lack, however, is sufficient educational opportunity for those who speak the non-dominant language (or non-dominant dialects of English, such as those spoken in Appalachia or predominantly African-American parts of major cities) to learn the dominant English dialect. This may be the hallmark of an un-bigoted English-only program - the willingness to spend the money and effort to bring the linguistically disenfranchised into the fold.

Some will whine that this is a way of assimilating and destroying elements of foreign cultures that are brought here by immigrants. I don't buy it: First, nothing keeps people from using their own language and expressing their cultural uniqueness in homes, churches, and neighborhoods. Secondly, people who move from one country to another are going to have to expect to make some concessions to their new environment. I wouldn't dream of moving to France or Japan or anywhere else without attempting to learn enough of the language and culture to get by.

Anyway, that's my US$2e-02.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily

I agree... (4.33 / 3) (#33)
by theboz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:41:23 AM EST

I don't think that anyone argues against that exactly. However, the problem is that because the U.S. does not have an official language, English may not always be the most dominant. Also, while I think it would be beneficial to have a language that the government uses officially (including schools, law enforcement, etc) I think that private businesses should not have to abide by that. When I go into a Mexican restaurant, I don't want to speak English, and the wait staff is ok with that and I have better conversations with them as a result. I have been in middle eastern stores, where my coworkers speak Arabic to the guy working there. I think it's ok for businesses to implement their own policies, including English-only, but also that means other businesses should not have to speak English if they wish. I think it could hurt their business but it's their choice.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

US version of Mandarin (4.71 / 7) (#36)
by MrAcheson on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:10:59 PM EST

Exactly, I think its overall a bad idea to give someone a drivers license if they can't understand what an english speaking cop is saying when he pulls them over. We had a group of people hit by a train for this reason not long ago. The cop pulled them over for driving recklessly and they stopped on a train tracks. The cop didn't speak spanish and they didn't speak english so they couldn't understand him telling them to move their car off the tracks. The inevitable happened before they could get a translator.

Oddly enough all my english speaking immigrant friends feel the same. Two people in my lab took their driving tests in english on principle despite it being their second language. One guy I work with is Czech and has three kids who are just starting into the US public educational system. If he was hispanic he could have them taught in spanish, but since he is too minor a minority he has to teach them czech at home and let them learn in english in schools. A bunch of my german and chinese coworkers feel about the same way. Either make everyone taught in english or stop discriminating against minorities by size and voting power.

At some point a society will suffer unless it standardizes on things like languages for trade and civil service. IIRC adopting Mandarin is credited as one of the biggest breakthroughs in Chinese government.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
China's one-language solution (4.66 / 3) (#37)
by RareHeintz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:16:40 PM EST

IIRC adopting Mandarin is credited as one of the biggest breakthroughs in Chinese government.

The flip side there, though, is that they take the extra step of forbidding other languages, such as Tibetan, in an active attempt to stamp out other cultures. Certainly, the standardization on the Mandarin dialect and the promulgation of the simplifed character system (and of Pin-yin romanization) have been good things for China, but some of the totalitarian implementation details have not been big wins for everyone living in China.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

Not Perfect (3.00 / 2) (#38)
by MrAcheson on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:21:26 PM EST

Agreed, but standardized languages in multiple language cultures are in general a good idea. China is perhaps not the best example of this in practice however.


These opinions do not represent those of the US Army, DoD, or US Government.


[ Parent ]
Indeed... (4.00 / 1) (#39)
by RareHeintz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:27:08 PM EST

A far better example might be India, which has countless local dialects of Hindi and other languages spoken within their borders. Last I heard, they were using English for most or all of their government business, and that's said to be a big win in terms of maintaining uniform access to government services, and in interpreting the law in general (as opposed to the probable results of attempting to interpret a law translated into n different languages/dialects).

Disclaimer: This isn't meant to imply that English is necessarily better than some other language they could have chosen (and in fact, it was pretty much chosen for them during the British colonial period), only that they have one, stick with it, and have thus kept a country (mostly) together.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

Stupid people (3.00 / 2) (#80)
by newellm on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:56:36 PM EST

I don't care what language you speak, if you don't know not to park on train tracks, you shouldn't be driving. There are trains all over the world, it should be common knowledge that they hurt when they hit you.

Matt Newell

[ Parent ]
not a new idea at all (4.00 / 1) (#76)
by mikpos on Mon May 07, 2001 at 09:57:11 PM EST

What you're describing is usually called an "official language" and is common throughout the world. There's no reason to think that having only one official language is beneficial, though, if there is a significant minority that speak other languages.

For example, here in Canada, there are two official languages (French and English). There is some animosity between the anglos and the francos, but that's for historical reasons, not linguistic reasons, and the introduction of two official languages has proved useful in allowing anglophones and francophones equal access to civil service (though arguably not much else).

