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[P]
Don't Fear Their Spanish

By adimovk5 in Op-Ed
Mon May 31, 2004 at 10:55:25 AM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Many people in the United states view Spanish speaking people as a menace who must be controlled. They insist that people must be prevented from speaking other than English. I have a different view.


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"CRISIS"

The influx of large numbers of Spanish speaking people into the United States is often treated as a crisis of epic proportions. People who worry about the situation produce reams of data to back up their assumptions. They point to rising immigration. They point to high birth rates. They're armed with anecdotes that have left them bitter. Most of all, they fear a world in which they are in the same situation as the immigrants. They fear a world in which they can't communicate to have their needs met. They fear the balkanization of the country.

The typical solution offered is to make English the official language. Would that solve the problem? It wouldn't prevent the immigrants from using Spanish. To accomplish that, we'd have to require only English to conduct business. What would that do? Spanish speakers with poor English skills would be forced into unemployment or low wage jobs or even into illegal activities. We could avoid that by requiring English fluency prior to immigration into the country. Immigration would then be almost impossible for hardworking poor people who just want a better life.

IMMERSION

There are better solutions. One of these is English immersion. Upon acceptance into the country, every immigrant should be required to complete an English immersion course. In such an English immersion program, the immigrant is taught English and only English. Along with the immersion course, adults should be taught American history. Children should be taught the immersion course and then sent on to school. Only upon completion of the immersion course and the American history course should permanent residence be granted. Until then, a temporary residence should be granted.

Immersion programs are not the same as English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. ESL programs continue to teach in the immigrant's native language and slows the absorption of English. Immersion programs teach almost entirely in English.

Costs of the program should be borne by the taxpayer. In return, the taxpayer receives an immigrant who speaks at least functional English from the beginning of his residence. Cost savings should result from the reduced need for translators and official documents in a foreign language. Immersion would increase the speed at which immigrants integrate. It would be a benefit enjoyed by the entire society.

ABSORPTION

Even without immersion, immigrants are absorbed into the culture. The first generation always has the most trouble. Languages are easily learned while young. Picking up new languages is more difficult for older children and very difficult for mature adults. There is also the matter of culture. Much of language is composed of ideas and references that elude foreigners. However, the second generation has fewer problems. Born in America, they absorb the sounds, language and culture with ease. Since their parents are immigrants, they learn two cultures. This leaves them a little out of sync, but they find it easier to live in their parents adopted homeland. The third generation is usually fully in sync with society. In fact, the third generation tends to have trouble understanding and relating to its grandparents.

SPANISH

Spanish speaking people form the largest number of non-English speaking people in the United States. From the information in the 1990 census, a Hispanic Origin map was created to show their distribution in the United States. The total population was only 9% of the overall population but heavily concentrated in the Southwest and in southern Florida as high as 60%. Cities such as New York and Chicago also have large concentrations. Their percentage of the population is growing due to high Hispanic birthrates and immigration from Latin America.

In light of this fact, in addition to English immersion, American students should be required to learn Spanish before graduating. Learning Spanish would greatly benefit all American students. They would be able to interact with the Spanish speaking population of the US who form the fifth largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, after Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Colombia. They would also gain access to the 392 million people in more than 40 countries who speak Spanish. Almost all of South and Central America speaks Spanish. American students would have the advantage of knowing the second and fourth most commonly spoken languages in the world and the two most widely distributed.

OTHER LANGUAGES

Language diversity has always been with us. We have German speakers in Texas and Pennsylvania. We have French speakers in Louisiana. We have Hawaiian speakers in Hawaii. There have been large foreign enclaves in the US in the past:

In the 1890 census there were 4.5 times as many non-English speakers, proportionally speaking, than in the 1990 census (despite its superior ability to count such groups). A century ago there were sizable enclaves in the Southwest, Louisiana, the upper Midwest, and New England, where colonial, immigrant, and indigenous languages predominated - far larger than their counterparts today.

1890 link

OPPORTUNITY

The large number of Spanish speakers in the United States is not a crisis to be averted. It is an opportunity to be met. We should help Spanish speakers to assimilate and in turn use them as a bridge into the Spanish speaking world.

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Poll
Should all US students learn Spanish?
o No. English Only 8%
o No. Make it available as an option. 19%
o No. But they should learn a 2nd language. 47%
o No opinion./Don't Care. 4%
o Yes. Encourage all to learn. 11%
o Yes. Make it mandatory. 9%

Votes: 121
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o balkanizat ion
o English immersion
o Costs
o Hispanic Origin map
o fifth largest Spanish-speaking population in the world, after Mexico, Spain, Argentina and Colombia
o 392 million people in more than 40 countries
o second and fourth most commonly spoken languages
o Language diversity has always been with us
o 1890 link
o Also by adimovk5


Display: Sort:
Don't Fear Their Spanish | 373 comments (331 topical, 42 editorial, 0 hidden)
Many? (2.54 / 11) (#6)
by Work on Sat May 29, 2004 at 02:27:21 AM EST

who, exactly, besides racist right-wing idiots like pat buchanan?

I don't think ive ever heard anyone who wasnt of the small far-right wing racist type who's ever even brought up such nonsense.

a k5er (none / 3) (#8)
by skelter on Sat May 29, 2004 at 04:23:01 AM EST

recently submitted a story to the queue that, while trying to avoid being blatantly racist, painted comical pictures of spanish-only speaking service providers saying he should learn some spanish.

[ Parent ]
these people (none / 3) (#55)
by Work on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:34:29 AM EST

are known as 'trolls'. Currently, k5 is 90% troll, 10% apathetic people who wonder why they continue to return.

[ Parent ]
I have an idea. (2.00 / 10) (#7)
by Kasreyn on Sat May 29, 2004 at 04:20:24 AM EST

How about we let capitalism take its course?

As in to say, businesses can refuse service to random assholes who move to a country without fucking bothering to learn the language.

And customers can refuse to patronize businesses that don't cater to them. I hear they can also refuse to patronize businesses that don't give them free massages and blowjobs, too.

If America is the melting pot, English is the sauce.

Note that I speak as a student of the Spanish language and a man who works daily with Honduran and Cuban and Colombian immigrants who are my dear friends. But they are all diligent, earnest types who have bent over backwards trying to learn English, rather than whining that we need to bend over backwards for *them*.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
refusing service (none / 3) (#17)
by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:58:20 AM EST

businesses can refuse service to random assholes who move to a country without fucking bothering to learn the language

Do we also allow police, firemen, and other emergency workers to refuse service because a person can't speak English? Requiring a person to learn English to enter aids others as much as it aids the person. And no immigrant would be able to claim that he can't speak English. He could still refuse to use English...... but that's a separate problem.

Your friends are the very people I'd like to help. They'll still need your services but immersion would ease their way in.

[ Parent ]

No problems whatsoever with immersion (none / 3) (#42)
by Kasreyn on Sat May 29, 2004 at 07:32:50 PM EST

what gets me is unimportant (in terms of survival) businesses, like McDonalds', having all their signage duplicated in Spanish. Police stations, 911 lines, these I can understand, though I still wish people would at least make a good-faith effort to learn the lingua franca of wherever they're moving.

Not that any of this matters, actually. In a few years electronic paper or some such invention will replace all physical signage, and then the sign can scroll automatically through several regionally popular tongues, with a control to change it to even more esoteric ones.

I'm all in favor of the immersion program. I've been dancing around the idea of an official language for years. The only reason I'm not for it is that I recognize English as being one of the most fiendish and bass-ackwards languages in the world, linguistically speaking. :P Seems awfully unkind to cram our silliness down everyone else's throats.

And at the same time, I feel saddened that so much of American culture and history is not really translatable into, say, Spanish. Forget for a moment that modern english-speaking American culture is turning into mindless plastic-packaged pap. Let's talk about the more highbrow aspects of it. They don't translate well, and I feel these two cultures are never going to assimilate. Instead, a third culture, a hybrid, will emerge. This would be fine with me, but it seems like that hybrid is going to come unequipped with any sense of the cultural history of EITHER of its predecessors, with all the likelihood of repeating horrible mistakes of the past that that entails.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
English (2.50 / 6) (#50)
by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 10:28:39 PM EST

Economic Darwinism. I don't mind private businesses putting up signs in other languages. They're trying to make a dollar and attract customers. I do have a problem with government agencies being forced to adapt to immigrants instead of the reverse. I have to pay taxes for all those translators and extra documents. I think my money could be better spent.

Official English. I don't want English to be the official language of the United States. I want the language to remain flexible. Official English conjures up images of bureaucrats creating Official Grammers and Official Dictionaries with Official Spellings.

Why English is difficult. English is difficult to master because it breaks rules. It readily picks up words and structures from other languages. That's one of the reasons why there are so many synonyms and exceptions. English has taken words from just about every language in the world.

Modern English is a remarkably resilent language. It absorbs other tongues without changing its overall charcter. It's flexible, forming new words out of older ones. Sometimes it borrows roots. Sometimes it borrows affixes. Sometimes it forms compounds. Sometimes it mixes all of the above. It is good at satisfying the need to form new words and concepts. Many other modern languages use English words or derivatives to describe concepts.

Why there will be no hybrid. Instead of English and Spanish merging into a hybrid, I expect English to absorb Spanish. Already American Spanish is diverging from its roots. American English will absorb parts of it and cast other parts away. I expect to see a lot of Spanish words to enter the language, a few idioms, and an occasional piece of grammer. English uses many words with Spanish origins. In fact, some scholars say Spanish has contributed 10,000 words to English.

All language enclaves in the United States experience this behavior. The enclave language gets picked up into the regional dialect first then transfers to the national tongue. Modern technology has increased the speed of this effect.

Mindless Culture. As for the culture to crap ratio, every society produces very little high culture compared to the crap it produces. When we view "golden ages" of culture, we forget all the garbage that was thrown into the dustbin of history. There is as much value being produced in the US as in any society. However, we may be too close to it to see.



[ Parent ]

Breaking language rules (none / 3) (#72)
by Kuranes on Sun May 30, 2004 at 06:07:04 AM EST

You would think it was funny, but it is one of the eternal paradoxes of linguistics that, by definiton, every grammar rule has an exception.
Karel van het Reve, the famous Dutch linguist, literature scientist and Popperian criticist of psychoanalysis and deconstruction, has formulated the logic of rule and its exception in the guise of what he ironically calls "Reve's Conjecture": in the domain of symbolic rule, Popper's logic of falsification has to be inverted - that is to say, far from falsifying the rule, the exception one has to search for confirms it. Besides enumerating examples from a multitude of symbolic, rule-regulated activities (in chess, we have rochade as the exception, a move that violates the fundamental logic of other possible moves; in card games, there is often an exceptional lower combination that can overrule the highest one; etc.), Reve focuses on linguistics: in grammar, a particular exception is needed in order to reveal (and thus make us sensitive to) the universal rule that we otherwise follow: "A rule cannot exist if there is no exception against which it can distinguish itself" [Karel van het Reve, "Reves Vermutung], in Dr Freud and Sherlock Holmes, Hamburg: Fischer Verlag, 1994, pp. 140-151]
--------------------------- Slavoj Žižek, The Ticklish Subject, London, New York: Verso, 1999

Otherwise, English Grammar is simple compared to other languages: There is almost no conjugation or declination except for the occasionally added "s". The tenses are a little more complicated, but for a little bit of communication you normally don't need them.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
rules (none / 2) (#85)
by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:21:01 AM EST

That's interesting. If nothing breaks a rule, we don't need the rule.

The thing that keeps English from being simple is all the almost things. For some unknown reason, old forms persist in strange places. I've also noticed a divergence between what I call College English and Common English in America. College English is the educated college taught version. Common English is the version found on television, radio, and in the streets. Many of the disfunctional grammer rules seem to be dropping from the common version. Sometimes the things young adults say to me sound a little strange but I can easily understand what they mean because it still follows rules. They're just not the forms I was taught.

[ Parent ]

Should I close this pot vs. kettle argument? (2.60 / 5) (#93)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun May 30, 2004 at 11:02:29 AM EST

Jesus, one of you is quoting Wikipedia, and the other Zizek.  Are you trying to beat each other at being utterly unconvincing?

The phonology of English is neither too complicated nor too easy.  Inflectional morphology is mostly minimal, but poses the typical problem of any language (wtf do you use which tense/aspect form).  Its syntax is pretty normal, and poses the typical problems (prepositions are always hell, so are articles). A lot of the vocab is pretty international; another lot of it is quirky.  Pretty average, as far as languages go.

The orthography is GOD FUCKING AWFUL, of course.

--em
[ Parent ]

English orthography (none / 2) (#186)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:48:27 PM EST

What's your criterion for a good orthography, that it be phonetic, not etymological? Why does that make it good?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Phonetic orthography is easier. (none / 1) (#219)
by i on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 03:22:34 AM EST

Write what you hear, say what you read, don't waste time learning stuff that was hot five centuries ago. Doh!

and we have a contradicton according to our assumptions and the factor theorem

[ Parent ]
counterpoint: (none / 2) (#236)
by Battle Troll on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 03:44:51 PM EST

When the Communists began to simplify Chinese script, they stripped out many of the nuances in character construction that showed the etymology of the words they represented. My Chinese friends tell me that Simplified Chinese may be slightly easier to learn, but is fundamentally more cumbersome to read for educated speakers.

Not to mention that, if the spelling changes whenever the pronunciation changes, you have to revise the entire language every few hundred years. Korean is just beginning to grapple with this problem. If, eg, Russian were made purely phonetic, it would muddy the connections to Slavonic and to the Western Slavic languages.

I'd say there's two sides to the story, at least.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

No, there's three sides. (none / 1) (#362)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:25:56 AM EST

There's pronunciation, etymology and morphology (the last two aren't strictly orthogonal, but they're still not the same thing).  You can't in general be faithful to all three.

As an example of what's the problem with morphology, an orthography that gets the pronunciations of invite and invitation right will partly obscure the fact that one is a derived lexeme from the other.

--em
[ Parent ]

good, finally someone who knows something (none / 1) (#366)
by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 09:43:43 AM EST

Thank you, that's a very good point.

This is why I have a soft spot for Romanian orthography: it visually distinguishes key homonymns (like mai the month and ma-i meaning "to me;") by adopting the intelligent Italian convention of making 'c' and 'g' do double duty, it partly covers the morphological bases (for instance, for a faci, the first-person present indicative is fac with a hard 'c;') and it recognizes that the pronunciation of the letter â needed to have simple rules for where it takes an etymologic î : for example, the last syllable of Român is pronounced the same way as the i in î, but they are clearly visually distinct, representing their origins as separate vowel sound in Latin.

If such an epically fucked-up country can have such a cool orthography, maybe there's hope for us all.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

correction: (none / 1) (#367)
by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 09:44:51 AM EST

'as the î in în.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Phonetics (none / 0) (#254)
by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 09:05:21 PM EST

While phonetics might make it easier to describe the way a language is spoken in a region at a given time, it becomes cumbersome as an alphabet.

Take English for example. It is used across the globe. People in each country speak English different phonetically. However, they write English in an almost identical fashion. There are differences such as "color/colour" and "theater/theatre" but for the most part the written language is held in common. If English were written as spoken in every country, its usefullness as a global language would be damaged.

Arabic is another fine example. Due to geographic separation, Arabic is splintering. The spoken dialects have diverged to the point where some dialects cannot be understood be speakers of other dialects. However, written arabic is still pretty much the same across the whole Arab world.

A fixed written form also spans time easier. English speakers can understand written Middle English far easier than spoken Middle English.



[ Parent ]

orthography (none / 0) (#205)
by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 09:49:54 PM EST

English orthography is awful because technically the orthography isn't English in origin. English is a kleptolanguage. It steals words from other languages. After the great vowel shift, it even stole some words from itself. After that, it took words from Latin, Greek, French, Swahili, Arabic, Chinese, and just about every other language in the world.

Very few words are brought into English phonetically.

[ Parent ]

No. (none / 0) (#361)
by Estanislao Martínez on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 02:22:07 AM EST

English orthography is awful because it was standardized right before a major vowel shift.

--em
[ Parent ]

finally the only good answer (none / 0) (#365)
by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 09:36:06 AM EST

Thank you Mr. Martinez.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
Good point about the culture. (none / 1) (#126)
by Kasreyn on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:57:39 PM EST

I suppose perhaps I should merely look harder.

Re: the hybrid, I hadn't thought of it that way. Of course, seeing as how at this rate English speakers will be a minority in this nation by the time I die, are you so sure it won't be Spanish swallowing English? ;-)


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
History of English (none / 2) (#154)
by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:10:58 AM EST

you make it sound arbitrary like, "Oh look what English did yesterday" but, the changes have happened over hundreds of years, and for reasons, and it has indeed changed.  Old English is very different from Modern English. You say it's resilient to exposure from new languages but in fact most languages are, they borrow new words for things the language didn't have, but that's it; English isn't special in that regard.  If you haven't already look up a history of the language, it's worth having it laid out in the large.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
not special just better ..... 8) (none / 1) (#162)
by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 10:02:50 AM EST

I have indeed studied the history of English. I'm not an expert. However, I am familiar with the development of English from its Germanic roots through Old English, Middle English, and Modern English. I'm aware of the influences of the Vikings, the Celts, the French, Arabic, Latin and Greek. I'm also aware that American English is a dialect of Modern English and well on its ways to become a separate branch.

American English has picked up many Spanish and Native words. It is also heavily influenced by American culture, which is very vibrant and diverse.

I don't think English is the only language that adapts or that it is the only language that forms new words readily. I think it's special in that it uses so many different ways of forming new words at the same time.

The list below includes many different structural word formation types, including novel derivations, clippings, back formations, and compounding processes of various sorts. The words also exemplify a wide range of semantic/pragmatic phenomena such as metaphor, metonymy, euphemism, and eponymy.

new words list
A through E
F through N
O through Z

The words on this page give a good picture of the creative aspects of word formation and use in present day English. Speakers do not confine themselves to existing, conventional units when using language; to express their exact meaning in a given context, they take advantage of the wide range of creative resources provided by their language. Many of these creations become more frequent and conventionalized over time. Looking at new words allows us to get a glimpse of lexical change in progress.

Other languages form new words but not as readily or simply as English. It may be my cultural bias speaking but I think Chinese doesn't form new words as well as English. Unfortunately, I don't know any good way of summarizing this article without butchering it. It shows that Chinese and English do share many features when it comes to word building.



[ Parent ]

You're a one-man encyclopedia :) (none / 3) (#166)
by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:07:44 PM EST

I'm also aware that American English is a dialect of Modern English and well on its way to become a separate branch.

Eh? This is news to me.  

Other languages form new words but not as readily or simply as English. It may be my cultural bias speaking but I think Chinese doesn't form new words as well as English.

I too am an amateur (of course) but I'd agree that English probably forms words more easily than Chinese - after all it has rules for transforming words where Chinese doesn't (actually that link on Chinese word formation weakens my case, but I don't think those suffixes/affixes form new words), though both can concatenate existing words.  However, I think any Indo-European language can do the same;  certainly Germanic ones.  

As for English being better, I too am an English bigot but I keep it to myself since I can't point to any justification for it.  One thing there is, at least wrt other IE languages is that at least English doesn't force people to learn male and female versions of nouns.  I can't believe such a ridiculous thing has survived so long, in so many languages.  Another possible reason is that English has picked up so many words that they've absorbed different nuances, probably more than other, 'purer' languages, giving it nice expressive power.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

Male/Femal versions of words (none / 1) (#168)
by thankyougustad on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:18:19 PM EST

These constructs allow us to form different kinds of sentences than in English, reliyng heavily on context and varaiable sentence constructions that otherwise might not be clear.
All adjectives have to agree with the sex of the nouns, which gives speakers of Romance languages a way of not repeating the noun in sentances, by just saying the adjective and making it agree.
Also, Romance languages, like Latin, can form sentances in a wide variety of ways, placing adjectives after nouns, nouns at the end of sentences, verbs far away from the subject, etc. The sexes are what allow these kinds of sentences to be clear.
A common complain is that they are hard for foreigners to learn. It seems that any second language is difficult and it's the little linguistic idiosyncracies that make them so unique and a pleasure to learn and speak.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Latin (none / 1) (#191)
by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 05:09:10 PM EST

The sexes are what allow these kinds of sentences to be clear.

My knowledge is very thin but are you sure it's gender (sex) that allows position to be flexible?  I thought (going by Latin) that it was that the part the word plays (subject, object, blah blah) is reflected in the form of the word itself, making position irrelevant.

I haven't learned any language with gendered nouns so I'll have to take your word that it's useful though the idea still puts me off but I will admit that much English construction is over complicated too;  I had an Italian teacher who'd simplify the grammar (he'd lose things that required 'lookahead', I wish I could remember an example) and the thing was, he was always still clear and his speech style felt decadently easy.  Well that's a sign that some constructions are unnecessarily painful.  So I certainly wouldn't say English is perfect.  Maybe over the coming decades it'll get some more rough edges worn off; that's happened before in its history.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]

Sex, among others (none / 0) (#256)
by thankyougustad on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 09:16:28 PM EST

Latin has even more pre and affixes than say, French, but the idea is the same. Since all the words are affected by each other (the adjective always affected by the noun, and sometimes by the tense of the verb) and relate to each other, sentence structure is variable. Apparently, Latin is even more complicated than modern Romance languages. The people that speak what later became the vulgar Romance languages seem to have dropped some of the agreements, while keeping others.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
just different (none / 0) (#259)
by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 10:47:47 PM EST

I don't think Latin is any more complicated than French. It's just complicated in different ways. Some things are simpler. Some things are more complicated. In the end, I think it all evens out.

Take pronouns for instance. In Latin they aren't used often. When used it tends to be for emphasis. Instead the verb contains the idea.

Amo = I love
Amas = You love
Amat = He loves
Latin is simpler here.

In grammer, every time you simplify in one place you must complicate in another.

[ Parent ]

Agreed (none / 0) (#260)
by thankyougustad on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 10:59:27 PM EST

Sorry if I came across as saying Latin was inherintly more complicated than French, I didn't mean that. However, as far as I know (everything I know about Latin grammar is hearsay) in terms of sexs and agreements Latin is more. . . profound than French. While French has adjectives that agree with sex and number of subject nouns, and sometimes tense, I think Latin has adjectives and subjects all agreeing with eachother in the context of a complex network of tenses and moods.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
genders are easy if..... (none / 0) (#200)
by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 08:44:45 PM EST

A common complain is that they are hard for foreigners to learn.

When I was learning French, my teacher was very clear on this point. "You will have no trouble with gender if you learn the gender as an integral part of the word." Therefore the word for book was not "livre", the word is "le livre". It is a lesson I pass on to anyone I know who is attempting a gender inclusive language.

In the case of Latin, which I learned later. I always imagined the words as people. I rarely had trouble.



[ Parent ]

you have no imagination (none / 2) (#185)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:45:54 PM EST

One thing there is, at least wrt other IE languages is that at least English doesn't force people to learn male and female versions of nouns.

Every language has baggage that's transparent to native speakers. It's no harder to speak for a native speaker to speak Russian or Romanian properly than it is for a native English speaker to speak proper English. Personally, I can't believe that English has over a dozen tense auxilliaries, or that you can have adjacent identical words that are actually different parts of speech: he had had more, she knew that that was it. I can't believe that English verbs barely conjugate at all; English speakers usually have a wretched time communicating time (ugh, by the way.)

Frankly, if you think noun classes inhibit the learning of languages, I'd love to hear your explanation of how millions of Africans can't learn Swahili.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

'Every language has baggage' (none / 0) (#192)
by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 05:22:33 PM EST

Yes no doubt.  People are always trying to come up with perfect ones eg lojban, I was just expressing how that one thing appeared to my English-bred taste.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
hmm (none / 1) (#195)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 08:05:09 PM EST

I was just expressing how that one thing appeared to my English-bred taste.

So long as you understand that your subjective taste doesn't strongly correlate with the objective relative difficulty of learning a language, for a native English speaker, we're cool.

perfect ones eg lojban

lojban is an atrocity. The guys who designed it thought they were too smart to have to bother learning anything about either logic or languages before putting that beast together.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Gendered nouns (none / 1) (#204)
by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 09:43:35 PM EST

if you were designing a language, would you put gendered nouns in?  Is it useful enough that you'd want it in if you had a choice?
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
based on what I've seen of conlang, (none / 2) (#207)
by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 10:17:40 PM EST

if you were designing a language, would you put gendered nouns in?

History and society do it better than I could, I'm sure.

Anyway, nouns don't have genders so much as they have declension categories. In most modern Romance languages, noun gender is kind of an appendix, but in Romanian, it is more useful than not (because, as you learn the correct nominative plural, dative singular, etc. for some noun, you learn the associated suffixes, which convey a mix of gender, case, and plurality information.) It's hard to explain, but if you don't have those endings, you'd have to drag in a lot more syllables in order to have reasonable word endings of a reasonable length (say, like if you had one suffix for plurality, a further one for case, and a final one for gender.)
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Interestingly, I believe Old English (none / 0) (#213)
by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 11:57:29 PM EST

was like that. Why it was lost or dropped I don't know.
--
"If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
[ Parent ]
Old English (none / 2) (#225)
by thankyougustad on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 10:25:17 AM EST

Had as many noun cases as Modern German (three), more tenses, more endings, more plural forms, and was generally more of a headache. They were probably lost the way a lot of the Anglo-Saxon vestiges in English were lost, as people began speaking more simply. A lot of the verbs we use today 'regularly' were irregular 400 years ago.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
I challenge you to defend this statement: (none / 0) (#235)
by Battle Troll on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 03:41:31 PM EST

[Old English] was generally more of a headache [than Modern English.]

While it may be harder for modern scholars, was it more difficult for native speakers?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

probably not (none / 0) (#239)
by thankyougustad on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 06:06:11 PM EST

But, there is a reason that all those inclinations were dropped; they were complicated, and people stopped using them.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
contact with Normans etc. (none / 1) (#245)
by gzt on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 07:58:44 PM EST

It was from contact with Romance languages, not from any intrinsic difficulty. If it had been isolated, like its cousin Icelandic, it would not have changed much. It's just what happens to creoles.

[ Parent ]
well... (none / 0) (#247)
by gzt on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 08:04:13 PM EST

...contact with other languages in general. One can't forget the constant Scandinavian influence on the development of Middle English.

[ Parent ]
Partly true (as far as I know) (none / 0) (#255)
by thankyougustad on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 09:10:46 PM EST

Even today English is being simplified. The vestiges of Anglo-Saxon are dissapearing in certain cases. Irregular verbs are simplified, and become common usage. Sweeped or swept? Sewed or sewn?
And don't forget children. 'My teethes got hurted' is possible sentence, as children attempt to apply the rules they've learned to every situation. Higher education does a lot to fix these simplifications, but on the streets they are rampant.
Having said that, English has definatly been morphed by its contact with all of the other languages around it, no doubt about that.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
thank the Normans (none / 0) (#261)
by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 11:08:28 PM EST

It was the arrival of the Norman invasion that changed the course of English. Norman was a cross between Scandanavian and French. The Normans had left Scandanavia and conquered that part of France known as Normandy. In 1066, they invaded England. This resulted in the imposing of a hybrid language (French plus Scandanavian) on top of the existing hybrid. Old English was a Germanic language imposed on a Celtic language.

In 1204, the Normans lost Normandy and became more concerned with England. The rulers became more and more English, including their language. By the start of the Renaissance the transformation was complete and Modern English begins.

The age of Norman influence is what we call Middle English.



[ Parent ]

Didja know... (none / 1) (#264)
by gzt on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 10:59:54 AM EST

...those so-called irregular verbs were once regular? I mean, those roots cited weren't the same at all in Old English, of course, but those sorts of morphological changes were quite regular and not complex at all. This is part of why it makes little sense to claim English is simpler than Old English: contact with other languages changed some things and not others, leading to long lists of irregularities which can only be explained by knowing the history of the word. I can see claiming that some things are simpler now than 100 years ago and may be simpler in another 50 years, but don't try to claim things about the entire language 1000 years ago.

[ Parent ]
Results of chaotic usage (none / 1) (#266)
by thankyougustad on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 12:30:20 PM EST

I don't say that English today is easier than it was 1,000 years ago, but everything I've learned indicates that it is simpler, in general. Something I was told a long time ago by an old Linguist is that languages just naturally streamline themselves over the generations.
No doubt that modern English is a Mongral language, drawing on almost every language that it ever had contact with for its words. Don't forget another reason why it's the way it is today: 18th century kooks who tried to apply Latin gramatical rules to a Germanic language.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
ugh (none / 0) (#277)
by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 09:05:05 PM EST

Something I was told a long time ago by an old Linguist is that languages just naturally streamline themselves over the generations.

He sounds like a fool to me, because all languages are equally old (unless you want to hypothesize multiple origins of languages?)
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Who knows? (none / 0) (#282)
by thankyougustad on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 12:30:57 AM EST

You're hypothesizing that there is a common origin of languages. I can't say either way.

Also are you really trying to say French has been around since people came down from the trees in Africa? We have no idea even how long language as a concept has been around. It's a really fascinating idea, but no one can give any evidence supporting or debunking the common language origin theory. . . so. . . seems pointless to speculate.

What we do know is that English as we speak (write) it seems to have come about in the 16th century, and that over the centuries we have dropped certain constructions that were common when Shakespeare was writing. Can anyone give any examples of constructions we have added?

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
you don't get it (none / 0) (#296)
by Battle Troll on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 01:36:24 PM EST

Also are you really trying to say French has been around since people came down from the trees in Africa?

Modern French isn't a 'new language.' It's a descendant of the langue d'oïl, which is itself descended from vulgar Latin, classical Latin, some sort of old Italic, PIE, and God only knows what before that. Meanwhile, modern Russian is descended from some sort of old Russian that was partly influenced by Church Slavonic and Old Ruthenian (Rusyn,) which itself broke with Western Slavic sometime between the 6th and 11th centuries, and so on back to PIE and God only knows what before that. Russian retains three noun genders and a passel of cases. French has a much more complex verb system (there are only three verb times in Russian.) Both are as 'old' as English, which also traces its roots to PIE, but possess far greater grammatical complexity. So much for your thesis.

What we do know is that English as we speak (write) it seems to have come about in the 16th century, and that over the centuries we have dropped certain constructions that were common when Shakespeare was writing.

I can't decide whether this is supposed to be a joke, but how about all the constructions and idioms borrowed from European languages?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

So you say (none / 0) (#301)
by thankyougustad on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:29:49 PM EST

Modern French isn't a 'new language.' It's a descendant of the langue d'oïl, which is itself descended from vulgar Latin, classical Latin, some sort of old Italic, PIE, and God only knows what before that. Meanwhile, modern Russian is descended from some sort of old Russian that was partly influenced by Church Slavonic and Old Ruthenian (Rusyn,) which itself broke with Western Slavic sometime between the 6th and 11th centuries, and so on back to PIE and God only knows what before that. Russian retains three noun genders and a passel of cases. French has a much more complex verb system (there are only three verb times in Russian.) Both are as 'old' as English, which also traces its roots to PIE, but possess far greater grammatical complexity. So much for your thesis.

What thesis? That the French and English I speak aren't as old as the hills? Are you seriously suggesting that Modern French is the same as La langue d'oil or even Latin?

Assuming I accept this bizzare assertation, even you must admit that we have to draw lines somewhere delineating linguistic limits. . . that is. . . this language is called Spanish, this one is called French, and this one is called English.

I understand that, for instance, all the Romance Languages come from Latin, and Latin from the so called Indo-Europeans, but that doesn't make them ageless languages.

Modern French is new because people weren't speaking Modern French in the times of Charlamagne. Around Paris they spoke what we refer to as la langue d'oil and in the south they spoke la langue d'oc and so on. What we call French has a time and a place, and fits in a context; it is not ageless and you cannot claim that just because it has roots somewhere it is not a unique and viable language on its own. It is true, as you state that it did not just 'pop' up somwhere, please don't misunderstand me.

Also, since we don't know anything about Indo-European, what are you claims that Russian and French are much more complex grammatically based on?

I can't decide whether this is supposed to be a joke, but how about all the constructions and idioms borrowed from European languages? Like 'A rolling stone gathers no moss?' An idiom is not a grammatical construct.

I'm not sure what constructions you mean. The Latin S plural? I asked you to name any if you could think of them. I'm not saying they don't exist, I just can't think of any, and would really like to know.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
the point is (none / 0) (#302)
by Battle Troll on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:48:46 PM EST

It's difficult to draw boxes around languages. Is Byelorussian a dialect of Russian or an independent language? A hundred years ago, most linguists would have said it was independent. But today they are growing much closer together.

All languages come from earlier languages. Your old linguist's thesis - that languages grow simpler over time - implies that early languages were much more complex than modern languages, and I don't think that's viable. From what we know of Old Egyptian, it doesn't appear to have been more grammatically complex than modern Arabic. From what we know of medieval Chinese, modern Chinese appears to be more complicated (tones seem to have come into Chinese only as a result of cultural contact between China and the Indochinese nations.) But even in the abstract, that thesis is untenable.

French, English, and Russian are all descended from PIE, yet French and Russian have a more academically complex grammer. Students learning English don't have to spend agonizing hours learning ten spoken tenses and five literary tenses, or memorizing the genders of thousands of nouns. By your linguist's thesis, then, English should be younger than French or Russian. But they all have a common origin! Anyway, modern literary English is a bit older than literary French (Shakespeare antedates the Académie,) and modern Russian literature is commonly said to have begun with Pushkin. These three languages alone cut his theory to bits.

since we don't know anything about Indo-European

We know all kinds of things about Indo-European. You need to do your homework. These can be extrapolated in a rigorous way from what we know of early members of the families of the modern Indo-European languages.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

dialect vs language (none / 0) (#316)
by adimovk5 on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:28:52 PM EST

It's difficult to draw boxes around languages. Is Byelorussian a dialect of Russian or an independent language? A hundred years ago, most linguists would have said it was independent. But today they are growing much closer together.

It seems simple to me. If two people are speaking using common grammer and vocabulary and they can understand each other, they are speaking different dialects. If the same situation occurs but they cannot understand each other, they are speaking different languages. Mutual unintelligibility is the key.



[ Parent ]

It's more complicated. (none / 1) (#325)
by gzt on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 11:08:41 AM EST

Suppose you have three people...

The point is that there may be some handy "rules of thumb" which let you say English and Danish are different languages, but some different "dialects" of English are less mutually intelligible than Norwegian and Danish. Further, X may understand Y and Y may understand Z, but that does not mean X understands Z. Etc, etc. Real scientists don't care about clear-cut definitions for the sake of definitions [ie, "when are two things different species/languages/etc..."]. The question is uninteresting and irrelevant.

[ Parent ]

ugh (none / 0) (#326)
by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 11:11:18 AM EST

Mutual unintelligibility is the key.

This isn't a law of nature and does not speak to my argument. It's like arguing over the semantics of whether Pluto is "really" a planet, as if that would establish any facts about Pluto.

My wife, a native speaker of Romanian, can understand but not speak Italian. Czechs and Slovaks can understand each other, but they sounds a little stupid to one another. Personally, I can't understand the spoken English of native English speakers with strong lower-class Scottish accents. Hmm?
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

I challenge you (none / 0) (#330)
by thankyougustad on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 03:55:40 PM EST

to give some examples of Proto-Indo-European. As far as I know the best scholars have done is compare words in the extant PIE languages and 'reconstuct' words used for family matters and urban life. This doesn't mean we know enough about its grammar. The people seem to have been illiterate, having left no written records. We don't even know for sure where they lived, and yet you claim their language is less complexe than Modern Russian and French.

What we do know seems to support the idea that they are in fact at least, or even less complexe than PIE: three reconstructed genders, eight cases, adjectives that agree in case number and gender with the noun. The verb system also seems to have used infelctions to show aspect, mood, tense, voice, person, and number.

You may be a super linguistist, but the mere suggestion of all these ablauts makes my head spin. And I know French and English do not have so many intricacies (to our detriment, it could be argued. )

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
gah (none / 0) (#336)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 10:17:30 AM EST

We don't even know for sure where they lived, and yet you claim their language is less complexe than Modern Russian and French.

I never made any such claim. Regardless, here is a link.

The standard convention is to mark unattested forms with an asterisk: *wódr 'water', *k^wó:n 'dog', *tréyes 'three (masculine)', etc. Many of the words in the modern Indo-European languages are derived from such "protowords" via regular sound change (e.g., Grimm's law). [Wikipedia.org]

The standard scholarly view is that, although PIE is not directly attested, we can move backward through progressively older attested languages to study their common points, and then use Grimm's law to hypothesize a PIE vocabulary. Older attested IE languages have lots of grammar in common, often features that became extinct in modern languages (such as the disappearance of dual number in all IE languages but the Baltic languages.)

PIE appears to have been more and less complex than modern IE languages. On the one hand, it had more grammatical numbers, more noun cases, and more declension families than the modern languages. On the other, it had far simpler systems for subordinating clauses (rather than using a subordinate clause, a PIE speaker could either construct a case relationship within a sentence, or just have short telegraphic sentences.) If you've ever had a look at Kant, you know that in scholarly German, you can have a sentence comprising 500 words, something that was absolutely unthinkable in PIE. Our use of verbs and prepositions today takes the place of case inflections in PIE.

My intention in this thread was not to prove that your linguist had it backwards, it was to demonstrate that all languages have comparable degrees of complexity, and that this is trivially and axiomatically true, yet also borne out by the research. I really haven't heard anything contradicting this from you except your refusal to understand how it is that a language with fewer cases can equal one with many in grammatical complexity. If this were so, then a totally uninflected language like Chinese would approach the theoretical minimum barrier to entry. But the Esperantist idea that degree of inflection equals degree of difficulty is not borne out in my experience, nor does there seem to be any empirical support for it.

Playing a hunch, I asked an English-speaking Kurdish doctor living in Romania about your thesis. He told me that he found Romanian much easier to learn than English, because there were more analogues to Kurdish grammar. So, in conclusion, your linguist friend was out to lunch.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

I enjoyed this thread (none / 0) (#337)
by thankyougustad on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:23:48 AM EST

I'm not sure I can add anything more to it, but I did want to tell you that I had a great time reading your responses. I do want to stress that I am not denying that languages can be different and equally complex; please don't misunderstand me.

The bottom line for me is this: languages change and as evinced by Grimm's 'law,' (which is really more of a generalization that works often enough) linguists have developed systems to explain language change.

You have probably heard of analogy: where irregular grammatical patterns are changed in accordence with the extant regular patterns in the language. In English, even recently, Helpen has become help, and walk, climb, burn and step, among some 40 or 50 others had the same thing happen to them. Printing and standard language curbed these changes, but they were happening. This is a case of grammatical simplification. I cannot think of any cases of English complicating itself, except by conscious additions, such as the latinization of the language in the 18th century.

As I said, this kind of simplification is natural and still seen with children: 'daddy goned.'

Your Kurdish doctor doesn't mean anything. . . for me it is easier to learn Italian than it is Chinese because of my background. . . idem for your Doctor. But maybe I misunderstood. . .

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
you have failed to grasp my point: (none / 0) (#338)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:41:42 AM EST

In English, even recently, Helpen has become help, and walk, climb, burn and step, among some 40 or 50 others had the same thing happen to them.

The big picture is that this grammatical simplification correlates with an increase in grammatical complication through subordinating structures.

Look, I don't care if a few dozen irregular verbs become regular. You are trying to draw an analogy between that and the large-scale move away from the degree of inflectional structure seen in PIE. That dog won't walk. The evidence does not support your assertion that 'languages become simpler over time,' end of discussion.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

pffffffffffff (none / 0) (#339)
by thankyougustad on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 12:01:21 PM EST

and you haven't supplied any evidence to the contrary. Who really cares? Don't go spouting off to me about how I didn't get the point simply because I don't agree with you; I could say exactly the same thing about you, but it has no meaning. Again, I really liked discussing this with you, please don't insult me.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
humbug (none / 0) (#340)
by Battle Troll on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 05:18:11 PM EST

you haven't supplied any evidence to the contrary.

I have supplied several easily available items, to wit:

  • English is no 'younger' than French or Russian, but has a less inflected grammar.

  • PIE has a more inflected grammar than any modern IE language, but is much less capable of clause subordination.

  • Modern Chinese languages have acquired a tonal character not possessed by medieval Chinese.

    These three items knock holes in your thesis which you have not shored up other than by arguing with my definitions and dismissing the evidence. But there are others you should have thought of yourself, eg, the modern Romance languages all have articles, a grammatical feature completely absent in Latin or PIE. Oops!

    Here is an example of a language undergoing grammatical evolution. In some ways, Cajun is simpler than French (it has lost gramattical gender.) On the other hand its system of articles and prepositions is far more ambitious than that of French.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

  • Thats fine (none / 0) (#341)
    by thankyougustad on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 07:37:12 PM EST

    Still, their is no prooving either assertation. Obviously we can cite examples that support our claims; I didn't say it was a hard and fast rule. Ummm nice talking with you.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de goût.

    [ Parent ]
    ugh, again (none / 0) (#347)
    by Battle Troll on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 10:57:44 AM EST

    Obviously we can cite examples that support our claims;

    Since you mention it, I haven't seen you cite anything yet.

    I didn't say it was a hard and fast rule.

    What other kind of rule is there?

    Still, their is no prooving either assertation.

    I don't know about you, but I usually argue from evidence. The evidence suggests that languages' grammars do not simplify over time. Rather, they develop, which means, that they become simpler in some ways and more complex in others. If you want to insist that the evidence demonstrates that they do, in fact, get simpler, then hurry up and produce some; if not, give up.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    argh. . . (none / 0) (#348)
    by thankyougustad on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 01:56:18 PM EST

    I don't think this is going anywhere. Okay, here are a few examples:

    PIE's genders, cases, and ablauts exist only in vestigal form in Modern derivitaves of this language.

    Old English's cases and genders no longer exist.

    Latin's ablauts don't exist anymore.

    Modern French is slowly doing away with some literary tenses.

    Bruce Lee (Okay, not a linguist but a native speaker and subtle mind)claims Chinese's lack of tenses, genders, cases, voices numbers and times means that it is simpler than it was grammatically, having 'moved to simplify its contruction

    Judging from the link you showed me, Lousianna Creole is much simpler than French. You say the article system is more complex, but why? In realty it is exactly as complex, En latab = Une Table. Or simpler, Latab yè = les tables (no s at the end of table in Creole). Additionally, nouns have no gender, there is only one form of the pronoun, and adjectives require no verb and are translated as "to be..." among other things. The cajun's took the easy things, left behind the irregularities and complexities of French.

    I also gave evidence of the linguistic tool of Analogy.


    It takes all kinds, doesn't it. We might as well drop it, I'm not going to convince you of anything (nor am I trying) and the same goes for you. I can only draw on what I know, which is limited, and the same for you.

    No no thanks no
    Je n'aime que le bourbon
    no no thanks no
    c'est une affaire de goût.

    [ Parent ]
    the common origin of languages (none / 0) (#317)
    by adimovk5 on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:40:26 PM EST

    All human languages either have a common origin or they all started within roughly the same era.

    It is the roots of languages that is old, not the existence of the modern language. Languages change steadily over time, except when cultures are struck by major events.