[ Parent ]

No way. (none / 0) (#86)
by lonesmurf on Tue May 08, 2001 at 10:47:20 AM EST

Switzerland is About half the size of Virginia. Within this tiny country, they speak four languages, German, French, Italian and Romansche (number of speakers in that order, descending). The solution to the obvious communication problems introduced by such a high number of languages spoken in such a small area is not to dumb down the masses to one language, but to teach the three main languages. They begin in elementary school and by sixth grade the kids speak at least two languages. Fluently. Not only this, but they also learn English in High School. Latin in some Colleges.

This may be the hallmark of an un-bigoted English-only program - the willingness to spend the money and effort to bring the linguistically disenfranchised into the fold.

I wonder how the English feel about how the USians bastardized their language.


Rami

I am not a jolly man. Remove the mirth from my email to send.


[ Parent ]
Actually... (none / 0) (#87)
by RareHeintz on Tue May 08, 2001 at 11:22:37 AM EST

...what you say proves at least part of my point. Everyone in Switzerland has at least one language in common, yes? I have difficulty imagining that Switzerland would be as prosperous and prominent as it is now without this.

You're right that it serves as a counterexample to my thesis that a single common language is necessary to effective civil governance. However, I'd hold that Switzerland is an anomaly in this case: They have a relatively weak national government, with most responsibilities delegated to the highly autonomous cantons.

The solution to the obvious communication problems introduced by such a high number of languages spoken in such a small area is not to dumb down the masses to one language

I disagree that that is necessarily "dumbing down" - it doesn't preclude teaching of other languages. I only suggest that everyone needs a common language.

I wonder how the English feel about how the USians bastardized their language.

I don't know what this has to do with anything, and only sexually frustrated lexicographical purists actually give a shit. Language changes with time, geography, and technology - get used to it.

OK,
- B
--
http://www.bradheintz.com/ - updated kind of daily
[ Parent ]

Man, (3.37 / 16) (#32)
by trhurler on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:40:10 AM EST

You know, if Bush decided to grant residency to all illegal immigrants currently in the country, you'd still find a way to slime him. You seem to think that because all Democrats are pandering worthless sleazebags, therefore everyone is. Has it occurred to you that maybe Bush figures that, just as he did in Texas, if he's going to speak to the public, he should speak so that the public understands him? Has it occurred to you that the only people to make a big deal out of this are his detractors, and that he, with characteristic class and seriousness, simply did it rather than make a media circus out of it? I certainly wish the guy would give up on his right wing social policy positions, but watching people belittle him for being "stupid" and "pandering" and so on after eight years of Clinton makes me wonder if most people actually have anything in their skulls forward of the brain stem; by comparison, he's a genius and a paragon of virtue - and when he talks, you don't feel like he's trying to sell you a used car or weasel his way out of a fine for having 500 dogs living under his porch!

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

rhetoric (none / 0) (#50)
by alprazolam on Mon May 07, 2001 at 01:38:39 PM EST

After 8 years of everybody and their brother bash Clinton and 'the liberal media', I assume Democrats are upset and want to pay back Republicans in the same way for every slight they felt Clinton got. I sort of felt like that for a little while (when I first heard about Bush running) but after the election I decided to not do what pissed me off during Clinton's presidency, and judge Bush on policy instead of party affiliation.

On a more ontopic note, I think it may be getting closer to a time when the government should abandon any sort of racial considerations. As the article points out, Hispanic doesn't have any sort of relation to race. At least with 'Black' or 'White' you have some sort of visual distinction and a legal history of discrimination based on skin color that needs to be reversed. But I wonder if you gave people more options on census forms whether they would consider themselves black or white or hispanic or multiracial. It all seems pretty meaningless and political. If it weren't for the fact that up until the late 80's there was still government supported exlusionary policies based on skin color I would like to see the notion or race officially dropped by the government.

[ Parent ]

What does this have to do with anything? (3.00 / 2) (#54)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:13:55 PM EST

You know, my whole point was to point out a potentially important historical precedent. It matters little to my point that the president who did this is Bush. I fail to see what the point to your whole rant is.

--em
[ Parent ]

Pure, unadulterated hatred (none / 0) (#92)
by gbd on Wed May 09, 2001 at 09:52:32 AM EST

.. all Democrats are pandering worthless sleazebags ..

How is this any different from me saying:

  • "All Republicans hate black people and the poor"
  • "All Christians are clinic-bombing terrorists"
  • "All gun owners are dangerous beret-wearing fanatics"
It's interesting that you complain about perceived sweeping generalizations from Democrats by making a sweeping generalization of your own. If you have access to a dictionary, you might want to look up the word "hypocrisy."