    English happens to have be hit by major events several times in fairly recent history. Old English happenned when the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes moved from the continent into England after the retreat of the Romans. Middle English happenned upon the attack by the Normans. Modern English starts after the Normans lose Normandy and lose their French ties.

    English didn't suddenly become Modern English. It happenned gradually. Few people living in the 15th, 16th or 17th centuries would have noticed the change. It is only from our vantage point centuries away that we see the great changes that were wrought.



    [ Parent ]

    new constructions added (none / 0) (#318)
    by adimovk5 on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:44:35 PM EST

    Modern English has added the female gender as equal to the male. In older forms of the language, the male form of all words included both male and female unless otherwise stated. Female versions were only used to specify that only females were being considered. In the modern form, male words only have male meaning unless otherwise stated.



    [ Parent ]

    Actually I heard it was the Danes (none / 0) (#262)
    by jongleur on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 12:22:51 AM EST

    Danes ruled the top half of England, and because the two languages shared the same Germanic root they could understand each other mostly if they each dropped their complicated grammar. I believe the transition was between Old and Middle English; certainly the Dane-caused simplification came before any Romance language influence.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    Four. (none / 1) (#246)
    by gzt on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 08:02:47 PM EST

    It had four cases.

    [ Parent ]
    Gendered nouns (none / 0) (#309)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 07:35:51 PM EST

    An interesting read is Lakhoff's Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things. He describes gender as just another marker, like number, which is used to encode differences. The origin of gender is not biological sex, but sex is often incorporated into gender because that's one of the distinctions that people are interested in.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    ps, re lojban (none / 1) (#196)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 08:07:49 PM EST

    I had a look at that particular page and their first example, 'klama' meaning a gender-nonspecific, present tense conjugation of 'go' referring to a person left undefined, is exactly paralleled with a one-word sentence in a language that I speak.

    If you're European and this strikes you as odd, you may have just witnessed a Sapir-Whorf effect!

    Or the page author just might be awesomely underinformed.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    artificial languages (none / 3) (#201)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 08:48:49 PM EST

    Artificial languages annoy me. It is the difference between a concrete box with rooms and a piece of fine architecture. Artificial languages don't have the same life and energy as natural language.

    It is the nuances that make language wonderous and powerful.



    [ Parent ]

    part of the problem: (none / 1) (#237)
    by Battle Troll on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 03:50:40 PM EST

    Artificial languages emerge from constructed vocabularies and grammars, not from speech, much less a canon of literary classics (which is what sets the literary bar for most languages: the standard texts of classical Greek, the Koran, the KJV/BCP in English, hundreds of years of poetry in Chinese, etc. etc. etc.) I also feel that they 'flow' poorly in the mouth, because their constructors always value the most primitive degree of grammatical conformity over the acceptable level of euphonious exceptions in a language intended to be learned by ear as a child.

    For example, if French were a conlang, they'd have made it so that you always have to split the terminal 's' of one word from the initial vowel of another: Je vous 'aime. But pronounced that way, it sounds like ass.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    natives (none / 1) (#202)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 09:14:06 PM EST

    I agree with you on the ease natives have with their own languages. Children are amazingly adept at picking up the intricacies of their native language and any other they are taught by a native speaker if taught at an early enough age.

    Modern English is highly adapted to technology and industry mostly because of the culture it evolved from. It arrived in about 1500, along with the Renaissance. English was again the ruling language of England. The middle class was growing. Latin and Greek words began pouring into English, as did Arabic words. By the 1800s, the industrial revolution was in full bloom. New words were required to describe everything new. England was a world power, interacting with cultures across the globe. New words were required to describe all the new discoveries. English is a product of those times.

    In America, the process has continued full speed. Science and exploration continue to push the boundaries of knowledge. Commerce increases variety and requires new names. Transportation and communication bring more and more of the world to America. Everything must have names.

    It's not so much that English is by its nature superior. It's more the case that English has to adapt and keep up with the people who use it to communicate.



    [ Parent ]

    I doubt it (none / 1) (#208)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 10:22:04 PM EST

    It's not so much that English is by its nature superior. It's more the case that English has to adapt and keep up with the people who use it to communicate.

    So English isn't intrinsically more advanced; it's simply that the most advanced cultures speak it, ergo it is the most advanced language, QED?

    I'm sorry, but this sounds like naive faith in progress to me. It seems to me that Russians, German, Japanese and Chinese people do quite well at conveying scientific and technical information in their respective languages. Israel is a technically advanced country in spite of its revival of a dead language as the national language. I mean, did you really mean to suggest that Chinese and Hebrew hold their speakers back in technical enterprises?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Superiority (none / 2) (#203)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 09:40:51 PM EST

    Encyclopedia. I only wish that my knowledge were worth something. It would be nice to get paid for the things crowded in my head. The only things I seem to be good at is discussions on threads and trivia games. My knowledge tends to run wide but not too deep.

    American language. American English has many influences that British English does not. Most of them are due to geographic happenstance. There are many Native words in AE. There are also many words from the large waves of immigrants. BE is also drifting. It is influenced by the stronger American version but also its ties with Europe. It also has a much different pattern of immigration.

    It has been said that the English spoken in New Zealand is closer to Shakespeare's English than British English is. New Zealand has been isolated for so long that it makes the drift in British English more apparent.

    Better or Worse. It's not correct to say that English is better than any other language in general. Every language is capable of expressing every idea that its native speakers require. If there is a new concept, the natives will come up with a way to describe it. In that sense, all languages are equal.

    Modern English is superior at adapting to new ideas and forming new words because of the culture that uses it. Modern English was born with the Renaissance. It has grown through the ages of discovery and exploration. It has led the industrial revolution. It was the first to the Moon and Mars. It leads in science and technology. Modern English must be adaptable and flexible because the culture that uses it needs it to be.

    [ Parent ]

    said by whom? (none / 0) (#334)
    by livus on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 10:30:32 PM EST

    who said that about NZ english? NZ has been populated by waves of migration and also bears the influence of indigenous peoples.

    It's nore usual for English academics to claim that Brit english is heading the way of NZ or Australia and that American is in some places closer to the way english was than Brit english.

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]

    NZ English (none / 1) (#360)
    by adimovk5 on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 09:43:06 PM EST

    I can't find any trace of the article that held the quote I want. However here is some information that holds the gist of the article.

    Accent

    The accent known to many people outside the United Kingdom as British English is Received Pronunciation, which is defined as the educated spoken English of southeastern England. Earlier it was held as better than other accents and referred to as the King's (or Queen's) English, or even "BBC English". Originally this was the form of English used by radio and television. However, for several decades other accents have been accepted and are frequently heard, although stereotypes about the BBC persist. English spoken with a mild Scottish accent has a reputation for being especially easy to understand.

    Even in the south east there are significantly different accents. The local inner east London accent called Cockney is strikingly different from Received Pronunciation and can be difficult for outsiders to understand.

    There is a new form of accent called Estuary English that has been gaining prominence in recent decades: it is has some features of Received Pronunciation and some of Cockney. In London itself, the broad local accent is still changing, partly influenced by Caribbean speech. Londoners speak with a mixture of these accents, depending on class, age, upbringing, and so on.

    Outside the south east there are, in England alone, at least seven families of accents easily distinguished by natives:

    • West Country (South West England)
    • East Anglian
    • Birmingham, Black Country and other industrial Midland accents
    • Liverpool (Scouse)
    • Manchester and other east Lancashire accents
    • Yorkshire
    • Newcastle (Geordie) and other north-east England accents
    New Zealand English
    Most New Zealanders speak a form of English that has not diverged greatly from British English, although in most respects, New Zealand English is very similar to Australian English. Both favour British spelling and choices between words given differences between American and British English. One notable exception is 'program', which in New Zealand is spelt as 'programme', as in British English. In Australia, which uses the American spelling, 'program' can refer either to computer programs or television productions. Many local words, largely borrowed from the indigenous Maori population, have arisen to describe the local flora, fauna, and the natural environment, and some other Maori words have made their way into the language.
    Moving to New Zealand - Living in New Zealand
    New Zealand is an English speaking country...sort of. Kiwis, who are quick to remind you that they are neither a bird nor a fruit, speak a highly recognizable version of the Queen's English. It has been said by many people from the northern hemisphere to be a bit more easily understood than the Australian variety. Linguists find New Zealand English to be the youngest version of the language in the world.
    The Queen's English

    Estuary English

    In summary, English in England is drifting from the old standard toward newer dialects. Meanwhile, New Zealand English, though changed by Maori influence, is still close to the old pronunciations. If true, this is most likely due to a relativly smaller population and geographic isolation.

    [ Parent ]

    Thanks, how interesting (none / 0) (#363)
    by livus on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 03:10:26 AM EST

    though to me it seems very odd. There's nothing RP about New Zild! I'll keep an eye out for this theory, though.

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]
    Chinese "words" (none / 0) (#368)
    by vectro on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 07:18:01 PM EST

    花 (huā) - "flower", "blossom", "to spend" (money, time), "fancy pattern"
    生 (shēng) - "to be born", "to give birth", "life", "to grow"

    花生 - "peanut", "groundnut"


    三 (sān) - "three"
    明 (míng) - "clear", "bright", "to understand", "next"
    治 (zhì) - "to rule", "to govern", "to manage", "to control", "to harness" (a river), "cure", "treatment", "to heal"

    三明治 - "sandwich"

    Hopefully these examples will clear up any misconceptions about Chinese compound words.

    With help from CEDICT and the ASCII-Unicode Pinyin converter.

    “The problem with that definition is just that it's bullshit.” -- localroger
    [ Parent ]
    Language changes (none / 0) (#312)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:08:42 PM EST

    Compare the changes in English since, say, Chaucer (14th century) with the changes in Spanish since the Poema de Mio Cid (12th century oral). English has changed much more dramatically.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Spanish had major changes too (none / 0) (#359)
    by adimovk5 on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 08:57:16 PM EST

    English changed significantly since Chaucer because the influences on English changed significantly. The separation of the Normans from their lands stopped the French influence. Otherwise, today French and English might be mutually intelligible languages. With the beginning of the Modern English era, English began to travel around the world and interact with a wide variety of cultures. The language was influenced by these cultural influences.

    The point you picked for Spanish is far inside the border of Modern Spanish. If you went back a little further, before the Arabic invasion in 719, you would find a different language.

    The original Spanish was a vulgar Latin dialect that combined Celtiberian with Latin. It came in with the Romans in 19BC. The second Spanish language era came with the Germanic Visigoths in around 400. The Arabs invaded in 719 to start the third Spanish era. Modern Spanish begins with the gradual reconquest of Spain by the states of Castille and Aragon.

    Since the reconquest, the language has been fairly stable. However, it had major invasion that changed its character too. Those invasions just happen further in the past.

    [ Parent ]

    Ah, yes, that's true (none / 0) (#364)
    by epepke on Wed Jun 09, 2004 at 05:13:11 AM EST

    But it wasn't simply a combination of Celtiberian with Latin, it was a particular, as you point out, vulgar dialect of Latin that had already become Creolized, deprecating the Latin case inflections for an SOV structure.

    Since we're talking 8th century, a more appropriate comparison would not be Chaucer but Beowulf, which is maybe 10th century and is truly bizarre to a modern English speaker.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Well, that's what's happening. (3.00 / 5) (#67)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun May 30, 2004 at 05:11:30 AM EST

    How about we let capitalism take its course?

    The business sector in the USA is more and more interested every year in reaching the Spanish-speaking market more effectively by Spanish-language marketing, packaging, products and service.

    Oh, wait, you meant the opposite of what you said.  And not because you're being ironic, but rather because you're being an idiot.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    Oh please. (2.75 / 4) (#75)
    by Tezcatlipoca on Sun May 30, 2004 at 07:33:43 AM EST

    Immigrants, specially poor, are demanding nothing.

    They jsut want to earn a few dollars and to be left in peace.

    I don't see why if somebody can get happily going on  with their lives they should be forced to learn English.

    We live in an era of multiculturalism, where diversity should not be an obstacel but an asset.

    Might is right
    Freedom? Which freedom?
    [ Parent ]

    Diversity and multiculturalism (none / 2) (#84)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:10:39 AM EST

    are tearing the world apart. All over the world people who are different are killing each other in the name of protecting their own diversity.

    People should try to learn and use English in the United States because it is the most dominant language. Knowledge of English would give a person the ability to live in the greatest number of places. Living in the United States without knowing English would make a person a virtual prisoner of a language enclave and reliant on someone who can translate for many needs.

    [ Parent ]

    That's a really stupid, contrived statement (2.83 / 6) (#90)
    by Estanislao Martínez on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:53:55 AM EST

    Diversity and multiculturalism are tearing the world apart. All over the world people who are different are killing each other in the name of protecting their own diversity.

    Then they're fighting for homogeneity, not diversity.

    --em
    [ Parent ]

    homogeneity (none / 0) (#97)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 11:21:38 AM EST

    Who is fighting for homogeneity?

    [ Parent ]
    The Austrian Minister for Education... (none / 1) (#108)
    by Kuranes on Sun May 30, 2004 at 01:28:47 PM EST

    ...recently commented on the fact that for some new gremiums which are on the top rows of Austria's Universities were partly staffed with members of, say "Post-Nazi"-Organisations to appeal to the right-wing FPÖ, which assures the majority to the ruling ÖVP in parliament. You know what she said?
    Tolerance is not a one-way road.
    Sheesh. So let's tolerate some people who deny the Holocaust and pose it as free-thinking?


    Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
    [ Parent ]
    Labor pool, that's why (none / 3) (#183)
    by cdguru on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:28:10 PM EST

    The problem is exactly that they are willing to work for "a few dollars" less than other people already in the US. Sometimes, we see recent immigrants (possibly illegal) taking jobs away from more established immigrants because they are willing to work for less.

    Businesses, out of a desire for getting the job done for the fewest possible dollars and a fear of potential employment lawsuits cannot "discriminate" against these people. The current regulations pretty much say that if someone comes up with apprently legal documents that you cannot deny them a job based on their potential illegal status. Of course, if they haven't made it to the document vendor yet, then you must deny them work - until they have those "apparently legal" documents.

    So, what we have is an entire class of jobs going to people that will work for less than the "prevailing wage" in the US. What this does is it hurts everyone - the less-recent immigrant with higher expectations and perhaps better English skills, the native-born job seekers, the business itself in the long run and the economy in general.

    What would we be looking at if instead of outsourcing IT jobs to India the Indian people were coming here to work at 1/10th the wages of people that were already here? How would you respond to your boss introducing you to your replacement worker that has agreed to take your job for half the salary? This is exactly what we are facing.

    [ Parent ]

    Kas (none / 0) (#140)
    by debacle on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:28:27 PM EST

    Your political views confuse me. Sometimes you advocate touchy-feely measures, while at other times you are quite brutish.

    What's the deal?

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    ok, sheesh, cripes (none / 1) (#151)
    by Kasreyn on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:20:00 AM EST

    I was in a bad mood, I opened my trap when I shouldn't have. 1.75/4 and 4 people flaming me, I thought it was obvious enough that I didn't need to reply. Well, guess not.

    For the record: I'm a jerk.


    -Kasreyn


    "Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
    We never asked to be born in the first place."

    R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
    [ Parent ]
    Or only patronize English-speaking businesses (none / 1) (#293)
    by nixman on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 12:12:06 PM EST

    I went into a McDonalds a few years ago around 10:30 in the morning and wanted to know if they were serving breakfast or lunch. The response from the Hispanic girl at the register was, "We eat now." I repeated my question more slowly and got the same response. She then went and asked her supervisor something, came back, and asked, "Number?".

    At that point I went across the street to Burger King.

    [ Parent ]
    Hunger (none / 2) (#335)
    by livus on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 10:33:57 PM EST

    Ive recently discovered (the hard way) that nothing makes me learn words and customs faster than hunger.

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]
    One thing I have noticed, (2.72 / 11) (#10)
    by Psycho Dave on Sat May 29, 2004 at 04:49:02 AM EST

    There's a fellow I've worked with at the hotel for a few years named Benito. He's here illegally, but he works hard and is really fuckin' smart. He learned English by ear, and though his speech is not perfect, it's more than understandable. Better than most of the others that work here where you have to pantomime *plunger* to get them to understand you. He makes an effort to have conversations in English with people to practice.

    However, Benito is disliked by many others on the housekeeping staff. Many think he's stuck up since he talks with the front desk staff regularly, and at least makes an effort to learn our language.

    Overall, I think Latinos are a diligent and hardworking people who are just this generation's "Irish Problem". However, I would hate to see them succumb to the mentality that plagues the black community to this day: the whole "house nigger" mentality where anyone who succeeds becomes a sell-out. I see that as where future problems between the American and immigrant communities will arise.

    illegal workers (none / 2) (#16)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:50:52 AM EST

    I wish that it were possible to find a way to make hard-working illegal workers legal without openning up the borders or openning a Pandora's Box of problems. Maybe businesses could be allowed to sponsor workers with work VISAs, regardless of how they arrive.

    [ Parent ]
    This is a little bit hypocrite (none / 2) (#73)
    by Kuranes on Sun May 30, 2004 at 06:12:24 AM EST

    First, your official policy is trying to keep them out of your country, but then, when they proved themselves as hardworking, worthy citizens, there you go and set up another official policy to make it OK.

    I know its important for any community that it doesn't always follow its own laws, but contradictions within the law are really problematic, since they allow for the interpretation you like at the moment.

    Besides, this contradiction shows that the aim of the first law was not "preservation of our culture" etc.; it was simply a means of regulating the economic process in favour of the own hegemonial status.


    Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
    [ Parent ]
    official policy (none / 3) (#83)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:03:54 AM EST

    My official policy isn't to keep anyone out of the country. My policy is to ensure that anyone who is here knows how to speak English. It doesn't mean they know how to speak fluently. It doesn't mean they must speak English.

    I am not trying to preserve the culture either. The culture can preserve itself. It needs no guardian. Culture shifts and changes with the needs of the population.

    My goal is to facilitate communication. People who communicate well with each other tend to get along better than people who communicate only with great difficulty.

    In the case of the illegal immigrant, is there a better solution? Should we eject him for violating our laws? In that case, we lose a chance to gain a very productive citizen. Should we keep him and ignore the law? Then others lose their respect for our immigration laws. Which is the greater loss?



    [ Parent ]

    It's still hypocrite (none / 0) (#109)
    by Kuranes on Sun May 30, 2004 at 01:34:28 PM EST

    1. Forbid people to come to your country, because "[Insert Country] is for [Insert 'official' citizens]!"

    2. Feel sorry for people who breached all bars and traps you set up for them, and give them citizenship.

    3. Feel good for being so charitable. Repeat.


    Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
    [ Parent ]
    Not hypocrite (none / 1) (#212)
    by Milo Minderbender on Mon May 31, 2004 at 11:47:11 PM EST

    First of all, "hypocrite" is a noun, you moron. Stop using it as an adjective! You're looking for "hypocritical".

    Think of it as a challenge, or a test, like running a gauntlet, of sorts. Immigration should be a machine to stop the masses. There's nothing wrong with rewarding those that have shown that they are so much smarter than the average citizen by slipping through the machine.

    --------------------
    This comment is for the good of the syndicate.
    [ Parent ]
    Well. (none / 2) (#218)
    by ekj on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 03:06:42 AM EST

    That would be ok if "slipping trough the machine" indicated only, or atleast primarily, that the person is smart.

    Unfortunately, to "slip trough" you also need a few other traits, such as a willingness to ignore the law for your own benefit.

    It's left as an exersize for the reader if it's really *that* clever an idea to encourage people who are a) smart and b) willing to ignore the law when it suits them, to immigrate.

    [ Parent ]

    Cultural issues (none / 3) (#70)
    by driptray on Sun May 30, 2004 at 05:39:04 AM EST

    You're talking about cultural issues where a specific group defines themselves in opposition to mainstream white society. Any attempts to succeed within that mainstream white culture are seen as selling out.

    Sure, it's a bad situation. But why does it happen? Why do a group of people (such as recent Spanish-speaking immigrants) start defining themslves in opposition to mainstream culture? It doesn't happen with every group of people, just some. I'd suggest (and I can already hear people howling this down) that it's because of the racism of the white mainstream. Those racist attitudes are what drives the new culture to start defining itself in opposition. And this then creates a vicious cycle - each group finding new cause to define themselves as being "not the other".

    It's a broken situation that I have no idea how to fix.
    --
    We brought the disasters. The alcohol. We committed the murders. - Paul Keating
    [ Parent ]

    more culturalist than racist (none / 0) (#227)
    by speek on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 11:51:13 AM EST

    It's a matter of keeping a tight grip on the culture. All those in power, and the older generation in general, try to keep the reins on cultural change. So, "white mainstream" really is a culture, and it tries to prevent change. American black culture has always been different from that, and it is fought against. Same with hispanic culture. Same with Mormon culture and Amish culture. The difference is that the Mormon culture has essentially been defeated and no longer worries "us", and Amish culture was always too small to be much of a threat. Black and Spanish culture are growing, and thus are major threats.

    --
    al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
    [ Parent ]

    immersion (none / 3) (#11)
    by ant0n on Sat May 29, 2004 at 07:16:34 AM EST

    As you describe it, the main difference between your immersion program and ESL programs in general is that the immersion program is taught in English; but that's a question of didactics, not a question of immigration or whatever. I believe that language lessons for a second language should be taught in the first language, if the pupils are beginners. Only when they have acquired sufficient skill in the second language, the lessons should be held in the second language.
    But anyway, I'm against such immersion programs for principle alone, because you suggest them to be mandatory. Why should immigrants be required to learn the language of the majority? If there are Spaniards who want to have their own, closed society inside the US, why not let them? They only make it harder for themselves, and others will benefit from that. If somebody from Spain comes to the US and doesn't bother to learn English, he won't be able to get a decent job, and that job is open to someone who did bother to learn English (be it someone from Spain or elsewhere).