--
Gunter glieben glauchen globen.
[ Parent ]
Seems pretty shallow on Bush's part (2.66 / 3) (#35)
by MoxFulder on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:46:39 AM EST

It's good to see President Bush speaking in Spanish. Not only does it show he has a little culture and intelligence in him, but it also acknoledges the importance of the Spanish speaking community in the U.S. ...

... but overall I'd saying it's nothing more than a political move. He's just sucking up to the only minority group that seems to like him even a little bit. :-)

Is he just talking in Spanish or has he also started to think about issues that affect the Hispanic population of the U.S.? Has he been working on immigration, bilingual education, etc.? If not, then this is all just for show.

"If good things lasted forever, would we realize how special they are?"
--Calvin and Hobbes


So what's your point? (2.00 / 1) (#53)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:09:07 PM EST

[...] overall I'd saying it's nothing more than a political move.He's just sucking up to the only minority group that seems to like him even a little bit. :-)

IIRC, Hispanics nationwide voted mostly Gore.

Anyway, I said precisely what you "point out":

[..] the fact that the President chose to address an audience in Spanish becomes quite a precedent, regardless of motive (since, as we should all guess, the whole point is to court a group which is poised to hold significant voting power, after all).

--em
[ Parent ]

Roughly 60% Gore/30% Bush in last election.... (4.00 / 1) (#60)
by yankeehack on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:35:19 PM EST

IIRC, Hispanics nationwide voted mostly Gore.

Yeah, according to election analysts Gore should have picked up more Hispanic votes than he did. If you follow this link you will see that the distribution of votes was roughly 60-30. However, besides the rough numbers, it is interesting to see that Hispanics were big players in battleground states.

And, I also seem to remember that Gore should have won Miami-Dade county handily, but he didn't because of the members of the Cuban community still annoyed about Elian.

"Please people, if you have no knowledge in a field, don't try to write a grand all-encompassing treatise on it." --Delirium
[ Parent ]

Cubans (4.00 / 1) (#63)
by ucblockhead on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:55:55 PM EST

The Cuban community has always been far more conservative than other hispanic groups, and one of the huge mistakes that Gore made was in assuming that all hispanic groups were the same. Politically speaking, a Californian of Mexican descent and a Floridan of Cuban descent are very, very different politically.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]
Republicans and Hispanics (4.00 / 2) (#62)
by ucblockhead on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:52:58 PM EST

Bush is part of a Republican movement to try to get more hispanic votes, mostly grounded in the theory that because of the relative social conservatism of many hispanics (catholic views on the family, abortion and the like), they should be able to make signficant inroads.

It is in direct opposition to the Pete Wilson strategy of using hispanic immigrants as scapegoats, a strategy that is seen as a complete failure, given the fortunes of the Republican Party in California.

From what I understand, they've made much headway in Texas, even more in Florida (because of Cuban ultra-conservatism), though they've not done as well because of Pete Wilson and other idiots like B-1 Bob Dornan.

(Ironic, also, because before Pete Wilson became California governor, he himself was making many inroads with the hispanic community because of his more moderate behavior as San Diego mayor, and also because of an amnesty program for illegal aliens that he got pushed through. )
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Historical Precedent (4.00 / 3) (#42)
by Woundweavr on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:38:23 PM EST

There has been a huge increase in the US Hispanic, and thus Spanish speaking, population. That doesn't mean we have to become a dual language country. English is the de facto official language (I don't think its official).

There have been many waves of non-English speaking immigrants entering the US. Germans spoke German. Irish spoke Irish Gaelic(and usually English). Italians spoke Italian. Each wave had its own language but they adapted to this country(or at least their children did). It did not precipitate changing the way the rest of the country communicates.

In past waves, often times the families also retained their original language. The Jewish usually still speak Hebrew for religious purposes. It was much the same way for Italians and Germans and everyother major group. However, during WWI and especially WII this changed. Germans especially repressed their "German-ness" (for fairly obvious reasons) and the language was often lost.

Its likely a similar occurance will happen to the hispanic population, if history provides an applicable model.



Not necessarily. (4.33 / 3) (#45)
by theboz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:57:53 PM EST

There is one major difference that I think plays a role here. In the past, the German, Italian, and Irish people immigrated from countries overseas. Also, the majority of people to ever come to the U.S. did so because they were poor. The Irish flocked here during the potato famine, and the poor Mexicans come here because they live in Mexico city or something and can't get work.

Now, the main difference is that Mexico is on the border of the U.S. When people came from Europe, they left their families behind for the most part. They didn't keep a house or a place to live or any ties to the country other than perhaps writing letters. With Mexicans it is different. Most of the people that come here return, if just to visit relatives, or just because they like it better with the exception of the working situation. A lot of them are seasonal workers, so they are here in the months that are good for construction and working on farms, then return to Mexico with their money for the other months. Since they are so close it is much cheaper and faster than going overseas, so they will not be cut off from their families and cultures here.

In any case, you could be correct, but it will take a lot longer to change them than it has for other large groups of immigrants.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

Time of Stay (none / 0) (#55)
by Woundweavr on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:15:01 PM EST

The effect of migrational workers on the fabric of US society won't be nearly as important as those who remain in the country for several years at a time. Italians especially often returned (often to find a spouse), and sometimes did not return. Those Spanish speakers who aren't here full time, and especially those who are not citizens, will not be able to effect such a major societal change.

Any major language change would have to result from a large chunk of population. A near majority or a sizable middle class minority would be needed for the change. However, in order to become middle class, knowledge of the operating language of the society is needed.

I believe the increase in Spanish speakers will increase multilinguality (is that even a word?) in the US, both in their own communities and among others who may rediscover their ancestral language. However, official movement as a society away from English as an official language, is unlikely.

[ Parent ]

de facto (none / 0) (#71)
by ttfkam on Mon May 07, 2001 at 05:49:06 PM EST

English is the de facto language, not the official language of the United States.

And reiterating someone else, the recent census polls showed that the Hispanic population in the US is growing at a phenomenal rate. It may come to pass that a large portion of the middle class may in fact speak Spanish in the not-so-distant future (even though many Hispanics in the US don't speak anything besides English).

Personally I think we should all standardize on the most-used language in the world. The language spoken by more people than any other.

Mandarin.

If I'm made in God's image then God needs to lay off the corn chips and onion dip. Get some exercise, God! - Tatarigami
[ Parent ]
Middle Class (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by Woundweavr on Mon May 07, 2001 at 06:11:13 PM EST

But how will the Non-English speakers become middle class. In order to become middle class, you generally need to be educated. One cannot receive a US college diploma if one doesn't speak English(not realistically). US companies often don't accept non-US diplomas (excluding Canadian and English schools). Thus to enter the middle class, they must learn the language and thus switching to multilingualism loses urgency to them.

On Mandarin:

Mandarin and English are the two "level 5" languages in complexity. They are the most difficult to learn. Mandarin, however, is even more difficult for non-Asian speakers to learn due to its tone reliance. English is very close to becoming the "global language". Although there are more Chinese speakers (some dialect, not all Mandarin) and in ~5- years there will be more native Spanish and Arabic speakers, most world organizations choose English as its official language. The European Central Bank's official language is English. The ASEAN's (Asian trade group) official language is English. English remains the most common language on the Internet. Mandarin remains difficult to process in comparison to English on standard layouts and has only existed in a standardized form since ~WWII. There won't be an official global language anytime soon. If there were to be one, it'd be English.

[ Parent ]

My thoughts (4.00 / 1) (#74)
by theboz on Mon May 07, 2001 at 07:03:29 PM EST

But how will the Non-English speakers become middle class. In order to become middle class, you generally need to be educated.

Colleges in Mexico are apparantly close enough to the ones in the U.S. that they count. My fiancee's sister got a job working at Honeywell with a Mexican degree, and personally, I didn't even finish going to college and I still got a good job. As far as it being necessary to speak English to be in the middle class, it probably depends on what part of the U.S. you are in. I live in Atlanta, and you always hear on the radio for car dealerships a guy speaking Spanish at the end saying he can help them or something. I would assume the same goes for realty and other consumer sales businesses. As far as working goes, especially with computers, English is taught at least enough for them to be able to communicate with coworkers. Generally the middle and upper class Mexicans that come to the U.S. have a basic understanding of English, it's the poor that will never be middle class that are the problem. However, if they end up residing here, their kids learn English. I've seen many situations where the parents rely on their young children to translate and help them take care of everything that needs to be done in English.

One thing I've noticed that is different in the two countries is that it is easier to make something of yourself in the U.S. In Mexico it is possible to start a business and make money, but you will never move up in the world working for someone else. The U.S. is different, because you can still be part of the middle class or get rich and still work for someone else. I think that is one reason so many people come here from other countries.

And as far as English being the common business for language, I would also like to point out that it is the standard language for aviation as well. I don't see there being a global language anytime soon, and somewhere I remember reading a great article about this subject. If English did become the global language, it would still mutate into other languages. It used examples of Singapore and India, but even with the U.S. and England you can tell a huge difference, and cockney is something most Americans can't understand at all.

Stuff.
[ Parent ]

official multilingualism in the US (4.37 / 8) (#44)
by mami on Mon May 07, 2001 at 12:50:58 PM EST

I am against it.

The U.S. has enough problems to provide adaequate school education for the masses already. Children, who have to change languages between age six to 14 and are exposed to learn two sets of phonetics of two languages, will be confused and their writing skills lag behind in both languages for a very long time.