    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    Sorry, I meant this to be topical, not editorial (none / 0) (#12)
    by ant0n on Sat May 29, 2004 at 07:18:08 AM EST


    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    mandatory on principle (none / 1) (#14)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:09:29 AM EST

    But anyway, I'm against such immersion programs for principle alone, because you suggest them to be mandatory. Why should immigrants be required to learn the language of the majority?

    I understand your viewpoint. You don't believe in forcing an adult to learn English. I'm not advocating that. I'm forcing an adult to learn English as a condition for immigrating to the United States. Once that person has immigrated, he is free to form whatever enclave he wishes. In other words, he knows English but chooses not to use it.

    It is mandatory, not for his sake, but for the sake of the people he must ineract with. The police, firemen, and medical workers he needs will probably speak English. His children will have a better chance if he speaks English.

    Please keep in mind that the solution applies not only to Spanish speakers.

    [ Parent ]

    teaching language (none / 1) (#15)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:39:39 AM EST

    I believe that language lessons for a second language should be taught in the first language, if the pupils are beginners. Only when they have acquired sufficient skill in the second language, the lessons should be held in the second language.

    Immersion begins with the native language. However, it rapidly proceeeds to the goal. It seeks to have the student learn the language quickly. By teaching mainly in the goal language, students are encouraged to think in the goal language and express themselves in the goal language.

    Diplomats and businesses have used the programs successfully for years to get their people started. It is exclusive use of the goal language during the learning activities and putting the knowledge thus acquired into practice during the meals, breaks and social and cultural activities. A typical residential course is 66 hours of exposure to the goal language. Thanks to motivation and to the optimal learning and communication conditions, maximum progress is made in a minimum amount of time. Far from day to day preoccupations, the only concern is learning the language and putting it into practice. Not only is communication in the language learned but also the culture of the language.

    In an ESL course, English is taught for an hour or two. Any other instruction is taught in the native language. This process allows the learner to switch back and forth from the native language to the goal language. Students tend to think in their native language and then translate into the goal language. For example, the teacher speaks, the student hears, translates the message, forms a question, and then translates the question back to the goal language. It's a difficult process. I've seen students stay in ESL for years. There is no incentive to leave (until college).

    [ Parent ]

    teaching language (2.66 / 3) (#24)
    by ant0n on Sat May 29, 2004 at 12:18:10 PM EST

    I know to approaches to teach someone a second language:

    Method 1: The lessons are held in the second language from the very beginning of the course. The teacher does not utter a single word in the pupil's first language, not even to answer questions.

    This is method is often used in Japan for English courses in so called eikawa-schools. The teachers are Australians or Americans, most of them without formal education in being a foreign language teacher. They don't speak Japanese, and thus can't and won't explain anything to their pupils in Japanese. They speak English all the time, and their pupils, who have just started to learn English, don't understand anything, of course. And thus, they don't learn anything.

    Method 2: The teacher explains grammar in the pupil's first language, but uses the second language as soon as possible (even in the very first lesson) and where appropriate. For example, "Hello, my name's John, I'm your new English teacher!' would be appropriate use of the second language - if the pupils are native speakers in an indo-germanic tongue, they will understand it. But difficult explanations would be held in the first language. As soon as it is possible for the pupils to understand grammar explanations in the second language, the teacher switches to that. That's how I learned English, and I believe this method is far superior to method 1.

    As I understand it, method 1 is what you'd call 'immersion'. But it's not clear, because you say that 'immersion begins with the native language' and then you say the use of the goal language 'is exclusive'. So, if the courses begins with the native tongue and then switches over to the second language, then what you describe is no new method for language teaching, but simply traditional language teaching.


    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    Sigh... (none / 1) (#244)
    by epepke on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 07:56:03 PM EST

    This is method is often used in Japan for English courses in so called eikawa-schools. The teachers are Australians or Americans, most of them without formal education in being a foreign language teacher. They don't speak Japanese, and thus can't and won't explain anything to their pupils in Japanese. They speak English all the time, and their pupils, who have just started to learn English, don't understand anything, of course. And thus, they don't learn anything.

    No offense, but while I cannot speak about how many untrained teachers of English are in Japan, this would be a fairly ignorant description of what trained teachers in immersion programs do. Disclaimer: I'm trained in two immersion methodologies, the Dartmouth method (in which I was trained for German instruction), and the European Direct method (in which I was trained for English instruction.)

    There are many tricks to get the students to understand. Your example, "my name is," is one of the first lessons, and one of the easiest to do. Here are some of the tricks:

    • Body language. Acting out verbs and adjectives. Numbers are easy for those with fingers.
    • Gestures presented not because they are inherently understandable but for arbitrary anchoring effects.
    • Presenting real objects.
    • Relying on the existing knowledge of students (very important).
    • Using color-coding for parts of speech.
    • Using finger position for order of phrases, etc.
    • Choosing cognates early. These exist even in Japanese. Hardo disku, anyone?

    Ironically, the first lessons in a pure immersion program are the easiest to teach and learn. More advanced grammar is a bit more difficult, but there are also plenty of tricks to use.

    Incidentally, I like your sig, and while I've done a fair amount of work in computational and structural linguistics, actually teaching language is far easier than coming up with rules to understand language.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    immersion (none / 0) (#273)
    by ant0n on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 07:44:44 PM EST

    Body language, presenting real objects, relying on existing knowledge, choosing cognates early... oh, come on, these concepts have been part of traditional language teaching for decades already. I don't understand what's so new or special with this immersion technique. I would be thankful if you could post some links to documents which explain the Dartmouth Method / European Direct Method you mentioned in detail, who invented it and so on. I really want to know. I have read about a plethora of "new" language teaching methods; either they were plain bullshit or they were just traditional language teaching really, but giving fancy names to old concepts.
    There is one thing about immersion which makes me particularly skeptical: you say that you have been trained to be a teacher for German, but are not a German native speaker yourself. Please don't take it personally, but I strongly believe that a non-native speaker can never teach someone a second language properly (be it German or whatever). Never. I know that from personal experience, because I have been the victim of three different English teachers, whose first languages were German, Czech and American.


    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    Well... (none / 0) (#283)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 12:35:41 AM EST

    body language, presenting real objects, relying on existing knowledge, choosing cognates early... oh, come on, these concepts have been part of traditional language teaching for decades already.

    Indeed; of course they are. The only reason that I brought them up was that it seemed to me that you were arguing that some L1 instruction was necessary for beginning students. If this is not your position, then please explain your position further. I am arguing that such techniques which, yes, you are right, are part of traditional language teaching as well, are sufficient for the majority of students. I say "the majority" because, in my experience, somewhere around 10% of students don't take to that kind of experience, and those would probably be better served by a traditional language course.

    I don't understand what's so new or special with this immersion technique.

    Of course, it isn't new. It's as old as language. I don't know if it's "special," because I don't know how you mean "special." It's just different, and it may have different attributes, and I would hope that these could be discussed in a rational manner. Please note that I do not hold particular teaching techniques to be Zippo Presto Magical Change-o™. I take a "salad bar" approach to things, but I have been impressed at the efficacy of the immersion process in getting people ready for basic conversation. More traditional approaches have their place. Furthermore, most teaching methodologies are really ways to teach teachers, and good teachers synthesize the stuff. I should also point out that I learned and taught German by the Dartmouth method in the mid-1980's, which is probably before a farily large K5 contingent was even born. So I don't consider it particularly novel.

    I would be thankful if you could post some links to documents which explain the Dartmouth Method / European Direct Method you mentioned in detail, who invented it and so on. I really want to know.

    I used to know the name of the person who came up with the Dartmouth method, but I don't remember it any more. However, a casual Google search came up with this, which seems to me a good starting point. As for European Direct, that's what they called it when I trained with New World Teachers. I don't know much about it beyond the actual course.

    I have read about a plethora of "new" language teaching methods; either they were plain bullshit or they were just traditional language teaching really, but giving fancy names to old concepts.

    I don't know what your experience is. Nor do I know that it's important to make a decision whether something is "new" or "plain bullshit." Perhaps you are interested, but I am not. In any event, I've learned two L2s by what appeared to me to be very different processes, and I am more interested in learning from the similarities and differences.

    There is one thing about immersion which makes me particularly skeptical: you say that you have been trained to be a teacher for German, but are not a German native speaker yourself. Please don't take it personally, but I strongly believe that a non-native speaker can never teach someone a second language properly (be it German or whatever).

    I'm not offended. I was only teaching beginning German, and that only in what the snooty colleges call a recitational context, that is, subordinate to a master teacher. This is the kind of subordinate task given to assistant teachers. In that context, I was really good at it. I do not claim that I would be qualified to teach someone German in a context other than that, let alone advanced German. However, I still think that it's fairly significant and much more than I would have been able to teach Spanish after one year of traditional instruction in Spanish.

    I think I'm pretty stellar as an English teacher, however, but then again, that's my L1, and I have an unusually large vocabulary and an unusually good grasp of grammar, notwithstanding the number of mistakes I make in quasi-conversational media such as this one. I thought, for instance, that I was qualified to start what was only the second program in the US to teach English to schizophrenics in a mental hospital, and I think I was right about that.

    know that from personal experience, because I have been the victim of three different English teachers, whose first languages were German, Czech and American.

    As I am not personally responsible for your experience with said teachers, nor your victimization thereby, I will not take this personally, either.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    immersion (none / 0) (#290)
    by ant0n on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 05:41:04 AM EST

    The only reason that I brought them up was that it seemed to me that you were arguing that some L1 instruction was necessary for beginning students. If this is not your position, then please explain your position further.

    Well I think it depends on the combination of L1 and L2. If you are going to teach English to native speakers of German, then I'd agree with you: it is not necessary to use German in class, at least not in the very first courses (later, it will probably be necessary to switch to German for certain explanations of grammar). But if the L1 is German (or English), and the L2 is Japanese (or Chinese) for example, then the lessons would be a waste of time if the teacher doesn't explain even the simplest sentences and structures in L1.
    So, all I'm saying is that I don't think one should dogmatically rule out L1 instruction for language teaching.

    But it remains unclear to me in what respects immersion differs from ESL. Reading the comments, sometimes it seems that immersion completely does without L1 (for the sake of the principle alone), then it seems that it uses L1 only when absolutely necessary (but then, that would be the same as in a standard ESL course).


    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    Agree to disagree (none / 0) (#306)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 06:55:31 PM EST

    ut if the L1 is German (or English), and the L2 is Japanese (or Chinese) for example, then the lessons would be a waste of time if the teacher doesn't explain even the simplest sentences and structures in L1.

    Perhaps we can agree to disagree, here. I'm not aware of any infants who have the structure of simple structures explained to them, via mental telepathy or something. It seems to me that they start off with just the neurological wiring that the vast majority of humans share, and they do OK. If one believes that all the neurological structures that infants have to facilitate this shrivel up and die, or something, then one would conclude that it would be impossible, but I don't think that this has been adequately demonstrated. Immersion programs are based on the idea that these neurological structures are just dormant and can be brought to a large extent back into activity by a particular kind of environment. Of course, there's no way to demonstrate this either with present technology, no blood test or MRI scan that you can do, because knowledge of how the brain works is so poor. So, we're limited to trying things out in vivo and seeing if they work.

    Furthermore, there are plenty of ways of expressing grammatical structures and patterns without resorting to meta-words to describe them.

    Taking your example of English/Japanese, for example, I don't think that it's necessary to draw an explicit comparison between "san," Mr. and sir, nor is it necessary to explain the very different ways that English and Japanese are used to express politeness; you just present the forms in contexts that would be comprehensible to someone in that culture. For Chinese students, you don't have to explain that the family name goes at the end rather than at the beginning; just present it in the context of a family. Most of the students will pick it up. For one or two, you might have to take them aside and explain, but that's the exception and not the rule.

    I admit that I will speak to students in their L1 (if I know it, even haltingly), but only during breaks and before and after class, but the class time itself is ruled an English-only zone. I don't know that this is dogmatic, because there are also disadvantages of relying upon the L1; it encourages certain classes of errors, such as transliteration and inappropriate grammar mapping. There are benefits to avoiding the use of the L1. Once in a blue moon it may be necessary to break that guideline, but that only means that the guideline isn't dogmatic. Even in those instances, it's better to try several other techniques first and only break the guideline with individual students in separate session.

    However, it all depends on what one is learning the language for. Immersion programs tend to be relatively strong in getting people to have conversational skills quickly but relatively poor in training people to be interpreters. When I try to speak German, which I learned via an immersion method, my feeling is that German and English swap places; when I am in German-speaking mode, English feels to me like an L2 and is more difficult to access than German. So, if, for example, I can't think of the German word for something, while I'm in that mode, it will also be difficult to think of the English word. I do not have that experience with Spanish, which I learned traditionally; English always seems primary.

    ut it remains unclear to me in what respects immersion differs from ESL.

    I don't understand that statement; it seems to me a bit like asking how a Chevy Impala differs from an automobile, when a Chevy Impala is an automobile. ESL is an umbrella term for teaching English as a Second Language. It is comprised of immersion techniques, traditional techniques, linguistics studies, and lots of other stuff. Furthermore, the vast majority of ESL courses seem to be mostly immersion programs, so perhaps you and I are using the term "traditional" in different ways. I'm talking about the ways that languages were normally taught in American middle- and high-schools circa 1970. Furthermore, as far as I can tell, the majority of ESL courses already are immersion programs for the most part, so perhaps this is a reason you see a smaller difference than I do. I'm just guessing, though.

    I just thought of something for comparison: physical education courses. I can't think of a single time during the many PE courses that I experienced when a coach ever explained the rules of baseball or basketball or even the games they had just invented (such as the "cross-country soccer" of my old high school coach) which, presumably, nobody could have learned about elsewhere. The emphasis seems to be on getting the kids playing as quickly as possible and having them learn the rules by a combination of observation and participation.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    superstition (none / 0) (#322)
    by ant0n on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 06:02:43 AM EST

    I don't understand that statement
    That's my fault, I sometimes made the mistake that I wrote ESL where I meant traditional language education (be it for English or another language).

    Perhaps we can agree to disagree, here.
    Okay, let's agree to disagree. I'm not one of those people who try to convince someone in a discussion forum, anyway. That would be futile and useless. I just thought we share our opinions.
    I only would like to add that your last comment, #306, made your opinion clear to me, and I strongly disagree. Yes, I absolutely think that 'the neurological structures that infants have to facilitate this [learning a language] shrivel up and die, or something', as you put it. Why do I think so? Because there has been a huge amount of scientific research on this subject and the result was that the first-language acquisition of children is completely different from the second-language acquisition of adults. You can read about this in virtually any scientific book on psycholinguistics.
    If you believe that we maintain this psychological/neurological ability, then immersion makes sense. But believing this is sheer superstition, not scientific fact.


    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    Thanks for the clarification (none / 0) (#344)
    by epepke on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 12:26:32 AM EST

    I only would like to add that your last comment, #306, made your opinion clear to me, and I strongly disagree. Yes, I absolutely think that 'the neurological structures that infants have to facilitate this [learning a language] shrivel up and die, or something', as you put it. Why do I think so? Because there has been a huge amount of scientific research on this subject and the result was that the first-language acquisition of children is completely different from the second-language acquisition of adults. You can read about this in virtually any scientific book on psycholinguistics.

    Thanks for the clarification. Really. It focuses the issue where it should be.

    I see where you're coming from. You see suggestive evidence and declare it as fact.

    I come from probably a different background, with scientific training. My current view is that the understanding of neurology is insufficient to make a determination of whether those structures shrivel up and die. I have not seen compelling evidence that they do, and I have not seen compelling evidence that they don't. I don't think that neurology is anything near well developed enough to make a determination.

    Furthermore, I've lived a while. I lived when the majority of the scientific community believed that neurons never regenerated. Whoops! That turned out to be wrong. Then I lived through the time when it was believed that new neurons never grew in the brain past a certain point. Whoops! That also turned out to be wrong. I don't know how much or what parts of your "scientific fact" will turn out to be wrong in the future, but it's been only a couple of years since someone observed dendrite-splitting in vitro. It's an exciting field, but I think there is still plenty of room for growth.

    So, the difference between our positions is as follows. You are convinced that the shriveling up of neurological structures is absolute, immutable scientific fact, and that failing to declare it absolutely true is mere superstiion. I, on the other hand, am not convinced either way; I still see problems in the gathering of data that would allow contamination. Therefore I am agnostic. Given that I do not know that people lose this ability, I do not see any reason to incorporate an absolute assumption that they do into language teaching. I'd rather do my evidence-gathering at a level where the effects are much clearer and avoid the issue altogether if possible (which I can't do forever, because people keep bringing it up.)

    Furthermore, even if I were convinced that some youthful language-learning abilities were lost forever, it would be a leap of faith that I am not willing to do to to conclude that all youthful language-learning abilities were lost forever, or that I even knew which ones were. The only way I know on a meaningful level to investigate this is to try to reactivate them and see if it works. I do not expect you to have interest in this, as you have made up your mind absolutely.

    So, perhaps we can agree to disagree.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    I disagree (none / 0) (#243)
    by epepke on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 07:26:51 PM EST

    I disagree with this:

    I believe that language lessons for a second language should be taught in the first language, if the pupils are beginners.

    I've been involved in both traditional and immersive language programs, both as a speaker and as a teacher. Language-learning has many different possible uses, but when the use it to learn how to speak the language, day 1 immersion programs do something good to the brain that makes learning the language for conversational purposes easier.

    Anecdotally but specifically, I learned Spanish via the traditional methods over a period of about a decade or so. I became fairly proficient, eventually, and was able to read 11th century Spanish without any problem, but my conversational skills were always halting. On the other hand, I learned German via a modified immersion program and, after one year, I was able to hold a decent conversation and was good enough to teach German. On the other hand, I probably couldn't read 11th century German.

    I got significantly better at Spanish after simply living for a bit more than a month in Mexico (and avoiding the Gringo tourist areas), but that again I attribute to immersion.

    My working hypothesis is that this is because immersion more closely approximates the situation where people are learning their first language and gets some of the benefits. People aren't born with a language; the first one they learn is without the referent of a prior language. Most people seem to agree that learning language as a native is the best possible way. While this may (or may not) be impossible to duplicate with adult language programs, immersion from day 1 is a better approximation of those conditions than the traditional approach.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Huh? (1.91 / 12) (#13)
    by SanSeveroPrince on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:02:44 AM EST

    Nice article, but the one point that struck me dumb was in your intro: where the hell did you go and find and English speaker in the United States?

    ----

    Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


    I could gloat and point out (none / 2) (#57)
    by For Whom The Bells Troll on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:52:33 AM EST

    the grammatic wisdom of someone confusing between an 'an' and an 'and', but that would be just as ironic as someone pointing out that 'grammatic' isn't a proper word.

    ---
    The Big F Word.
    [ Parent ]
    Unnecessarily cruel gloating :) {n/t} (none / 0) (#105)
    by SanSeveroPrince on Sun May 30, 2004 at 01:04:49 PM EST



    ----

    Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


    [ Parent ]
    The problem many have with Hispanics (2.25 / 8) (#23)
    by JChen on Sat May 29, 2004 at 11:40:18 AM EST

    is that many of them are here illegally. Furthermore, many Americans stereotype most first-generation Hispanics, especially Mexicans, as people who could care less about America and becoming Americanized, but rather are here to make money and benefit from social welfare, and then return to their home countries without a care about the US anymore. The predominant quote that I have heard from many was something to the effect of "If you've already broken a Federal law on the first day of your stay in the US, why should we have any sympathy for you?"

    Let us do as we say.
    As opposed to the current rulers of Usia... (2.12 / 8) (#39)
    by ShadowNode on Sat May 29, 2004 at 06:59:49 PM EST

    Who just slaughtered the people who where there before them.

    [ Parent ]
    ahh, the good old days (none / 3) (#45)
    by horny smurf on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:34:32 PM EST

    too bad we can't do the same to the islamofascists.

    [ Parent ]
    Indeed. (2.75 / 4) (#188)
    by bjlhct on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:53:52 PM EST

    Nukes are just too impersonal.

    *
    [kur0(or)5hin http://www.kuro5hin.org/intelligence] - drowning your sorrows in intellectualism
    [ Parent ]
    A few points. (2.75 / 8) (#27)
    by sophacles on Sat May 29, 2004 at 01:09:54 PM EST

    I grew up in Chicagoland, one of the areas you mentioned with large spanish speaking populations.  Most of these people are Mexican and Puerto Rican.  On the east coast they are mostly from islands (Puerto Rico and Cuba) or south america.  In the Southwest, they are mostly Central American (predominately Mexican).  I mention this because culturally, these groups are different.  Immigrants like to settle with others from thier culture.  It is more comfortable for them, and allows for easier (albeit slower) transition.  It also allows them some protection, as knowing the people who are already more integrated into the US culture allows them access to experience, as well as to Americans who are more comfortable with the immigrant types.  It also of course brings a risk of people finding them who know how/are willing to exploit them.

    Im not sure your proposed English immersion program would be as useful as you think.  First of all most of the large communities of spanish speaking immigrants are well developed.  There are usually many businesses that cater to spanish speakers, and many of these don't have anyone on hand that is fluent in English.  This leads many immigrants to question wether learning english is neccessary.  They are usually happy and rich by the standards they grew up with.  Their children will learn english, but for them, they have already succeded beyond what they may have even thought possible.