Many people in the U.S. (mainly white Americans with European anchestry) have slight inferiority complexes (especially when it comes to French :-)) regarding their foreign language skills. They think that their schools don't teach enough foreign languages to them. They know that children pick up languages easier in younger age and they therefore tend to believe that it's a good idea, if their elementary school kids learn some fancy foreign language and are delighted if their seven year olds utter some foreign language words.

If that leads them to be too overly open minded to the idea of multilingualism in public schools for major segments of the immigrating population, like offering bilingual education in Spanish and English, I think it's an unfortunate mistake to make.

First of all, a school is first of all the place, where you not only learn to read, but much more importantly to write in your own *mother language*. Though children before puberty pick up automagically any language quickly with regards to the spoken word , this has little to do with learning the second language to read and write, nor does it help to develop a rich vocabulary. Without a rich vocabulary and firm foundation in grammar in your own mother language, you can't develop a rich vocabulary and adaequate writing skills in the second language.

U.S. is the country with the most diverse immigrant population worldwide, most racially and ethnically diverse and has enough problems already to embrace them all equally within their borders.
I think it's the right approach to have them all educated in one language. It's the only unifying thing there is for the immigrating population.

And besides what great originally spanish speaking writers and poets the U.S. can be proud of. I doubt that this was due to the success of their *bilingual* school education though. :-)

I understand very well how important the language is to uphold your cultural identity. But there comes a point in life for any immigrant where he has to make a decision about living here and educate himself in the language of his new "fatherland".

It's a simple fact that you can't keep your cultural identity unchanged over more than two generations when you immigrate to the U.S. The grand children have by then already developed a distinct cultural identity for themselves, may be not yet American, but something very close to it.

Sorry for the long post. I had to bring my child through four languages between age three to fourteen and it was a living hell. I never, never would do that again, if I had the choice. Because nothing is worse than not having a motherlanguage at all.



Ignorance of the World... :-( (none / 0) (#90)
by Tezcatlipoca on Wed May 09, 2001 at 07:34:40 AM EST

I am against it. The U.S. has enough problems to provide adaequate school education for the masses already. Children, who have to change languages between age six to 14 and are exposed to learn two sets of phonetics of two languages, will be confused and their writing skills lag behind in both languages for a very long time.

This is a completely derrotist attitude, specialy if for once people in the US would care to look outside its own borders:

-Most people in Europe speak at least 2 languages (mother tongue +English) fluently. In countries like Switzerland, Belgium or in regions like Catalu&a(Spain) that adds up to 3 languages (national+regional+English). If one professes some religions like Islam, that could add at least a passing knowledge of yet another language (arabic). People are doing fine.

-Most American (meaning from the American continent) indigenous people speak thei own tongue + the national language (Spanish/Portugese/English/French/Dutch).

-In India most educated people speak their own language + English.

-In China most people speak their own tongue+Mandarin and more and more English as well.

-In Southafrica everybody speaks Afrikaans+English+another language.

So I would say welcome to the real world, where multiculturalism and multiligualism are the norm. Only in very homogenous countries (Japan, Korea), in dictatorships (Franco's Spain) or, errrr, the US, a monolinguistic society is promoted or even accepted as desirable.



Might is right
Freedom? Which freedom?
[ Parent ]

Multilingualism in / and the U.S. (none / 0) (#93)
by Riktov on Wed May 09, 2001 at 11:40:25 PM EST

First of all, help me out in my native language: what does "derrotist" mean?

Not to restate the obvious, but the situation of the United States in regard to foreign languages / multilingualism is very different from every other country in the world, because American English is the dominant global language (kind of like Microsoft Windows). There is simply no reason why most Americans should have to learn another language other than American English, and - let me emphasize, for most Americans - little practical advantage to be gained from learning one. At this point in time, even Spanish is of doubtful value, in my opinion -- at least until it becomes the native tongue of 75% of the U.S. population, and that's still a bit of a ways off.

Conversely, there is huge advantage to be gained by non-Americans (especially if they're also non-European) by becoming fluent in English, or to a lesser degree, any other language.

The pockets of extreme multilingualism such as Switzerland and Belgium are simply cultural / geographical circumstance; they're located right along the Germanic/Romance language border that runs through Europe, and it seems to work out there, as do similar regions like southwest China. But there's no reason any other culture should want or require its people to be fluent in three or more languages.

The Americas and India (and other parts of Asia and Africa) were colonized by Europeans and thus Spanish, English, etc. were basically forced on the native population in past generations.

For many Chinese, Mandarin IS their own tongue. Most of the Hong Kong Cantonese people I know claim only fair fluency in Mandarin (of course they speak good English, but again, that's a colonial legacy). I venture to guess that those non-HK Chinese that speak English are mostly the university-educated minority, whom you are much more likely to see on TV or meet on a visit to Beijing, than the average monolingual peasant.

All of this, of course, has little to do with the main issue of American multilingualism, which is not whether native speakers of American English should learn another language (the problematic "derrotist attitude" you speak of), but whether people who are not fluent in the dominant language of their own country (whether adopted or native) should be accommodated, and to what degree. This issue does not, as far as I know, exist on a significant scale in any other country today. Or rather, in other countries the answer is simply, "No, to no degree at all".


[ Parent ]
One thing missing from this story... (3.00 / 1) (#56)
by Crashnbur on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:19:51 PM EST

There is no mention of what percentage of our whole population that these groups hold.

crash.neotope.com


Census data... (5.00 / 2) (#64)
by ucblockhead on Mon May 07, 2001 at 03:11:43 PM EST

Check the Census Data.

Self-identified Hispanics make up 12.5% of the population (or 38 million people), though confusingly enough, it is not stated (or likely known) how many of these are spanish speakers.

Almost 2/3rds of those are in just five states, Texas, California, Arizona, New York and Florida. In both Texas and California, they make up about a 1/3rd of the population. Politically speaking, it should be noted that the four highest electoral vote states are among those five, and that they make up nearly 1/4th of the House of Representatives.

It also should be noted that the center of the high-tech boom is smack in the center of a fairly Hispanic area of California, and that Texas is also on the forefront of the "new economy".

When you add to that the fact that the Hispanic population is growing at a much faster rate than any other ethic group, it is fairly obvious that they will become an increasingly important group, politically speaking.
-----------------------
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
[ Parent ]

Eh, follow the links (none / 0) (#70)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 04:40:39 PM EST

My link on the relative numbers of African-USians and Hispanics has the number you want.

--em
[ Parent ]

Clarification (4.16 / 6) (#57)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 02:32:45 PM EST

With regards to this post by yankeehack and this post by trhurler:

This piece is I think quite clearly about the president of the US addressing the public in a language other than English-- not about a Republican president doing so. At least that was how it was intended. I really don't care that much about the partisan issues here, but rather the precedent set by a US president by speaking in Spanish.

I was aware when I wrote it that the Democrats also replied in Spanish to the speech, that Bush has used Spanish before as Governor of Texas, and that his sister-in-law is hispanic-- all pointed out by yankeehack. I just decided that they were irrelevant to my point, which is not to support one particular party in the US.

Heck, I don't even *live* in the US. Though much of my family does; I knew about Bush knowing Spanish many years ago, from relatives in Texas. My interest in this has an academic and a personal side, because of the possible influence in linguistic policy issues in the US, which should have a long term effect on family and friends. But I don't participate in US electoral politics.

yankeehack writes:
The overall tone of the article annoys me because the author assumes that Hispanic=Democratic (and that Bush is using his language skills for political pandering).

I do assume he uses his skills for political pandering. Most Hispanics, IIRC, do vote Democratic. If a Democrat president were to speak in Spanish, I would assume the same thing as I do with Bush.

Gee, can't you people shut out party politics out of this for a minute?

--em

Oh? (none / 0) (#79)
by delmoi on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:14:48 PM EST

Where are you from?
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Prop 227. (4.00 / 5) (#65)
by ucblockhead on Mon May 07, 2001 at 03:20:48 PM EST

The description of Prop. 227 is biased and inaccurate.

The original approach that was labled "bilingual education" was to teach children in their native language while simultaneously attempting to teach them English.

Prop. 227 mandated a change whereby non-English speakers were put in intensive english classes, and then mainstreamed into english speaking classes as soon as possible.

Prop. 227 provided provisions for continued instruction in the native language when either (a) learning disabilities hinder english aquisition or (b) a majority of the parents of non-english speakers in a district want traditional "bilingual" instruction.

(I've tried to be unbiased up there. I will show my bias only here: My wife is an elementary school teacher. So far, she's had five non-English speaking children. Not one has spoken Spanish.)

If you want to find an instance of anti-immigrant political maneuvering, Prop 187 is a much better target, but before you read to much into either of those propositions, you need to look at what happened to the Republican party in California after those two measures.
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This is k5. We're all tools - duxup

Utter falsehood. (5.00 / 3) (#69)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 04:28:19 PM EST

Prop. 227 provided provisions for continued instruction in the native language when either (a) learning disabilities hinder english aquisition or (b) a majority of the parents of non-english speakers in a district want traditional "bilingual" instruction.

Point (b) is utterly false. Here's the relevant section from Prop. 227:

ARTICLE 3. Parental Exceptions

310. The requirements of Section 305 may be waived with the prior written informed consent, to be provided annually, of the child's parents or legal guardian under the circumstances specified below and in Section 311. Such informed consent shall require that said parents or legal guardian personally visit the school to apply for the waiver and that they there be provided a full description of the educational materials to be used in the different educational program choices and all the educational opportunities available to the child. Under such parental waiver conditions, children may be transferred to classes where they are taught English and other subjects through bilingual education techniques or other generally recognized educational methodologies permitted by law. Individual schools in which 20 students or more of a given grade level receive a waiver shall be required to offer such a class; otherwise, they must allow the students to transfer to a public school in which such a class is offered.