    Second, most government agencies (local level anyway) such as Fire, Emt, Police, city hall, and DMV employ people who can speak spanish, so that communicating is not as big of a problem as many people think.  My father is a cop in a community that has a large hispanic population, and while he knows very little spanish, he has never had major problems with communication.  Nor have a lot of the other cops.  This is for a couple of reasons other than the above mentioned.  Both sides know that there may be a problem with communicating, so suprisingly both sides tend to be more patient about communication.  A pidgin tends to be enough to get the major points across untill someone who can translate shows up. (also understanding what you hear in different language  tends to be easier than speaking that language, both sides usually use this unconciously).

    Many of the problems are in the first and second generation americans.  These kids grow up learning spanish in the home, and neighborhood.  They also have to learn english for school.  they are the ones that tend to experience more racism, because for some reason Americans think that first generation should be wholly american.  The first and second generation though have a strong cultural background of thier parents.  They have a natural cultural pride.  These kids also grow up knowing they are poor by american standards and don't understand when thier parents tell them how good they have it.  These kids wouldn't benifit from the english immersion programs, since they are by thier nature involved in one.  I think these are the kids that we need to focus integration efforts on.  I have no idea what to do or how to do it, these are just my observations.

    Oh, and if you dont think that the cultural differences are that big, walk up to a Mexican and call him Peurto Rican or the other way around.  You'll get your ass kicked.

    proposed immersion (none / 0) (#31)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 01:33:24 PM EST

    .....many of these don't have anyone on hand that is fluent in English.

    This is the problem I am trying to address. If my solution is put in place, all immigrants will receive English training from the beginning. They won't have to depend on someone else to intervene for them. When they settle, they can then choose to speak or not speak English.

    Please keep in mind that although I chose Spanish speaking immigrants as my example, the program is designed for all immigrants.

    It won't cure all the problems, but I think it will help.

    [ Parent ]

    first and second generation (none / 0) (#32)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 01:44:15 PM EST

    I believe the second generation can be helped most by treating the first generation right. That's why I suggest a mandatory English immersion for them. They will be able to assist their children in learning English. The second generation will receive immersion in school. It is important that English be a focus at a young enough age that the children become bilingual. Too slow a start will result in children for whom English is only a second language and nothing more.

    I grew up with many Spanish speaking friends who were taught English as an ESL. They were always struggling in class even though they were just as smart as anyone else.

    I was taught two languages in school. One was taught in the language. The other was taught mostly in English. I learned the former one much faster. I learned the second one but I don't think I have the same grasp on it.



    [ Parent ]

    No need of 'for the sake of the kids' (none / 1) (#125)
    by jongleur on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:51:12 PM EST

    it's the rule that parents may or may not learn the host language but that the kids will - their friends and school speak it, and kids are more absorptive anyway. The kids always learn before the parents, frequently insulating the parent from having to learn the host language.

    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    Denver (none / 2) (#60)
    by teece on Sun May 30, 2004 at 03:55:09 AM EST

    I don't know if Denver is considered to have a 'large' Spanish speaking population.  I grew up in the White-Bread suburbs, and nary a native Spanish speaker was to be found.

    I grew up and moved away from the suburbs.  I am married to a third generation woman, of Mexican heritage (but she is acculturated -- don't call her a Mexican, she'll kick you.  She is just as much an American as me).  She speaks no Spanish.  Her mom does, but she learned most of it in college.

    However, we now live in North Denver, which has a lot of Mexican immigrants.  It was surprising to me just how much Spanish there is here.  If I spoke only Spanish, I could get by in North Denver just fine.  Indeed, in a lot of the little shops and such around our house, my wife and I, being English only, are actually in the minority.  At our favorite Mexican restaurant, they always greet us in Spanish. We have to tell them 'no hablo espanol' every time.

    You'd be surprised how close the Spanish speaking population is in much of the Midwest and West, I think.

    -- Hello_World.c, 17 Errors, 31 Warnings...
    [ Parent ]

    From a first-hand witness. (2.85 / 7) (#34)
    by kaboom108 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 02:36:43 PM EST

    I live north of Miami, Florida. Miami is almost entirely Spanish speaking. The problem is not that new residents don't speak english. The problem is new residents come to South Florida, and meet an entrenched spanish speaking population. They then have no desire to learn English, or take advantage of the extensive resources offered to help them learn English. This causes a big problem, because it fosters an us vs them mentality in the community. Spanish speaking only families have difficulty interacting with police and government officials, and generally don't trust English speaking officials. Have a white officer (who speaks spanish as a second language or through a translator) and a hispanic spanish speaking officer take a report and you will get entirely different stories. I've seen this firsthand. The problem isn't such that Spanish is going to suddenly take over the country, it's that too rapid immigration without allowing time for "Americanization" and integration can create a seperate culture (instead of integrating them into a single, richer culture) and be a source of contention. Already, if I go to Miami I can be expected to be treated rudely. It does not feel right to be treated like an outsider in the state you were born and raised in. I am not against immigration, immigration has turned South Florida into a vibrant metropolitan community instead of a stagnant Southern backwater. I think, however, you are wrong about many conclusions. American students should not have to learn Spanish as a second language. Second languages are valuable, but to decree "lots of people speak spanish and don't want to learn english, so you'll have to learn spanish" is not the solution. Keep the system where students can choose from several options for second lanugages. Many students choose thier second language based on their heritage, their goals, their travel plans, etc. The point is kind of moot, because noone learns enough to speak fluently from high school courses, immersion courses, or ESOL courses . That can only be achieved by practicing speaking the language. It is my opinion that immigrants who do not speak English should be welcomed into the country. They should be provided with resources to learn English. A realistic goal should be set (2-3 years) after which they are tested for renewal of their visa or to get citizenship. People all around the world are clamoring for the chance to live in America, and we can only absorb so much per year. I think it's reasonable to set high standards.

    Ethnic genocide? (none / 2) (#180)
    by cdguru on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:10:08 PM EST

    But, are you talking about forcing the immigrants to discard their Spanish-speaking heritage? I hear so many arguments about this. The idea that the diversity of the US depends on not assimilating these people into the "greater US population".

    As much as these people may not want to be "assimilated", I believe there are plenty of do-gooder type folks that think it is better for these people not not learn English.

    [ Parent ]

    great post (2.80 / 5) (#184)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:36:38 PM EST

    I would only add that we need to significantly improve second-language education here, because most students never learn a second language well enough to speak it comprehensibly, much less write in it.

    By way of comparison, my wife is European and she's mildly embarassed that she only speaks three languages; all of her friends speak at least three languages, her grandmother speaks four, and her best friend speaks five. I've spoken to her best friend on the 'phone in both English and French and, as she speaks them like very well, I have no doubt that her other languages are solid as well.

    It's not impossible to do this over here. We just need to find the political will to do it. It would be very good for the USA.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    In the EU (none / 2) (#36)
    by jacoplane on Sat May 29, 2004 at 06:11:36 PM EST

    we have 20 'official' languages. Of course for us this is quite a major problem in terms of translation, but English and Spanish should not be a problem. Has the US actually formalised that English is the official language? If so I would say they should add Spanish ASAP.

    official language (3.00 / 5) (#37)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 06:25:44 PM EST

    No, the United States has no official language. At various points in history, English has been proposed but it has never gone further than that. A few states have official languages.

    [ Parent ]
    I've heard the idea came up early (none / 1) (#119)
    by jongleur on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:09:44 PM EST

    but at the time there was a majority of German speakers (measured one way or another) and so the English speakers resisted the idea.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    German (2.80 / 5) (#150)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 12:23:57 AM EST

    It's a recurring myth. The incident happenned in the Virgina legislature not at the national level. The question wasn't whether to make German an official language. The question was official printing in the german language.

    Official German?

    MYTH: German missed becoming the official language of the United States by a margin of one vote.

    There was no vote on German as the official language of the United States. The Library of Congress has investigated and dismissed this patently absurd story as has Prof. Henry A. Pochmann in German Culture in America, 1600-1900 (Madison, University of Wisconsin Press, 1957).

    Furthermore, even in Pennsylvania (where Germans made up 33.3 percent of the population in 1790), no such or similar vote occurred, despite persistent rumors otherwise. (See Albert Bernhardt Faust, The German Element in the United States, New York, Steuben Society of America, 1927, vol. 2, pp. 652-653.

    The Pennsylvania rumor dates from 1847, when historian Franz Loher alleged:

    In the State Assembly, not long after the conclusion of peace, a motion was made to establish the German language as the official and legal language of Pennsylvania... When the vote was taken on this question -- whether the prevailing language in the Assembly, in the courts and in the official records of Pennsylvania should be German -- there was a tie. Half voted for the introduction of the German language... Thereupon the Speaker of the Assembly, a certain Muhlenberg, cast the deciding vote in favor of the English language.

    In 1931, the scholar Otto Lohr revealed the truth. On January 9, 1794, a petition from the Germans in Virginia (not Pennsylvania) requested that Congress provide for the publication of German translations of some of its laws. It was reported favorably out of committee on December 23. It was rejected by the House committee of the whole on January 13, 1795, by a vote of 42 to 41 (no roll-call was taken). Frederick Muhlenberg was the Speaker of the House at the time (1789-91 and 1793-95); his brother John was on the committee that had reported out the petition. Frederick has previously been Speaker of the Pennsylvania House twice, which may explain the transference of the rumor to Pennsylvania.

    It is the theory of the Historical Materials Division of the Library of Congress that the German-American Bund of the '30s created the national myth out of Loher's fiction and Lohr's fact, and circulated it as Nazi propaganda. This theory is bolstered by the fact that the rumor (in its national form) does not appear before that time.



    [ Parent ]
    In the CIA world factbook (none / 2) (#47)
    by muyuubyou on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:55:07 PM EST

    They list English and Spanish.

    http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/fields/2098.html

    [ Parent ]

    you misunderstood the information (3.00 / 4) (#49)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 09:20:04 PM EST

    If you examine the list you will find that the word (official) is placed beside all official languages in the CIA's list. English and Spanish are spoken but they are not official.

    Many people are surprised to learn that the United States has no official language. As one of the major centers of commerce and trade, and a major English-speaking country, many assume that English is the country's official language. But despite efforts over the years, the United States has no official language.

    Almost every session of Congress, an amendment to the Constitution is proposed in Congress to adopt English as the official language of the United States. Other efforts have attempted to take the easier route of changing the U.S. Code to make English the official language. As of this writing, the efforts have not been successful.

    According to U.S. English, the following states have existing official language laws on their books: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Wyoming. A small handful date back more than a few decades, such as Louisiana (1811) and Nebraska (1920), but most official language statutes were passed since the 1970's.

    no official language



    [ Parent ]
    I didn't say that (none / 1) (#59)
    by muyuubyou on Sun May 30, 2004 at 03:27:46 AM EST

    I just wanted to point out the CIA considers the language. There are other languages being spoken and the USA but the CIA considers relevant just two.

    You assume too much...

    [ Parent ]

    reasonable assumption (none / 0) (#81)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:17:39 AM EST

    The original question asked was

    Has the US actually formalised that English is the official language?

    You answered

    In the CIA world factbook
    They list English and Spanish.

    Now tell me. What would a reasonable person assume you meant?

    The CIA factbook lists only the major languages in any country. It is a quick reference guide. If you were trying to infer that the CIA or the US government doesn't consider others relevant, you have made an assumptiion.

    If you wish to know all the languages in the US you can go to ethnologue. It is a fine site for finding almost every language. You can search by country or by language.

    If you go there, you will see that by their count out of 274,000,000 (1999 census), 210,000,000 first language speakers of English and 22,400,000 speakers of Spanish. No other language is spoken by more than 1% of the population with 176 living languages being spoken.

    [ Parent ]

    In the EU (1.66 / 3) (#68)
    by ant0n on Sun May 30, 2004 at 05:13:42 AM EST

    Yes, we may have 20 official languages in the EU, but so what? This has nothing to do with immigration. The EU is not a state; it's a trading zone, nothing more.


    -- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
    Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
    [ Parent ]
    My little story... (2.70 / 10) (#38)
    by ambisinistral on Sat May 29, 2004 at 06:53:19 PM EST

    I'm third generation. For folks that aren't Americans that means my Grandparents were immigrants. Swedish on my father's side, and Hungarian/Slovakian on my mother's side. All of them had come over just after the turn of the century -- just a little before WWI.

    I mention this because early in my life my family lived with my Slovakian grandmother (she was very much the immigrant strong matriarch which is stereo-typed in old movies so much). She attended church services helf in Slovak, and talked to her older friends in Slovak. However, she would never talk Slovak around us children (my Mother doesn't even know it well).

    As bad as she was sometimes treated, and eastern Europeans of that wave of immigration were not treated well, she very much believed in the melting pot. Her attitude was we were Americans and shouldn't waste our time pining for the peasant life of Europe. Most folks from that cohort of immigration strongly believed that their children, raised as Americans, would be the generation that really benefited from what America had to offer.

    To me the legal Latin immigrants are a lot like the Italians. They stick much more stronger to their language and roots, but they are Americanized none the less. In the popular media -- Lost in East LA comes to mind -- a lot of the humor comes from Cheech being so Americanized that he really doesn't fit into Mexico once he ends up trapped there. There is a lot of schmaltzy romanticizing of Tiajauna and latin culture in the movie, yet in the end he is leading immigrants North to his style of living.

    As others have pointed out, a lot of the problem with enclaves that stick to Spanish to the exclusion of English is that they are the illegal immigrants -- many of them here for economic reasons with no pretense of wanting to join the melting pot of American culture. Their mercenary needs should not drive American policy IMHO. For decades we have understood that a common language was a necessity to binding such a diverse group of people together, I think that is still valid today.



    What a bad decision! (3.00 / 5) (#214)
    by Milo Minderbender on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:03:02 AM EST

    "However, she would never talk Slovak around us children (my Mother doesn't even know it well)."
    Childhood is by far the best time to learn a second language. Bilingual parents that don't use their second language around their children are making such an educational mistake! Children are entirely capable of distinguishing between the language used at home and the language used by the population (outside of home). I could reel off some anecdotes, but I won't. My girlfriend and I have different first languages and can both speak both languages. You'd better believe we'll be using the "foreign" one at home with children should we procreate.

    --------------------
    This comment is for the good of the syndicate.
    [ Parent ]
    encounter (none / 1) (#252)
    by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 08:38:07 PM EST

    The first time I ever encountered a fluent bilingual person was in Holland. I met an American man who was married to a Dutch woman. He had two five year children with him. I asked if they were twins because they looked so alike. They were not. One was his, the other was a neighborhood playmate of his son. It started us talking. His son was bilingual from his first words onward. The man and his wife had made a conscious decision to encourage bilingualism in their children.

    His child had playmates who spoke only English and playmates who spoke only Dutch. He naturally spoke only the necessary language needed depending on who he was with. When in mixed company, he translated conversations between playmates. The child didn't see anything unusual in his ability.

    I thought it was awesome.

    [ Parent ]

    Yep. Anecdotes like that! Thanks. /nt (none / 0) (#263)
    by Milo Minderbender on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 06:23:40 AM EST



    --------------------
    This comment is for the good of the syndicate.
    [ Parent ]
    Well... (none / 2) (#272)
    by ambisinistral on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 07:14:33 PM EST

    I think is kind of hard to compare the two immigrations. One contemporary, to a relatively small European country.

    The other other was a young girl who, 95 years ago, spent two weeks in steerage crossing an ocean to a continent sized country.

    Where I grew up, had all of those ethnic groups insisted on building little Slovakias, and little Romanias, and little Serbias, etc., etc., would the U.S. be a better place? I don't think that wave of immigrants had any intention of transplanting the frictions of Old Europe into the New World.

    Prior to the multi-cultural business they used to try to pound the concept of tolerance into people's heads. Of course there were areas where tolerance fell apart, but for the most part it actually worked quite well. I grew up in an Eastern European ethnic neighborhood with Serbian, Croat, Armenian, Hungarian, Polish, Russian and other kids. Back in the Old World we would have been sticking knives in each other over 500 year old border disputes. In my neighborhood we were just American kids who played with each other.

    That's what that wave of immigrants wanted.



    [ Parent ]
    nobody is illegal (none / 3) (#240)
    by noproblema on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 06:39:41 PM EST

    if you want integrate that people why you don't give papers to all? they are workers, not mercenaries. Open yours services to they, schools, hospitals, unions, legal counsel, etc. If you make them live in semi-clandestinity then you will get mafias and ghetos. For the new comers is the only way to survive.

    "Balcanization", as integration, needs two sides at least. You (US policy) are actively discriminating hispanic inmigrants under the label illegal. I think that a better term for describe it is apartheid.

    Also I think that the situation is not exclusive to the US. In Europe is the same or worse, but in this case the illegal are mainly africans and the danger is called islamism. See the efforts for include a reference to christianity in the preamble of the EU constitution.



    [ Parent ]

    Spanish is useless (1.09 / 11) (#43)
    by qpt on Sat May 29, 2004 at 07:42:59 PM EST

    It's only spoken in a few areas of the US, and not in any I would care to live in. While it's spoken in many nations, again, not in any I would want to live in or visit.

    I would've been annoyed if I had been required to learn such a worthless language in school.

    Domine Deus, creator coeli et terrae respice humilitatem nostram.

    really useless... (none / 0) (#369)
    by robertitico on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 12:11:20 AM EST

    Knowing spanish would let you understand that smart sig you have... without actually learning any LATIN.

    While it's spoken in many nations, again, not in any I would want to live in or visit

    Uh dude, what a boring guy. Anyway, enjoy your Hamburgers!


    R.

    [ Parent ]
    -1 US centric (1.16 / 6) (#46)
    by jadibd on Sat May 29, 2004 at 08:45:00 PM EST

    Why waste the opportunity to write a general article about integration of foreign cultures into the prevalent culture and about what happens, if the prevalent culture is changed due to an overwhelmning number of immigrants? AFAIK, for example, Berlin, Germany, has the biggest turkish community outside Turkey itself. I'm pretty sure that there are many more examples like this.

    I think that, by focussing on "hispanic immigrants inside us", you miss a great opportunity to compare different angles implemented in different cultures/countries/cities.

    limited knowledge (2.25 / 4) (#48)
    by adimovk5 on Sat May 29, 2004 at 09:04:09 PM EST

    Unfortunately I have little knowledge of immigration issues outside the US. I met many Germans and Dutch while living in Europe and discussed immigration problems with them, but that is as far as my experience goes. I've read a lot about the problems Europeans are having but my contribution to that discussion would probably be filled with errors.

    There are also constraints on how much people are willing to read.

    Perhaps non-US people could contribute to threads here.

    [ Parent ]

    Melbourne (none / 0) (#222)
    by Cackmobile on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 10:08:37 AM EST

    Is the biggest greek city after athens.

    [ Parent ]
    Goddamned Mexicans (1.00 / 28) (#52)
    by cute fluffy Troll on Sat May 29, 2004 at 10:50:29 PM EST

    I'm so sick of all the beaners from Mexico and Puerto Rico and all those places.  People say they're different, but they're not.

    I don't care where you're from: Mexico, Cuba, Ecuador... it doesn't matter, you're still a filthy Mexican piece of trash.

    I always see these fat Mexican bitches with their fat little theiving runts running around eating Cheetos, speaking Spanish, collecting welfare, and stealing public education.  Pisses me the fuck off.  This is America.  Learn fucking English.  Stop polluting my gene pool with your subhuman debris.

    What do you call an East LA swimming pool?

    Bean dip.

    Quite Frankly (2.75 / 4) (#53)
    by lukme on Sat May 29, 2004 at 11:58:47 PM EST

    In my family there are 2 people I have known who have migrated here.

    First was my grandmother. When she came to this country, she had to learn english. Even so, her first child went to school not speaking any english - her last child went to school only speaking english.

    Second was my wife.

    I find it interesting that Although these two never met, and have very different education backgrounds, they shared the same opion: to live in the USA, one must learn to speak english.

    Fact is it opens up doors and simplifies communications.




    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    different times (2.75 / 4) (#62)
    by CAIMLAS on Sun May 30, 2004 at 04:35:06 AM EST

    It seems that both past and present immigrants decided t ocome to America for a better life.

    However, it would also seem that the definition of "better life" has changed significantly in the last, oh, 50 years.

    It would seem that previous generations of immigrants have always wanted to be an "American". At those times, being American meant several things: being hard-working, being part of a larger community, making a better life for their family, and having the freedoms to be an individual. All four items were essential to "being American".

    It would seem that the image of "being American" has been degrigated to that of an uneducated, self-centered, social misfit with no desire in doing anything besides making their own lives easier.

    Earlier immigrants seemed to understand that in order to make a better life for their progeny, work - hard work - was required. They realized that something could not rightfully or honestly be aquired for nothing. American culture of "something for nothing" has pervaded Mexico to such a degree that now the Mexican immigrants no longer appear to have this ethos. Given my interactions with my neighbors (most of them mexican), I can say that their largest bent seems to be on aquisition of material goods, and not things such as family time or community.

    (This isn't to say that those of us here in the US already are in any bit better, or that our ancestors were, either. If you think that this is what I'm saying, sod off - you're being a politically correct tool.)
    --

    Socialism and communism better explained by a psychologist than a political theorist.
    [ Parent ]

    and your point is? (none / 1) (#78)
    by FeersumAsura on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:40:36 AM EST

    It would seem that the image of "being American" has been degrigated to that of an uneducated, self-centered, social misfit with no desire in doing anything besides making their own lives easier

    Sounds like they've adjusted to fit in perfectly.
    ==
    It didn't work the first time.
    [ Parent ]

    Yea, eh, eh, just look at the prez. (none / 1) (#79)
    by lukme on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:13:20 AM EST

    Sorry, my best bevis/buthead immatation.

    I remember back when George Bush was president and the vice president couldn't spell potato - well, some of us in college at the time joked about what if that guy became president. Unfortunately, now we know.


    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    [ Parent ]
    potatoe (none / 3) (#96)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 11:20:15 AM EST

    For all the people who missed the "Potatoe Incident".