The copy of Prop. 227 I linked links to some good analysis of this: for instance, the parents of children with limited proeficiency in English are unlikely to speak English themselves, and thus, to be able to effectively petition. Also, no provision is made for transportation of children to other schools-- and the students who are affected are likely to be those whose families would be most strained by this requirement.

Also, there is an interpretation problem in the very last sentence, which I take to be a error, but a very dangerous one. What is the antecedent of "they"? The only possible antecedent within the whole section "individual schools in which 20 students or more of a given grade level receive a waiver". So, Prop. 227, unless you say it has an error, doesn't even require such schools to provide such a class; they can escape the requirement by allowing students to go to some other school. But what if most schools decide to escape this way?

But, furthermore, this provision for a waiver is not absolute-- it is conditioned by Prop. 227 itself:

311. The circumstances in which a parental exception waiver may be granted under Section 310 are as follows:

(a) Children who already know English: the child already possesses good English language skills, as measured by standardized tests of English vocabulary comprehension, reading, and writing, in which the child scores at or above the state average for his grade level or at or above the 5th grade average, whichever is lower;or

(b) Older children: the child is age 10 years or older, and it is the informed belief of the school principal and educational staff that an alternate course of educational study would be better suited to the child's rapid acquisition of basic English language skills;or

(c) Children with special needs: the child already has been placed for a period of not less than thirty days during that school year in an English language classroom and it is subsequently the informed belief of the school principal and educational staff that the child has such special physical, emotional, psychological, or educational needs that an alternate course of educational study would be better suited to the child's overall educational development. A written description of these special needs must be provided and any such decision is to be made subject to the examination and approval of the local school superintendent, under guidelines established by and subject to the review of the local Board of Education and ultimately the State Board of Education. The existence of such special needs shall not compel issuance of a waiver, and the parents shall be fully informed of their right to refuse to agree to a waiver.

Thus, unless their kids test above-average in English, 20 parents can't just go to the school and say that they want their kids to do a bilingual program. The other two options put the power on the school staff. The third one, in particular, requires that a child have already been placed in an English classroom, and be doing badly by the staff's judgement.

--em
[ Parent ]

Interesting interpretation. (none / 0) (#78)
by delmoi on Mon May 07, 2001 at 10:13:40 PM EST

One of the first things I noticed after reading your post was the implication that those speaking Spanish would most likely be poor. I wouldn't disagree with the sentiment, but I find it a little surprising from someone who calls American blacks 'African-Usian' But that's somewhat beside the point. For a linguist I was a little disappointed in your reading comprehension. I know you're a pretty intelligent person, so I have to assume this is bias on your part.

First of all the uncarved blockhead wrote:
Prop. 227 provided provisions for continued instruction in the native language when either (a) learning disabilities hinder english aquisition or (b) a majority of the parents of non-english speakers in a district want traditional "bilingual" instruction.


To which you replied claming that point be was utterly false, and it was, but only in that the law was more lenient. Individuals are handled on a case-by-case basis, and starting a bilingual class only requires 20 or more students in a grade, rather then a majority of other language speaking kids. (I don't know how large the average elementary grade level is in Calli, though). You did miss the obvious loophole, though, in that if every school had up to 19 poor-English-speakers in a region, they could get away without doing jack-shit. I find that highly unlikely, though.

One thing that strikes me about your post is that you assume school administrations are going to do every thing they can to force English. Rather then trying for a balance.

I had another good point to make as well, until I reread section 311 and realized it applied to when wavers would be granted, rather then denied :P One of the downsides of having a non-validating English parser, I guess.

It'll be interesting to see if California ends up pulling a Quebec-style anti-Spanish system. I would laugh.
--
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Nope, I'm still right. (none / 0) (#81)
by Estanislao Martínez on Mon May 07, 2001 at 11:01:05 PM EST

One thing that strikes me about your post is that you assume school administrations are going to do every thing they can to force English. Rather then trying for a balance.

No, I don't assume that they will-- I assume, first of all, that they can. Second, that they may be pressured into forcing English either by outside forces or by the higher-ups in the educational system.

Some school districts, for instance San Francisco, have resisted the implementation of Prop. 227.

I had another good point to make as well, until I reread section 311 and realized it applied to when wavers would be granted, rather then denied :P

Let's look at this again:

The circumstances in which a parental exception waiver may be granted under Section 310 are as follows:
No, it doesn't say "some", it doesn't say "Circumstances" without an article, it says "the". Tee aitch ee. To put it technically (though controversially, but nevermind), definite descriptions have a presupposition of "exhaustiveness" or "maximality": "The biggest set of circumstances under which the waiver may be granted is the one which includes only the folllowing conditions."

It'll be interesting to see if California ends up pulling a Quebec-style anti-Spanish system. I would laugh.

This is either a grossly uninformed or grossly deceptive remark (depending on whether you are uninformed or deceptive). Québec, first of all, has obligatory education in two languages. Second, it guarantees that education is conducted primarily in English for the native Anglophone community (800,000 strong). Québec has universities that teach primarily in English (e.g. Concordia and McGill). The Québec government runs 12-18 (can't remember precisely) hospitals which provide service primarily in English. That is, despite the institutionalized preference for French, Québec runs some of the most extensive bilingual services in the world. The natural counterpoint to this would be Ottawa, which has 500,000 native French speakers, yet no French education, and wants to close down the only bilingual hospital.

--em
[ Parent ]

it would be nice if he mastered english first (2.00 / 2) (#67)
by tralfamadore on Mon May 07, 2001 at 04:14:49 PM EST

"nucular" geez, i'm willing to overlook his past grammar flubs, but "nucular" twice in one speech? nope.

Language is an art form (4.00 / 1) (#83)
by SerpentMage on Tue May 08, 2001 at 03:52:28 AM EST

When I started public speaking I thought that everyone could understand me. I never paid attention to how I speak, but the reality is very different. Sometimes I wish Bush would pay attention to how he expresses himself.

My sister lives in Ecuador and she is very fluent in Spanish. Her opinion is she wishes he would stop speaking Spanish. Many people in South America think it is nice that he speaks Spanish, but he bastardizes Spanish.

He should really work on his accent and grammer. I think if he does not he will not survive a re-election. Remember great presidents have a silver tongue. (RR, Client, JFK, etc)

He does it poorly in English! (none / 0) (#91)
by JonesBoy on Wed May 09, 2001 at 07:59:58 AM EST

I wish he would improve his expressions in English first! This is the guy that reffered to his adopted hispanic nephews as "the little brown ones over there". and thats only one of his many faux-fas.


Speeding never killed anyone. Stopping did.
[ Parent ]
Jeez, quit sniping (3.00 / 1) (#84)
by bjrubble on Tue May 08, 2001 at 05:23:20 AM EST

Bush giving addresses in Spanish legitimizes Spanish. All the people who look down on Spanish speakers -- well, those who are informed enough to learn about this, at any rate -- will have another small reason to pause the next time they start to make that judgement. I may consider it a silver lining in a very dark cloud, but Bush is combating bigotry and cultural divisiveness and should be applauded for it.

pro - "mexican" policy change (none / 0) (#85)
by kod on Tue May 08, 2001 at 09:42:53 AM EST

Nice to see the administration has changed their ways . . . used to be, dubya wouldnt take questions "in french, nor in english, nor in mexican"

Then again, maybe he'll talk "mexican", just not listen to it . . .

I'm non-native English, in California (none / 0) (#96)
by strlen on Tue May 15, 2001 at 07:51:14 PM EST

My native language is Russian. It was suggested to my parents that I be put into an English-Second-Language class (I've only had one school year of English in Russia. I was 11 back then). When I just came I had just enough English to use a computer. I quickly learned, and in three months I virtualy had no problems. By summer, I considered myself fluent and have surpassed college-level English training given to my parents in prestigious Russian universities. By next school year I was in a normal curicullum class. (I started school in February or early in March, I believe when I came to the United States. So by September I was certified as an official English speaker).

I think bilingual education is impractical. English intensive education is what's needed. My class was made up of Koreans, Chinese (Taiwanese (Mandarin), Cantonese, Mainland), Japanese, Vietnamese, Russians, Iranian, Hispanic. And a generic, scientifically devised way of teaching English (through an emersion/pictorial/simple explanation) is the way to go. Mathematics was taught with normal students, according to the students knowledge level. English was taught according to students knowledge level, through learning classes. Other classes used simplified materials. It worked for me, it worked for others. However, it did have a bit slower speed with non-European language speakers (where there's no common roots with English, such as Chinese/Koreans/Japanese). Other students also chose to bypass the system, and went straight into normal curicullum classes. One of them had success, although he faced hostility from teachers (for not going along with an expected choice) and had intensive English-training (through an elite, public but pay-for, school back in Russia).

Bilingual education is also cruel. You're helping to create a helpless minority, unable to communicate, open to victimization, segregated, because you're not giving them the tool to communicated with others. And that will require twice as much of tax payer money, and even if it was "equal but separate" (as it was not the case in race based discrimination), quality of both would be very low.



--
[T]he strongest man in the world is he who stands most alone. - Henrik Ibsen.
Bush gives bilingual presidential address; precedent for a multilingual US? | 96 comments (72 topical, 24 editorial, 0 hidden)
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