    Look what happenned to the kid.

    Now, fast forward five years to 1997, when The Trentonian decided to look up William Figueroa to see how he was doing after his hour of fame.

    By then, he was a 17-year-old high school dropout who had fathered a child and was working a low-paying job at an auto showroom.

    Quayle, Mr. Family Values, couldn't be reached for comment on what had become of his "potato'' nemesis.



    [ Parent ]
    I have a dictionary. (none / 2) (#107)
    by Mizuno Ami on Sun May 30, 2004 at 01:23:52 PM EST

    In that dictionary is an entry for pototoe.

    The dictionaries we had when I was in elementary school when we read _The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe_, didn't have an entry for colour. Does that mean that colour is misspelled?

    It's a lot like Al Gore inventing the internet. Anyone who says that's what he said and is being serious has no credibility and needs to learn how to do fact-checking instead of rattling off sound bytes.



    [ Parent ]
    It also has 'potato' (none / 0) (#123)
    by jongleur on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:40:01 PM EST

    which means that Quayle shouldn't have been correcting the kid. The incident still means Quayle is a very poor speller.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    That's odd. (none / 0) (#198)
    by lukme on Mon May 31, 2004 at 08:30:52 PM EST

    My Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, (c) 1963, has an entry for colour on page 164 and an entry for potato on page 664. However, there is no entry for potatoe.




    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    [ Parent ]
    That's odd (none / 1) (#199)
    by lukme on Mon May 31, 2004 at 08:41:40 PM EST

    My copy of Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary (c) 1963, has entries for both colour and for potato. However there is no entry for potatoe.




    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    [ Parent ]
    Great comment about this on CNN (2.40 / 5) (#80)
    by lukme on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:17:17 AM EST

    "I can't even talk the way these people talk, 'Why you ain't,' 'Where you is' ... and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk," Cosby said, according to published reports. "And then I heard the father talk ... Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth."

    This was taken from an interview quoted by CNN.


    -----------------------------------
    It's awfully hard to fly with eagles when you're a turkey.
    [ Parent ]
    Reenactment of an arguable equivelance (2.86 / 30) (#69)
    by K5 ASCII reenactment players on Sun May 30, 2004 at 05:36:19 AM EST

                           Earl! Did you know a troll's taken over our basement,
                           and that he demands we learn to speak Trollvish?
    Respect his diversity,    /
    Martha.  His people      /
    can be so hot headed.   / 
       \                        |\ __
                           O    | |  |  Spugnug bluzkak!
        O                 <V>   |o|  |  Ig! Kaspoom!
       |L/                /_\   | |  |/
       |-|\                |\    \|__|     


    I like how you portrayed the multiculturalist (2.44 / 9) (#115)
    by tebrow on Sun May 30, 2004 at 04:58:52 PM EST

    as a livingroom masturbator.

    [ Parent ]
    Sigged! (none / 0) (#238)
    by Russell Dovey on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 03:58:12 PM EST

    Spugnug bluzkak! Ig! Kaspoom! - K5 ASCII reenactment players

    "Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
    [ Parent ]

    Isn't the US ideology about chances? (1.50 / 4) (#71)
    by megid on Sun May 30, 2004 at 05:44:56 AM EST

    People have the right of "pursuit of happiness", not "support to happiness", isnt it? In this vein, shouldnt the immigrants themselves pay for the program?

    And also, as long as the money belongs to the english speaking, why fear that spanish will take over? I cannot imagine a situation actually _forcing_ any US company to employ non-english speaking people.

    --
    "think first, write second, speak third."

    Employment of Hispanics (none / 3) (#173)
    by cdguru on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:38:46 PM EST

    The problem isn't caused by employers being forced to employ non-English speaking people, it is that they will work for less. Economically it is foolish to pay Worker A more money for doing the same job that Worker B can do - with the underlying assumption that it is illegal to choose employees based on language skills. Given the state of employment law in the US, it would not surprise me to find people actively believing that such might be illegal. Also, you never know what people will sue over.

    [ Parent ]
    I didn't know... (none / 1) (#74)
    by Kuranes on Sun May 30, 2004 at 06:20:11 AM EST

    ...that a definition for balkanization really does exist.

    As far as it seems to me, this is a pseudo-notion: If you don't want to take the time and analyze a troubled political system which has problems of power struggles and nationalism, you can call it "balkanized" (as well as any political movement can be called "proto-totalitarian", since everything is "proto-anything")

    And, as you may know, the Balkan always starts in the country east of you.


    Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
    Balkanization (none / 1) (#92)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:58:40 AM EST

    usually refers to a situation in which an enclave has begun to see themselves as a unit distinct from the ruling state. If the state refuses to recognize the the enclave, the enclave agitates for independence and will seek violence to achieve those ends.

    In the Balkans, this activity produced several small wars and finally World War I. After the Cold War, it produced the years of war until the dissolution of Yugoslavia.

    Czechoslovakia split into two countries before war could erupt.

    The USSR dissolved before war could erupt however its constituent parts didn't learn the same lesson. Russia is fighting Chechnya and struggling to hold onto other seccessionist areas. Armenia supports ethnic Armenian secessionists in Nagorno-Karabakh and militarily occupies 16% of Azerbaijan.

    Sudan is split North Muslim and South non-Muslim.

    Cyprus is split into Turkish and Greek areas.



    [ Parent ]

    This is not the definition given in the link. (none / 0) (#110)
    by Kuranes on Sun May 30, 2004 at 01:39:15 PM EST

    And it's still a very vague one. Funny, too, that all of these countries are east from me...


    Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
    [ Parent ]
    Sorry about the link (none / 1) (#147)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 11:35:26 PM EST

    At first glance it seemed to be the right definition.

    I'll have to be more careful.

    [ Parent ]

    Emigrating to another country (2.36 / 11) (#86)
    by werner on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:22:56 AM EST

    and not bothering to learn the language is both ignorant and fucking rude.

    I think it's terrible that Hispanic immigrants to the US don't necessarily learn English. Having said that, in my experience, the expats who are most reluctant to learn the language of the host country are English-speakers.

    Difference between 1st world and 3rd (none / 0) (#122)
    by jongleur on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:28:04 PM EST

    You're right, at least if you're talking about 3rd world countries.  I checked my own attitude; I'd think it a matter of respect to learn a 1st world host country's language, but, would think that a 3rd world country would be better off speaking English.  Mea culpa.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    Rude? (none / 1) (#172)
    by cdguru on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:31:44 PM EST

    The usual excuse given is the preservation of the unique cultural aspects of the illegal immigrants. For them to learn English would deprive them of their unique status and instead of "diversity" we would have "homogeneity".

    I believe this kind of attitude is extremely damaging to both the eventual assimilation of the immigrant population and to the host country.

    [ Parent ]

    lame excuse (none / 1) (#193)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 06:54:00 PM EST

    I agree.

    I don't understood why that excuse holds such power. There is plenty of diversity throughout the English speaking parts of the United States. That's why we speak of New England, the Midwest, the South, and the Southwest. They're not just regions, they're cultures too. A language doesn't define the culture.

    A common language eases communication.

    [ Parent ]

    Heh... (none / 1) (#217)
    by Milo Minderbender on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:17:15 AM EST

    Like all the English in Spain! They set up their little communities with their pubs and their fish and chips and never bother to learn anything but saying "gracias" to the checkout girl at the supermarket that sells marmite and haggis! Inconsiderate bastards!

    --------------------
    This comment is for the good of the syndicate.
    [ Parent ]
    If you consider google an authority (none / 1) (#91)
    by vqp on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:54:24 AM EST

    Spanish is the second or third language used to access google google's zeitgeist
    As a side note, that would mean india's and china's internet population prefer to access google in english.
    My opinion is that governments shouldn't regulate nothing about languages or culture.


    happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

    English, German, Japanese, Spanish, French [nt] (none / 0) (#129)
    by egeland on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:22:39 PM EST



    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]
    are you blind ? (none / 0) (#170)
    by vqp on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:21:49 PM EST

    I gathered the data from the little chart in zeitgeist, in there japanese is obviously less thick than spanish

    happiness = d(Reality - Expectations) / dt

    [ Parent ]
    Layered? (none / 0) (#194)
    by egeland on Mon May 31, 2004 at 07:39:00 PM EST

    As I understood it, each layer in the graph adds to the ones below it.

    Of course, since no raw numerical data is on the zeitgeist page, it's hard to tell.

    It's certainly possible that each coloured band represents the percentage of the total, in which case thickness certainly matters, and you are quite correct.

    I blame Google for making it unclear. :)

    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]

    Spanish Citizenship (2.00 / 5) (#98)
    by Bossk on Sun May 30, 2004 at 11:50:57 AM EST

    There are some things about legal spanish citizenship that have always bothered me because they don't follow in a logical manner.

    Correct me if I'm wrong(this is mainly heresay), but there are two dubious ways for becoming an American citizen: an illegal immigrant has a child in America, that child is an American citzen, and a legal citizen has a familial connection to someone from a Spanish country. Of course, this is true for all immigrant to US citizenship from any country.

    There are definately integration problems going on here in the US. Coporate management hire many hispanics to positions that require customer interaction despite their poor ability to speak English. Most Americans put up with this, allowing  companies to get away with it. Since all companies do this across the spectrum of a given commoditity, gas stations for instance, it's pretty hard to refrain from having to interact with someone with this communication barrier. This is a case where corporate interests are ruining the ease of simple transactions and probably imparting stress and dismay on many customers.

    As far as using tax money to fund ESL, this is a corrupt use of tax dollars for the same reason funding anything specialized is, but this a topic for another discussion. Still, it'd probably be useful to American society as a whole. Conversely, its not going to stop self-sustaining pockets of hispanic communities from maintaining a tight-knit seclusion from the English speaking world.

    illegals (2.40 / 5) (#111)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 01:40:35 PM EST

    Correct me if I'm wrong(this is mainly heresay), but there are two dubious ways for becoming an American citizen: an illegal immigrant has a child in America, that child is an American citzen, and a legal citizen has a familial connection to someone from a Spanish country. Of course, this is true for all immigrant to US citizenship from any country.

    Illegal immigrants born in the US become citizens because of this:

    Amend ment XIV

    Section 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    Modern courts have decided to ignore the clause "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" and the original intent which was to make citizens of the ex-slaves living in the United States. Prior to the 14th Amendment, ex-slaves were not recognized as Americans in some states even if another state recognized them as a state citizen.

    In the Dred Scott Case, Chief Justice Taney for the Court ruled that United States citizenship was enjoyed by two classes of individuals: (1) white persons born in the United States as descendents of ''persons, who were at the time of the adoption of the Constitution recognized as citizens in the several States and [who] became also citizens of this new political body,'' the United States of America, and (2) those who, having been ''born outside the dominions of the United States,'' had migrated thereto and been naturalized therein. The States were competent, he continued, to confer state citizenship upon anyone in their midst, but they could not make the recipient of such status a citizen of the United States. The ''Negro,'' or ''African race,'' according to the Chief Justice, was ineligible to attain United States citizenship, either from a State or by virtue of birth in the United States, even as a free man descended from a Negro residing as a free man in one of the States at the date of ratification of the Constitution. Congress, first in Sec. 1 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and then in the first sentence of Sec. 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, set aside the Dred Scott holding in a sentence ''declaratory of existing rights, and affirmative of existing law. . . .''

    discus sion link

    At no time was it considered that illegal immigrants might travel to the United States and give birth to citizens. This is a liberal interpretation of the courts.

    As you know, the Fourteenth Amendment, which confers citizenship on all persons born in the United States, was adopted shortly after the Civil War in order to ensure the benefits and privileges of citizenship for African-Americans, which they had been denied by the Supreme Court's disastrous Dred Scott decision. Because the U.S. did not limit immigration in 1868 when the Fourteenth Amendment was approved, and therefore there were no illegal immigrants, the issue of citizenship for children of illegal immigrants was nonexistent. Thus, the granting of automatic citizenship to these children is a totally inadvertent and unforeseen result of the amendment.

    In order for the Supreme Court to accept a statutory definition of "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States, it would have to construe two previous decisions on the Fourteenth Amendment--- United States v. Wong Kim Ark and Plyler v. Doe--so narrowly as to make them practically meaningless with respect to citizenship. In essence, the Court would have to reverse a century of understanding of what the Fourteenth Amendment means. That seems so unlikely that, rather than pass a statute that appears certain to be ruled unconstitutional, I believe it makes more sense for Congress to proceed with a Constitutional amendment.

    no illegal immigrants link

    It is the policy of the State Department to encourage the joining of families. Legal residents can sponsor family members who wish to immigrate to the United States. This moves them ahead of people who have no sponsor. It makes sense but I don't believe it is the best policy. We want the best people to move in. There is no proof that the policy is better for the United States.



    [ Parent ]

    Race == Neo-Liberal Smokscreen (1.90 / 10) (#99)
    by Peahippo on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:01:29 PM EST

    Yeah, this is an interesting article, but unfortunately it deals with the topic as if the car can be swerved from the brick wall in time before the horrendous accident can occur.

    The reality is that the car has already smashed into that brick wall and we are busily flying forward inside that car, our heads aiming for the windshields and our chests for various car hardpoints.

    America has already Balkanized. It's as obvious as the nose on your face. Racially, Southern CA and much of FL are gone to the Latinos.

    But race is just a neo-Liberal smokescreen. A much more important Balkanization has happened ... an economic one, in which the coasts have split off of the heartland. Heck, that happened in significant terms about a generation ago. The Midwest went into economic freefall in the 1970s and simply never recovered. The coasts and Texamerica wanted nothing to do with the Midwest any further and essentially monopolized the investment capital needed to recover her lost manufacturing base.

    The Midwest is like a Third World country inside America. I know, because I live there.

    But the neo-Liberals like to cover all of this up. It's just not Politically Correct to acknowledge the depreciated state of the people of the Midwest. It's apparently much more to America's liking to go on and on about the financial "successes" of the coasters, and whine incessantly about racial differences while the undercurrent of "damn those white trash" sentiment runs amok.

    Since the Midwest is being ignored, that very mechanism of dismissal indicates how America's Balkanization is occurring. It is indeed inept to continue to point out racial differences, considering the strong economic splits that have already occurred and that have already made significant portions of America into No Visit zones.


    geoeconomics (none / 3) (#101)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:35:54 PM EST

    Large parts of the South and Southwest never reached the heights the Midwest attained. The Midwest was fortunate to reach that level. It does hurt more to fall from a greater height though.

    Texas hit a boom with the discovery of oil. The oil problems of the 1970s hit Texas hard. During the recovery, the governments at every level pushed hard to diversify the economy into every sector. Since then, no one sector collapse can cause widespread damage.

    Most of America suffers from the economic consequences of geography. Coastal areas almost always outperform inland areas. They have easier access to ports and they generally have a good water supply. In most nations, you will find wealthier coastal areas than inland areas.

    Balkanization has not occurred until the people living in the enclave try to separate from the state in power, like the situation in the Balkans. People must believe there is more to be gained by being independent than by being part of the current state.

    What are the advantages of a business starting in or relocating to the Midwest? If there are many, locals should actively work to bring commerce to the region.

    [ Parent ]

    En Garde (2.75 / 4) (#112)
    by Peahippo on Sun May 30, 2004 at 02:02:43 PM EST

    Balkanization has not occurred until the people living in the enclave try to separate from the state in power, like the situation in the Balkans. People must believe there is more to be gained by being independent than by being part of the current state.

    Incorrect. The Balkanization of America has the character of the government abandoning the citizens, not the other way around. This is exactly the thing I alluded to in my posting, when I accused the coasts of monopolizing capital. The only "citizens" that government is responsive to nowadays are corporations and other business entities, not individuals. This is no more glaringly apparent than in the American Midwest.

    This is a news media "memory hole". It doesn't support the yuppie myth of increasing progress, and the yuppies are clearly the desired target audience of news outlets. How many times must we hear "everything's fine so keep spending" before we realize what real propaganda it is?

    What are the advantages of a business starting in or relocating to the Midwest? If there are many, locals should actively work to bring commerce to the region.

    I'm tired of dealing with this commerce myth. The "advantages" of business in the Midwest are manifestly good for certain business, but very bad for their employees. The single factor that most makes this a terrible thing is the spectre of tax abatements. As long as business capital is much more fluid than consumer wealth, you end up with wage slaves. And wage slavery is an important mechanism for driving the Midwest into Third World status. I've said it before, but no one wants to listen: you cannot tax a dead economy and expect a common good to come from it.

    Tax abatements and other forms of capital welfare are busily destroying the remaining individual prosperity in the Midwest, from whatever existed to begin with. I see that at least one municipality has undertaken to hold companies like Wal-Mart responsible for having a culture of workers who are inescapeably also on the social welfare rolls. We need to see more of that to make what's happening obvious-unto-action in what remains of Midwestern culture.


    [ Parent ]
    Parry (none / 3) (#146)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 11:25:20 PM EST

    Neglect. The Midwest is neglected not Balkanized. The Midwest is not being oppressed. The rights of people there are not being denied.

    Responsiveness. Government responds to active citizens. If you want the government's attention, you must be vocal and you must have numbers. Special interest groups, corporations, and lobbyists are very vocal. They make governments notice them. Citizens can be heard if they unite. Look at what happenned in Minnesota. A third party mobilized and took the state.

    If you are waiting for the government to come and help you because you need it to, you are in for a long wait. American government doesn't work that way.

    Monopolizing Capital. You are believing in a false assumption. "If the Coasts have capital and the Midwest does not then the Coast are monopolizing capital." Most people with capital believe that the coasts are the best place to invest. There are more businessess and more consumers concentrated there. It makes sense.

    There are plenty of capitalists who would love to invest in places where they could outperform the Coasts. People must work to bring the opportunities to the money. Otherwise, capitalists will go where they know there are opportunities.

    Taxes. It is foolish for a government to try to tax its way out of a slump. Hell, it's foolish for a government to rely on taxation period. Government should always be minimal so that ups and downs in the economy have little effect on it. If your government insists on taxing the hell out of businesses in the area, they will all leave at the first opportunity.

    If the local government is forcing businesses like Wal-Mart to do its bidding, it's called fascism - state control plus private ownership. Wal-Mart will leave. You will have killed the goose and will never have any more golden eggs. You can't fix a bad situation by beating the hell out of the businesses who are there. You must attract new businesses that will pay more.

    Commerce. What would you do if there were no govvernment? What if there were no taxes to be collected? How would you attract commerce? You start small. People have needs in your area. Fulfill the needs. If the town wants fresh bread, build a bakery. If people need clothes, make clothes. Start small. As businesses open, they attract other businesses. The larger the economy, the more businesses will move in.



    [ Parent ]

    {clang!} (2.40 / 5) (#152)
    by Peahippo on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:28:57 AM EST

    Your post is cogent and worthy of an itemized response.

    Your first two paragraphs are essentially cultural summaries of what I've complained about all along.

    You can say this kind of thing all you want, and the news media says the same thing by omission ("nothing bad is happening in the Midwest, but we don't say much about it anyway"), but you can't wipe away the intentional impoverishment of the Midwest by governments at several levels and corporations.

    When government funds and attention are monopolized by the wealthy, then oppression is happening, and rights are being denied. The difference here is that people like you don't see it that way since as far as you're concerned, the lower middle class can just go work at McDonald's or something. However, on McD's wages, too bad for the worker's health insurance, their roads, the price of their gasoline, and overall overhead costs like rent/mortgage and taxes. And -- oh yeah -- too bad for their self respect. Men who were able to support families now cannot (usually without getting into appalling debt). And their sons and daughters are entering the workforce with the same realization of impending doom.

    Government isn't supposed to be a smooth slide for the wealthy and influential, and simultaneously an impassable rocky gorge for the individual. You should not need a representative organization to be heard by government officials and agencies. That you accept this current status quo doesn't do away with its travesty and overall affront to the formation of good government under Constitutional law. The government is obligated to deal with individuals fairly. Once you get away from that, then the public has moral license to overthrow it, violently if need be. And I'd prefer to not have a revolution happen, you know?

    A government that expects to avoid violence should learn to listen to all citizens, not just the ones with lawyers in tow, and certainly not just the ones with fistfuls of cash.

    Monopolizing Capital. You are believing in a false assumption.

    I strongly doubt it. Some of the energy woes of CA were documented cases of intentional withholding of energy supplies to drive up prices. In short, price fixing. In this kind of way, capital is moved around to drive areas into a desperation and then they can be immorally exploited. This is what is happening to the Midwest. Hence, capital is being withheld.

    I have heard too many times in just the last 6 years about factory closings followed by workers lamenting "we were profitable, so what happened?". What happened is something that Smedley Butler warned us about in 1933. The capital base that America enjoyed is being cashed out to the detriment of the people who made it possible: the workforce.

    It is foolish for a government to try to tax its way out of a slump. [...] You must attract new businesses that will pay more.

    Strong start, weak finish. I still don't have much of an answer to the immense problem posed by the "attract businesses" angle. The best I can come up with is a personal model. When my income collapsed several years ago, I kept shrinking my expenses ... and shrinking them ... and continued to shrink them until I effectively lost my home. Faced with a collapsed economy, government should be reducing expenses to the levels I faced. Unfortunately, governments are as irresponsible as the modern 14-yr-old girl, considering how often her parents continue to bail her out. The analogy is particularly apt since around here, the voter continues to bail out high government expenses.

    Around here, and in other Midwest places I have seen, there is a tax war going on, and going on at "Cold War" levels that you'd not expect to see from a supposedly civil society.

    Commerce.

    Spot on. All my blather about the individual is pretty pointless if said individual doesn't work for his own prosperity. Of course, in the meantime, he has to lie and cheat to get out from under the taxation and fees which target his specifically. Small businesses are under an assload of overhead in this country. Much like how the middle class is being assaulted, the small business is just viable enough to attack, but is too small to successfully resist.

    The lying and cheating bothers me. I've had to do it myself, or I'd actually be homeless by now. I am bothered by a government structure that is specifically molded to attack the middle class.

    I look forward to your riposte. Good footwork, too.


    [ Parent ]
    Capital being withheld .. (none / 0) (#153)
    by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:54:00 AM EST

    In this kind of way, capital is moved around to drive areas into a desperation and then they can be immorally exploited. This is what is happening to the Midwest. Hence, capital is being withheld.

    In the California energy crisis it was deliberate, as you say; who, according to you is doing this now?
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]

    J'Accuse! (none / 1) (#187)
    by Peahippo on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:52:51 PM EST

    If you mean "who is withholding capital from the Midwest now", then I can only accuse the coasts and the Midwest's own capitalists. The coasts come into play due to the chain of corporate ownership.

    That's the short answer. The longer answer to your question is:

    I don't have an exact list of the usual suspects, since I'll have to wait 4 to 8 years before sufficient exposees hit the bookshelves to give me names, dates and amounts.

    The Aug 2003 blackout demonstrates what happens when you economize too much (i.e. withhold capital). Simply the lack of tree trimming by First Energy made the other suspiciously-small bottlenecks more prone to catastrophic failure. And did these savings get passed to consumers? Hell, no. Ohio (particularly Toledo, where I live) pays high electric rates. And Ohio's PUCO is probably going to let the rates remain in the "still trying to deregulate" zone for even more years than were envisioned before ... allowing First Energy to continue to suck on the tit of fees that allegedly cover "stranded costs".


    [ Parent ]
    Riposte (1.75 / 4) (#163)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 11:13:15 AM EST

    Constitution. The government formed by the Constitution was designed to be minimalist. It is not there to solve all our problems for you. It is there to make sure that no one is able to stand in your way when you work to make a better life for yourself.

    An organized representation is not needed to get the attention of the government. It does help your cause. However, once again, it is not the government's duty to make all your pains go away. Your problems are yours to solve not the government's. Are you a free adult or a ward of the government?

    Victimhood. Your post has the sound of a victim. All the forces of capitalism are arrayed against you. Why doesn't the government save you? Why won't the corporations bring jobs with high salaries? The position you are in is not the government's fault nor is it the government's responsibility to rescue you. Save yourself.

    Torpor. Self respect isn't handed out by government or corporations. Self respect is grown in the hearts and minds of men when they produce good work. It is up to people to go forth and create the world. People who wait for the world to come to them and save them will be forever disappointed. If it is your intention to wait for the world to bring you aid and comfort, I have one suggestion for you. Buy lottery tickets.

    Capital Motion. If you are attracting businesses by offering only low wages and low taxes, those businesses will move often. They will move to the best grazing ground. What else would they do? Anything else is illogical. If you don't like it, stop advertising for those kinds of businesses. If the national chains keep closing down and retreating at the first sign of trouble, stop seeking them. Grow your own. Start a business. Keep it local. A purely Midwest chain would develop a loyal following.

    California. California is being driven into the ground because it has a socialist government pretending to be something else. It has excessive taxation and regulation. Those taxes and rules force prices up. If doing business has an added expense it is ALWAYS passed on to the consumer. The governemnt reacts by passing new laws.

    When it attempts to add market forces to a controlled economy, it always causes unintended problems. It's not because they are stupid people. It's because economies are complicated beyond the ability of any central planning committee to understand.

    The documented causes you seak of are nonsense. California's energy crisis happenned in California only. It was caused by California creating regulations that inhibited the development of new supply and overregulating the current supply. Price controls didn't match true market conditions. When it decided to deregulate it did it poorly.

    Spending. Reducing spending is not the way out of any economic slump. If everyone reduces spending the entire economy takes a dive. Businesses can't sell goods. People get fired. The whole economy spirals into depression. Reducing spending is a good personal habit and can keep you out of debt. It can't help you climb out of a bad economy.

    To climb out of personal economic depression, you have two solutions available. You can find a new job if one is available. If not you can create a job and become self employed. Your other choice is to move. Cash out. Pack all your troubles in a bag and move on. There are opportunities out there. Find them. If you are single, it's easy. If you are married it's harder. If you have a family, it's very hard but not impossible. People have been doing it for ages.

    Capitalism. American capitalism isn't designed to happen at the expense of the workforce. Sometimes it just works that way. The owners of the business are running the business in their own interest. They are trying to provide a living for themselves. It's a very selfish enterprise. If paying workers better wages contributes to the cause that's what they'll do. If relocating is better, that's what they'll do. It doesn't matter if the business was profitable. What matters is whether somewhere else is MORE profitable.

    If the workers don't like it, they can quit. They can form communes or co-ops. They can buy out the business and become worker-owners. There are many possibilities. We live in a free society not a socialist state. It's time people started acting like it.



    [ Parent ]

    A touch, a touch I do confess! (none / 2) (#190)
    by Peahippo on Mon May 31, 2004 at 03:56:02 PM EST

    (Great way to cast my concerns into the victim/socialist light, friend. That has worked on Fox News for some time. "Can't find a job? You must have done something wrong!" But unlike that venue, I get my talkback. On the positive side, you have a dense posting and I'll attempt to honor it.)

    Welfare is morally degrading. It's too bad that people don't realize that when they think that keeping the food stamp program is BAD, but at the same time handing another 10-year tax abatement to a corporation is GOOD.

    It's not that I'd rather be a free adult -- I *am*, but it is readily apparent that the state likes me to be the paradoxical payer ward; there IS a dependency going on, but government has become dependent upon my income stream.

    As I said before, a Cold War of taxation is going on. But in order to secure my own prosperity, I've had to break the law almost continually. Meanwhile, prosperity is being handed to the corporations at breakneck paces by a government that (as you'll recall) has failed to pay any significant attention to anyone but said businesses. The average corp makes its "obey law" and "break law" decisions for a few percentage points of profit ... not as a matter of survival.

    it is not the government's duty to make all your pains go away.

    Considering how government acts to stave off lower profit margins for businesses (primarily corporations, and the larger the better), yet effectively tells me to go get stuffed when I face homelessness, then I'd have to say that it's MY duty to make sure GOVERNMENT goes away. And the pointed way to start that task, is to hit them right in the addiction: tax revenue.

    They will move to the best grazing ground. What else would they do? Anything else is illogical.

    They don't just graze. They have to live with the people they are seeking to impoverish in droves now. Talk about illogical. Businesses and their society are intertwined. Separation of them produces absurdity.

    The documented causes you seak of are nonsense. California's energy crisis happenned in California only.

    You need to read some more news. Price fixing was a definite feature of the energy barons who were in a position to so affect CA. Since it's only been a couple of years, we don't have all the names, but we know enough to judge by now. I think you are dangerously close to willful ignorance about this topic, friend.

    Don't get me wrong. CA's overly socialist tendencies are disturbing. That pack in Sacramento are due a wake up call, but like many officials, they will probably never have to account for their actions. I place firm blame for that on the body politic. "Fool me once" ... as the saying goes, the people of CA have been fooled for many years and it's time they face their own shame.

    Reducing spending is not the way out of any economic slump.

    It is for a person facing homelessness, and is for a government wasting money at record rates. Unfortunately, the government agrees with your sentiment, and many consumers do also. Fortunately for myself, I know that particular viewpoint is fatal.

    The icon of spending is shadowed inexorably by the icon of DEBT. When last I checked, debt was appallingly expensive. Dropping wages, debt service, and tax/fee overhead are making it unconscionably tougher for a small business to survive. Spending must be curbed.

    Now, when I say spending, I'm talking about "all that stupid shit that you buy but you really don't need". Reducing spending is also a process of readjusting it; since more than ever personal capital is precious, then it should be wisely spent for the long-term.

    Elbert Hubbard paraphrasingly wrote that a man with savings and a home is unavoidably a capitalist. I agree. Unfortunately (and on a sickly positive note, Jefferson's quote about "waking up slaves on the continent their fathers conquered" was correct) that is not the American Way anymore. People commonly spend down their savings until they are deeply in debt, and their overpriced homes can't be reliably paid off with the uncertain income streams of the future.

    Compared to spending-unto-bankruptcy, reducing spending makes sense.

    We live in a free society not a socialist state. It's time people started acting like it.

    Too bad government at all levels doesn't agree with you, and it's further much worse that the body politic succumbs to tearful obedience when government shakes the fear tree to make some crisis apples fall on the people's heads. It is thus, that everyone carries the blame for the current sad state of society. Yes, even me. And talking about it is the least I'm doing to fix it.

    All this, and I haven't even addressed the issue of the current housing bubble. Oy!


    [ Parent ]
    Engagement (none / 1) (#197)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 08:29:30 PM EST

    Casting Aspersions. It was not my intention to end the conversation by painting you as one who chooses to be a victim nor by painting your ideals as socialist. I was merely pointing out facts. Sometimes people are unaware of the hue that their philosophy has taken. I prefer to point these things out and make them visible. Should you still prefer to take those positions, it is your right.

    Welfare. I agree that welfare is a scourge. Whether it is corporate or individual it has far greater potential harm than potential good. I believe that corporate and commercial welfare in all its forms should die.

    In one of my few departures into socialism, I believe in minimal individual welfare. However I differ from the majority of socialists on a few points. Government welfare should not be a right nor an entitlement. It should be made available based on funding through private donations. People should be able to donate to a quasi-governmental organization like the Post Office. No general taxpayer funds should be involved.

    Welfare should be in the form of loans. The money should be a debit against the individual and must be paid back. The money should be used for basic needs like shelter, food, clothing, transportation, health, or education. It should last no longer than two years (the time required for a two year degree or vocational school).

    Dependency. The government does encourage dependency. It likes to play middleman. It likes to take money from the community and then redistribute the money back into the community. It makes people think that government is necessary in all sectors of life.

    You're right about the government being dependent too. It is a social organism and like any other organism it seeks to grow and feed and reproduce. Since the government was given the right to tax corporations and personal incomes, it has developed a tremendous appetite. It also has the right to adjust the amount of taxes it takes in at any time. It's a prescription for disaster.

    Taxes. The fact that taxation is worse in socialist countries does not change the fact that things are bad and getting worse here. It's time to put the moster on a diet. There is no good reason why the government should be able to tax and spend like it does. Much of our aggressive government problems would go away if the government had less money to spend in the first place.

    Manifesto. Income (corporate and individual) taxes should be repealed and replaced with some form of sales tax. Make the tax one equal percentage across the board with no loopholes or exceptions. When people see the true cost of suporting the bloated government on each and every sales receipt, they will be mad as hell. And they won't want to take it anymore.

    Live among the Living. Why do you continue living in a place where you must be a criminal to maintain yourself? Move away. Find a place you can afford, in a town that's growing. Vote with your feet. If enough people do this, the system there will collapse completely. Let it stop. You seem to be intelligent. Stop supporting the system that won't support you. There are better places.

    Revenue. If you withheld every bit of your tax money from the government, it would not hurt it one iota. The government would still feed on the carcasses of your neighbors. It's not enough to be negative. You must make positive change. You must contribute to a better system. If government A is dying (or killing you slowly) move to government B. Build government B into prosperity.

    Synergy. Government, business, and community SHOULD be integrated but not by law. It should happen because it is the best interest of everyone involved. Unfortunately, you can't legislate good behavior into existence. It won't work. You can punish bad behavior but that's where it ends. Trying to legislate good behavior always runs into UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

    You have to start with a good example and work to infect the rest of the community.

    Price Fixing in California. The prices charged by the energy barons were originally set by the government. There were three categories of people in the energy chain - consumers, distributers, and producers. When it began deregulating, California started in the middle. The distributers were allowed to buy cheap energy from producers and sell at market prices to consumers. That combined with an underdeveloped supply. No new facilities had been started in ten years. In fact, no new applications had even been filed. Regulations were too tough. Everyone wanted someone else to deal with the problem.

    So, now supply was too low. Producers were making power at fixed prices. Distributers were buying power and selling it at market prices to consumers. There was more consumer demand than supply. Utilities were forced to buy power at unusually high prices. The government did nothing. The utilities started going bankrupt. The government released controls on the utilities. Prices to businesses and redential customers went sky high. Demand price met supply price.

    Meanwhile, in adjoining Oregon, Nevada and Arizona prices were still reasonable. Californians were not allowed to buy out-of-state energy. Finally the government allowed out-of-state purchase. The crisis abated.

    The correct way to handle deregulation. Deregulate from the bottom upward. First allow the end consumer to buy power from any adjoining district, including out-of-state. Wait a couple years; allow utilities to buy power from any distributer, including out-of-state. Two years later, allow producers to sell at market prices. There will be enough supply to meet demand and prices will stay reasonable.

    Accountability. The citizens of California and their socialist government in Sacramento will be protected from their folly for a long long time. California is blessed with good weather, good ports, and plenty of natural resources. The federal government continues to pour in aid money. Immigration pours in from Latin America and the Western Pacific. More socialists arrive from the heartland seeking the promised land Utopia. If you ever see the population growth of California reverse, you will know the fall is coming.

    Living Within Means. It's a harsh thing to say, but most people who end up in the situation you describe are living beyond their means. If the income you have allows you to pay your bills and apply little or nothing to the future, you are living beyond your means. In general, people should live in smaller houses, drives smaller cars, and eat simpler. Instead, a combination of easy credit and inability to delay gratification allows people to get themselves in bad situations.

    It's not the loss of job that causes the problem. The job loss is only the pin that releases the grenade. For 200 years, Americans have survived on much less than we have now. There's no good reason why we can't too.

    Talk. Talking about the problem at least makes others aware of the situtation. And it can help to clarify the issues. The next step is form a committee!

    Housing. The root cause of the housing bubble is an environment that encourages easy credit and speculation with no consequences for the lender or borrower. If a borrower gets in over his head, he can declare bankruptcy. Goodbye debt. Does this hurt the lender? Not unless a lot of people do it at the same time. Normally, the rate of bankruptcy is low enough that the lender can absorb the costs. Lenders know what this rate is.

    They manage their portfolios with low, medium, and high risk investments. What is a mortgage loan? It's an investment by an institution. High risk investments produce high returns. If a risk goes bad, rates are raised on the low and medium investments. The bank never really takes a loss. It passes on the failures as the cost of doing business. It passes on the cost of doing business to the other loan takers. Banks, credit card companies and other lenders all play this game. That's why credit is so easy today.

    The only peole who suffer are honest people who pay thier bills on time. They pay for everyone else's ride.



    [ Parent ]

    Very, very wrong on one point (none / 1) (#209)
    by ShadowNode on Mon May 31, 2004 at 10:33:54 PM EST

    If doing business has an added expense it is ALWAYS passed on to the consumer. This simply isn't the way capitalism works, unless the business in question is a monopoly. If there is healthy competition, the business will be forced to eat the extra expense so long as it can still break even.

    [ Parent ]
    Regarding the Urban/Suburban Midwest (none / 0) (#117)
    by NeantHumain on Sun May 30, 2004 at 07:28:23 PM EST

    I live in a fairly affluent suburb of St. Louis, Missouri, although by no means the truly rich suburbs of Ladue, Clayton, Frontenac, and so on. In St. Louis the economy isn't booming, but it hasn't reached decline yet either.

    The region continues to see new house development (but with minimal population growth) and slow economic growth as well. Unfortunately, it seems St. Louis experiences the ups of the economy later and to a lesser extent than the coasts; and, when the inevitable downturns come, the big corporations make their cuts here and not in the places where the risky investment occurred in the first place. I suppose, with the distance between the higher ups in New York and the average employees in some medium-sized Midwestern city, it's easy enough for them to cut costs here, so far away from their lives and the lives of the people they care about.

    But then again, what do I know. I'm only 19 years old, and I've only now just gotten a job for the first time in a couple of years.


    I hate my sig.


    [ Parent ]
    You need better perspective and context (2.25 / 4) (#130)
    by pyramid termite on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:24:46 PM EST

    1. The Midwest has always been somewhat culturally and economically seperate and second priority for the nation as a whole. Look at the relations between farmers and the train corporations in the 19th century for evidence of this.

    2. There's been quite a bit of new economic investment in the Midwest, not only from the coasts, but from foreign countries like Japan and Germany. And don't forget that there's a lot of native investment capital, too. The economic freefall of the 70s was quite real, I lived through it in the Midwest, but there has been some significant recovery since then in most areas. Certainly, we're having our problems, but they're remarkably similar in degree and kind to what other areas of the country are now facing.

    3. I'd much rather live in a poor neighborhood in a small to medium Midwestern city than be poor in a large city on the coasts - and I've lived as a poor Midwesterner and been to other places - this is experience talking. Life in a trailer park isn't anywhere as bad as life in a ghetto.

    4. Wages and taxes are less for corporations in the Midwest, and that creates some exploitative situations - the whole abatement game is hurtful to local governments. But let's not forget two things - that this game is played everywhere in the U.S., not just the Midwest, and that any tax on a corporation is a hidden tax on the products its customers are buying. Rents, driving distances and other expenses can be much less in the Midwest - and it's a lot easier to move from Sucktown, IN to Prettygoodtown, OH than it is moving from one poor neighborhood to the next on the East or West Coasts. A poor person can be a lot closer to good opportunities in the Midwest.

    5. Class differences do tend to be a lot more noticable here, which can make the 3rd World aspects more obvious - but they're everywhere, not just the Midwest. The major discrepency is that tax dollars tend to flow from our area of the country to others.

    6. Just a comment on the economic plantation mentality that corporations like WalMart indulge in around here - it's certainly not good, but it's not any different than the way corporations behave elsewhere and I'm not going to cry much for Mom and Pop Storefront America being replaced by them. The fact is, they didn't pay or treat their people any damned better than the corporations do.

    The problem of neo-Liberals writing off our section of the country is very real - and is costing them political control of the country. If they could find out what the real problems are and deal with them forthrightly, a real progressive movement could happen. Instead, they ignore the working people of the Midwest and throw crumbs to various minority groups. This leaves the minority groups dissatisfied and somewhat listless in their support and causes many working people to vote for conservatives, who are lying through their teeth, but sound sympathetic.

    But the Midwest as a 3rd World Country? No, it doesn't seem that way to me. And if there's going to be a unifying, progressive movement in this country, it's probably going to have to come from our area.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    pt, this is the smartest thing I've ever heard you (none / 1) (#181)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:12:14 PM EST

    say:

    The problem of neo-Liberals writing off our section of the country is very real - and is costing them political control of the country. If they could find out what the real problems are and deal with them forthrightly, a real progressive movement could happen. Instead, they ignore the working people of the Midwest and throw crumbs to various minority groups.

    I take back all the mean things I've ever said about you. Did you read the recent Harper's article on Kansas? I was good, in a way, but in another way, it totally missed the point.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    I think (none / 0) (#270)
    by sophacles on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 06:32:31 PM EST

    You, Peahippo, and Adimovk5 should co-author an article about this. fascinating thread.

    [ Parent ]
    And you call that language diversity? (3.00 / 5) (#100)
    by ljj on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:10:21 PM EST

    In my corner of the global village, we have 11 official languages. South Africans have become very tolerant of each other.

    --
    ljj

    communication (none / 2) (#103)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:43:57 PM EST

    With that many official languages, how do you communicate with people who speak the other official languages? Does the language barrier cause any problems in daily life? Does it affect where you go and what you do?

    [ Parent ]
    here's how it works (none / 2) (#104)
    by ljj on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:57:09 PM EST

    Most South Africans can speak at least two of four languages. English ranks quite high on that list - as with everywhere else in the world, American culture pervades so English is the lingua franca.

    --
    ljj
    [ Parent ]

    local lingua franca (none / 0) (#206)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 09:57:20 PM EST

    I'm surprised that people don't choose an indigenous language.

    [ Parent ]
    they are also irrevelent (none / 0) (#352)
    by Phil San on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:19:09 AM EST

    In my corner of the global village, we have 11 official languages.

    Wow aren't you special. A while back I looked into ancient native languages of North America for a lark. Dosn't mean they are anything special.

    South Africans have become very tolerant of each other.

    Well maybe now on the surface. Less than 50 years ago that wasn't the case.

    Of course if you think I believe that the rest of the world is all happiness and roses you are sadly mistaken

    [ Parent ]

    If the world were better governed than it is. . . (2.37 / 8) (#102)
    by IHCOYC on Sun May 30, 2004 at 12:37:51 PM EST

    . . . the first goal of primary education would be to teach the chief subjects: Latin reading and composition, and Euclidean geometry. History shows that if we teach these subjects well enough, the several vernaculars will take care of themselves.


    --
    Iac et Iill, quærentes fontem, ascendebat paruum montem.
    Ille, cadens, fregit frontem, trahens secum hanc insontem.

    I'm with Julian the Apostate on this one (none / 2) (#179)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:09:20 PM EST

    Why should we learn Latin, considering that it's a language with only one worthwhile poem, and even that is derivative of the Greek classics?

    Everyone should learn the language of Pindar, of Archilochus, of Homer!
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Why Greek... (none / 0) (#249)
    by gzt on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 08:08:52 PM EST

    ...when Sanskrit has 10 times as much extant literature as Latin and Greek combined? Nah, Greek still wins, though it really is a fairly simple language.

    [ Parent ]
    Sanskrit literature (none / 0) (#265)
    by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 11:03:21 AM EST

    Why learn Sanskrit when we have 5,000 years of written Chinese?

    Greek wins because of the quality and significance of its literature rather than simply on size. Consider that the population of modern Greece is two orders of magnitude smaller than than of modern India, and suddenly having 10 times the extant literature is neither surprising nor especially impressive. And while Greek is much simpler than Sanskrit, it's not necessarily any simpler than any of the prakrits are. On the contrary, a low-caste Indian friend of mine argued once in my hearing that the complexity of Sanskrit script served, intentionally or un-, as a means of oppression throughout Indian history, because it reserved writing for the highest castes.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Quality and significance? (none / 0) (#268)
    by gzt on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 03:38:16 PM EST

    Significance to whom? And Sanskrit literature is at least equal in quality.

    Anyways, the number of speakers of educated literary Sanskrit in the classical period is not that many orders of magnitude greater than speakers of educated literary Greek in their classical period.

    Script is easy, completely phonetic, the difficulties are in the grammar, and one could say the same [about oppressing lower classes] about any classical culture. Nobody, not even the Greeks, made universal literacy a goal.

    [ Parent ]

    significance of Sanskrit? (none / 0) (#274)
    by adimovk5 on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 08:17:06 PM EST

    Please don't take offense to this question. Other than being a work of art, what is the contribution of Sanskrit to humanity?

    Greek gave Western civilization reasoning, rhetoric, early science, etc. It is literally the foundation of Western thought. Did Sanskrit do something similar?

    [ Parent ]

    uh (none / 0) (#276)
    by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 08:59:12 PM EST

    Greek gave Western civilization reasoning, rhetoric, early science, etc. It is literally the foundation of Western thought. Did Sanskrit do something similar?

    Yes, substitute 'Indian' for 'Western' and 'Sanskrit' for 'Greek' and you're pretty much done. You realize there's twice as many Indians as Europeans and USians put together, right?
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Not quite (none / 0) (#300)
    by NoBeardPete on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:16:57 PM EST

    The US has about 290 million people, while just the EU (which isn't the whole of Europe) has 450 million. The US and EU together, then, have 740 million people between them. India currently has just over a billion, or about 40% more. This is a long shot from twice as many people.


    Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
    [ Parent ]

    450 million in the EU? (none / 0) (#303)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 03:01:16 PM EST

    I guess you're right. I wasn't accounting for the expansion in May, which brought in almost 80 million, so I was thinking 370 million, + 290 million = 650 million as against 1,027 million for India. I'd say that that counts as reasonable hyperbole. The point is, there's a hell of a lot of Indians.

    Since we're on the subject, the total population of Europe is ca. 450 million + 28 (Romania) + 10 (Bulgaria) + 10 (former Yugoslavia excluding Slovenia) + around 90 (Russia west of the Urals.) That adds up to less than 600 million, maybe 630 if you include ethnic Russians east of the Urals, maybe 660 if you include Turks west of the straits (which is really pushin it.) Contrast this mass of humanity with the billion - and - climbing of India and this help to bring home the cultural impact on humanity of Sanskrit.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    Consider (none / 0) (#319)
    by NoBeardPete on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 09:21:19 PM EST

    If we're trying to determine how many people can be considered to be part of the "Western" culture that has been so profoundly shaped by Greek thought and writing, we ought to also include Canada (32 million), Australia (almost 20 million), and New Zealand (about another 4). There's a good argument for including Latin America (515 million or so), as well as South Africa (about another 43 million), plus the rest of Russia (about 54 million more than you've counted already), and maybe even parts of Francophone Africa, the Middle East, and the former British Commonwealth countries. At a conservative estimate of Europe + the English Speaking world, we're looking at 600 million Europeans + 346 million English speaking former British colonies. That's just shy of a billion already. If we're being a bit more liberal, we'll be pushing 2 billion.

    I'm not trying to knock Sanscrit or India by any means. But "Western" culture has been exploding like gangbusters all over the place for hundreds of years. As Greek thought lies at the core of much of Western culture, it's really been spread pretty far and wide, and I'd say it's at least as influential as Sanscrit in the world today. Probably, Greek culture has been dramatically more influential than Sanskrit.


    Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
    [ Parent ]

    Buddhism. (none / 1) (#328)
    by gzt on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 02:22:29 PM EST

    There, sir, we account for an influence in half the world.

    [ Parent ]
    Sanskrit and India (none / 0) (#311)
    by adimovk5 on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:05:43 PM EST

    So Sanskrit forms the base of the Indian way of looking at the world?

    Thank you. That's the answer I was looking for. I hear a lot about the greatness of Sanskrit but nothing specific. I am a product of the West and I know that. Sanskrit and its teachings are completely unknown to me. Can you point me to internet places that start easy on beginners?

    [ Parent ]

    ask gzt (none / 0) (#327)
    by Battle Troll on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 11:12:51 AM EST

    Basically, Sanskrit is considered the 'ideal' written language, and the vast majority of Indian literature, on all subjects, is written in it rather than in any of the spoken dialects.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    I don't know about the internet... (none / 0) (#329)
    by gzt on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 02:25:59 PM EST

    I've tried to find good web pages before on the subject and, generally, I've been disappointed.

    But here's the thing: Sanskrit is the language of [Indian] Buddhism and Hinduism. Inasmuch as these philosophies have influenced the world, Sanskrit is important. Two key texts to look at would be the Dhammapada and the Bhagavad Gita [though the former is actually in Pali]. Introductions to those would probably serve well enough as an introduction to Indian philosophy and, thus, the philosophical tradition in the Sanskrit language.

    [ Parent ]

    To expand on Battle Troll's excellent reply..... (none / 0) (#289)
    by silk on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:48:29 AM EST

    It seems to me that you are fallaciously equating Western civilization with humanity.  In your first paragraph, you ask,
    "what is the contribution of Sanskrit to humanity?" while at the start of your second paragraph you state that
    "Greek gave Western civilization reasoning, rhetoric, .....".  I believe that it is important to remember that Western civilization is but one of many civilizations that have come up with reasoning, rhetoric, and science.  Unfortunately, in my opinion, we are presented with a view of history that makes it seem as if humanity has developed in a progression, starting out primitive and developing to better, along a certain path and through the medium of Western culture.  From conversations with friends and acquaintances from other areas, it seems as though the same thing happens in at least China and Japan, except with the current country taking the role of the great mover of history.  Perhaps this sort of grand narrative construction is a part of human psychology.  I don't really know.

    [ Parent ]
    right (none / 0) (#299)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:15:09 PM EST

    It's certainly true that Westernism is the dominant paradigm for modernity; eg, contemporary Japanese science derives from and is connected with Western science, not from early Japanese science. But if you take this attitude too far, you wind up saying with Hegel that Africa has no history.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    How could you think that? (none / 0) (#315)
    by adimovk5 on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:15:54 PM EST

    I purposely chose my wording so that people would not think that.

    I know that Greek is the core of Western thought. I do not know what influences Sanskrit had. Did Sanskrit influence one culture or many? Has its influence ended or does it continue today?

    Greek influences every Western land. Instead of being called the Western it should probably be called Greco or Hellenic civilization. Not only is Greek passed on through thousands of influences but each new generation goes back to the well once again. Each new generation draws new water from the Greek fountain.

    I wanted to know: does Sanskrit contribute to humanity in the same way that Greek does? And if it does, through which cultures?

    That Greek contributes in the way it does doesn't preclude other cultures doing the same.

    [ Parent ]

    hmm (none / 0) (#275)
    by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 08:56:05 PM EST

    Significance to whom?

    Sts Justin Martyr, Basil, Augustine, et al.

    Anyways, the number of speakers of educated literary Sanskrit in the classical period is not that many orders of magnitude greater than speakers of educated literary Greek in their classical period.

    While this may be true, there are two important nuances that must be considered:

  • The literature of Greek is necessarily less learned than that of Sanskrit, because, anomalously for antiquity, literacy was widespread in Greek society. The likes of Sappho or Archilochus would probably never have learned to write in ancient India, because they didn't come from the upper reaches of the aristocracy. Social class was much more fluid in Greece, much less virtually any ancient society, than in India. So the educational bar is basically set much higher in India.
  • The ethnic bounds of Greece were even smaller in the classical period than they are today. It wasn't until the Byzantine Empire that the assorted Thracians, Armenians, Macedonians and Albanians that inhabited much of what is now Greece became thoroughly Hellenized. Classical Greece was a collection of city-states which controlled their immediate countryside and, in some cases, pretended to the stature of controlling provinces. But a cursory glance through the middle part of Thucydides will remind you that there were tons of barbarians inhabiting Ionia and Attica. Consequently, the ratio of self-described Greeks to Indians in 500 BC would have been even lower than it is today.

    [O]ne could say the same (about oppressing lower classes) about any classical culture.

    I can't speak to his point, but my Indian friend alleged that Sanskrit's asserted "perfection" was a way of denigrating the prakrits and ensuring that they would remain secondary to classical Sanskrit itself, which was the prerogatory language of the upper castes. Without pretending to know the intentions of long-dead Indian priests, I think it's fair to say that no Sanskrit-prakrit dichotomy existed in classical Greek (just the opposite; some important literature is in Doric,) and that social class in Greece, if rigid, was nonetheless egalitarian and fluid in comparison to the prevailing situation in India.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

  • I screwed up! (none / 0) (#278)
    by Battle Troll on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 09:07:04 PM EST

    Aeolic, not Doric. I am a young fool.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Mostly agreed, but a couple points. (none / 0) (#292)
    by gzt on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 11:10:10 AM EST

    Well, if you'd said, "...the language of Chrysostom, Basil the Great, etc" in the first place, there would have been no basis for dispute. But Valmiki is at least comparable to Homer and Kalidasa far outstrips Pindar.

    As for Sanskrit vs. Prakrit: You're pretty much correct, though one should note that important literature was written in the various prakrits [particularly Pali].

    [ Parent ]

    yeah, but (none / 0) (#297)
    by Battle Troll on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 01:38:00 PM EST

    Well, if you'd said, "...the language of Chrysostom, Basil the Great, etc" in the first place, there would have been no basis for dispute.

    If you're going to read Chrysostom at all, you need to know Pindar, not Kalidasa (although thank you for that name. I am a young fool!)
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]

    +1FP (2.60 / 5) (#106)
    by SanSeveroPrince on Sun May 30, 2004 at 01:10:27 PM EST

    And don't you guys DARE start the flame wars before I'm back with my marshmallows.

    For what it's worth, I think it's ludicrous that a nation founded by immigrants would have already forgotten what it's like to be forced to emigrate.

    Then again, considering what they did to the natives, it's not wonder they are reacting negatively. They DO NOT want history to repeat itself.

    ----

    Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


    you miss the point (none / 1) (#121)
    by llimllib on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:23:56 PM EST

    Every entrenched set of immigrants hate the new immigrants. The English hated the Germans, the Germans hated the Italians, the Italians hated the Irish, etc. The fact that people hate hispanics is not shocking.

    Peace.
    [ Parent ]
    The analogy works except for one thing... (none / 3) (#149)
    by ttfkam on Mon May 31, 2004 at 12:23:07 AM EST

    Chicanos were (a) in the pacific southwest before it become US territories/states and (b) are quickly becoming the majority in a few states.

    When people talk about assimilation, they should also look at US history in the region from 1845 to 1970.  Take a look at the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo and pay attention to how attempts at assimilation were treated by the Texas Rangers.  Look up the name Juaquin Murrieta.  Look up the name Juan Cortina.  How about the Land Act of 1851?  Marvel at the fact that Mexican-Americans had to sue the US federal government to keep their legally obtained land and do so sometimes hundreds of miles away from their tracts while mainly Anglo squatters would set up shop and lay claim.  Read about the "Zoot Suit Riots."

    When looked at in this context, the problem is that the rest of the US isn't assimilating well.

    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 ]

    let me clarify (none / 1) (#155)
    by llimllib on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:15:07 AM EST

    My point was in response to SSP's claim that: "it's ludicrous that a nation founded by immigrants would have already forgotten what it's like to be forced to emigrate." What I was trying to get across is this: the first thing any minority group that has become powerful does is hate the new minority groups. Thus, what he said is ludicrous is not at all.

    If you want to claim that hispanics are not immigrants, that's fine, and you don't agree with me or with the parent poster. My only point was that the first thing immigrants (and minority groups, in general) do once they're settled is to hate on other immigrants.

    Peace.
    [ Parent ]

    I agree with you, (none / 1) (#171)
    by SanSeveroPrince on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:22:48 PM EST

    but since when is reality not ludicrous?

    The fact that everybody else is doing it does not make anything less stupid, or pointless.

    I agree with your statement, but in no way will I accept it as sensible behaviour just because lots and lots of people kept fucking it up throughout history.

    ----

    Life is a tragedy to those who feel, and a comedy to those who think


    [ Parent ]
    switched sides (none / 3) (#143)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:49:34 PM EST

    I think it's ludicrous that a nation founded by immigrants would have already forgotten what it's like to be forced to emigrate

    They haven't forgotten. They've switched sides. Now that the immigrants of the past have become citizens, they are afraid that there isn't enough America to share. They want to keep the good things for themselves and their descendants.

    It's nothing new. Each generation of immigrants has settled in and tried to lock out the next since the colonial days.

    They don't understand that America is a land of growth. There is more wealth here than 50 years ago. There will be more wealth here 50 years from now.

    [ Parent ]

    Let's be honest, it's mostly an Anti-Catholic bias (1.88 / 9) (#113)
    by Adam Rightmann on Sun May 30, 2004 at 02:48:57 PM EST

    the entrenched White Anglo Saxon Protestant elite are terrified that their passionless heretical sect of Christianity will no longer be the dominant branch of Christianity. Episcopalians, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, it's really not too hard, learn the names of a few Saints and substitute Ave Maria for Amazing Grace.

    I for one welcome our brown skinned Brothers in the Faith.

    fear of change (none / 1) (#142)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:36:09 PM EST

    It's not anti-Catholic bias that drives people. It's fear of change. People fight for the status quo. It's natural. Anytime something new disturbs the old, people will fight.



    [ Parent ]

    Well .. (none / 1) (#174)
    by kurioszyn on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:46:12 PM EST

    It depends if the change is for good or not.

    [ Parent ]
    Anti-Catholicism is not "bias" (none / 3) (#223)
    by IHCOYC on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 10:08:39 AM EST

    So long as the Roman Church remains an authoritarian foreign government under the rule of the last fancy-dress dictator in Europe, and so long as that foreign power insists on attempting to influence U.S. domestic politics in ways that are hostile to our personal liberties, it will continue to be prudent to hold that church and its members with a certain amount of trepidation, at least where public affairs are concerned.

    I know, the Southern Baptists are just as bad in many areas, but at least the Southern Baptist Church is governed by a conference to which the member churches send delegates, and its members remain free to disaffiliate from the larger body. Moreover, Southern Baptists do not teach that you lose salvation if you quit their church and join the Methodists. They are not governed by an un-American absolute monarchy; they do not have a history of several centuries of opposition to freedom of speech and religion, and support for royalism and Fascism.
    --
    Ecce torpet probitas, virtus sepelitur;
    Fit iam parca largitas, parcitas largitur;
    Verum dicit falsitas; veritas mentitur.

    [ Parent ]

    Dude, that is sooooo 19th century (none / 0) (#234)
    by nlscb on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 01:42:05 PM EST

    move out of Boston and get with the times. Gangs of New York != Boyz 'n da Hood.

    Comment Search has returned - Like a beaten wife, I am pathetically grateful. - mr strange
    [ Parent ]

    uhhh...not quite (none / 0) (#371)
    by dhuff on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 01:59:00 PM EST

    Just to clear up a misconception, members of the Episcopal Church USA consider themselves to be catholic - just not Roman Catholic. This is mentioned in our liturgy every Sunday. You can Peek Through the Window at our similarities and differences if you're really curious...

    [ Parent ]
    Spanish Not Right Language for Everyone (3.00 / 6) (#118)
    by NeantHumain on Sun May 30, 2004 at 07:36:04 PM EST

    Requiring all American students to learn Spanish is absurd. For some people, French, German, Italian, Japanese, or any of numerous other languages might be more useful or interesting. Not all of us intend to move to California, Texas, Arizona, or Florida. If I have to do any business at all with someone who speaks a foreign language, some language other than Spanish would be more likely.

    Especially when you live in a largely monolingual community (like St. Louis, Missouri, where the Bosnian population is more visible than the Hispanic population), there are other reasons to learn a foreign language: access to a foreign culture and its literature, newspapers, movies, television, and people. I have some knowledge of French, and I do intend to visit France someday.


    I hate my sig.


    Just as a point ... (none / 0) (#131)
    by pyramid termite on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:40:58 PM EST

    ... the foreign language I hear most when I'm out and about is Spanish. I live in Kalamazoo, MI.

    Hispanics are in lots of places, these days.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    What are you saying? (1.00 / 5) (#137)
    by debacle on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:13:36 PM EST

    The only real place that spanish is not majorly prevalent is the northeast, where french would be the major language.

    Frankly, learning spanish is bending our backs over for those fucking wetbacks. I say we outlaw spanish.

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    damn straight (none / 1) (#357)
    by Phil San on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 11:16:44 AM EST

    The only real place that spanish is not majorly prevalent is the northeast, where french would be the major language.

    But it really isn't. Most people get a clue and learn English.

    Frankly, learning spanish is bending our backs over for those fucking wetbacks. I say we outlaw spanish.

    Damn straight

    [ Parent ]
    my belief (none / 1) (#354)
    by Phil San on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:24:26 AM EST

    ... the foreign language I hear most when I'm out and about is Spanish. I live in Kalamazoo, MI.

    That's because the worthless people are moving into a place where most other people learned to speak the language of the future and of successful people: English.

    Hispanics are in lots of places, these days.

    Mostly because their own worthless country tried to tell their European masters to shove it and realized they suck at running a company.

    [ Parent ]
    French (2.60 / 5) (#139)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:28:11 PM EST

    Go visit Belgium or Switzerland instead. When I was in France, I attempted to use French almost everywhere I went. Each time, I was treated like dirt for my abuse of the French language. First they would correct me and then they would look at me like they wished I would go back to my own country. In Belgium and Switzerland the attitude was very positive. People appreciated that I was trying to speak the local language. They were very friendly and helpful.



    [ Parent ]

    When / where was this? (none / 3) (#144)
    by jongleur on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:55:57 PM EST

    when I was there (Paris, but maybe they're used to tourists) I'd do my French and they'd start speaking English, putting us both out of our misery. I don't know how they knew :).

    But I was expecting to get spat on and stuff according to the stories I've heard.  Only one person was obnoxious the whole time, most people were very helpful.  I did subconsciously expect that, since all French people I've met in the States speak English, and that Europeans in general seem so cosmopolitan, that the French would all be able to speak English in a pinch, which wasn't the case.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]

    Paris was the worst place (none / 3) (#148)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 12:02:21 AM EST

    I lived in Europe from 1992 to 1997. I received the worst treatment in Paris. I was never spat on or cursed at or anything like that. I had several rude things said to me before they knew I could understand. The only time I received any kind of decent treatment was in Le Bourget for the Air Show. Maybe they put on a good face for all the foreigners. I have no complaints at all for that trip.

    I was very disappointed with the way I was treated. I had always admired the French during my school years. I was excited to be able to use my French will real French people.

    As I said before, the Belgians were much more receptive. They just seemed friendly in every way.

    I still like the Eiffel Tower. Very impressive. The town was dirty. For some reason I always pictured it as a clean city. It was pretty at night. The countryside was very pretty too.

    [ Parent ]

    counterpoint (2.75 / 4) (#178)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:00:24 PM EST

    A friend of mine, a well-educated woman from Québec with a very neutral accent (none of that backwoods stuff,) told me that, when she went to France, the French would humiliate her publically by correcting her pronunciation. She hates the French now.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    not surprising (none / 0) (#353)
    by Phil San on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:21:42 AM EST

    A friend of mine, a well-educated woman from Québec with a very neutral accent (none of that backwoods stuff,) told me that, when she went to France, the French would humiliate her publically by correcting her pronunciation. She hates the French now.

    Frankly I like seeing the suposedly tolerant Europeans being portrayed as evil with all their warts and everything.

    [ Parent ]
    France (none / 0) (#242)
    by {ice}blueplazma on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 07:07:12 PM EST

    Having just returned from two weeks in France, I'd beg to differ. The French were pretty much all nice to me while I was there, and the hotel staff went as far as to compliement it. Of course, I've also had 6 years of French courses in high school... so yah. Maybe it's just level of skill?

    "Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
    --Jimmy Fallon
    [ Parent ]
    paltry skill (none / 0) (#251)
    by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 08:21:44 PM EST

    Part of it was likely due to my skill (or lack thereof). I've had only three years. At the time, my lessons were five years in the past. Still, I'm sure my pronunciation was good. Reasonably sure. I'm also sure that my grammer was terrible.

    Maybe the Belgians thought my corruption of French was amusing.....

    I thought I was doing a good thing by trying to communicate with the French in their own language. I never had such problems as I did there.

    [ Parent ]

    True... (none / 0) (#271)
    by {ice}blueplazma on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 06:42:55 PM EST

    I'll grant you, the French are really anal about their language. They corrected me occasionally, but not too often. I'm sure the experience difference is the cause. But you're kinda right, the French are anal about their language. I dunno, they do like it if you try, but they hate when you fuck up and they yell at you. It happened the first time I went. A waiter scoffed at me and just spoke in English. That was during my second year of French.

    "Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
    --Jimmy Fallon
    [ Parent ]
    preparing for the future (none / 2) (#141)
    by adimovk5 on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:33:42 PM EST

    Requiring all American students to learn Spanish is absurd.

    You don't see a need for Spanish now. I'm concerned about the US in the next 50 years. Spanish speaking people will form 25% of the population. Also the Latin American economies will be heating up. Tourism between North and South will be larger than it is now. So will trade.

    The time to build levees is when the weatherman predicts a rainy season, not when the water is rising.

    [ Parent ]

    the reality (none / 1) (#355)
    by Phil San on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:31:29 AM EST

    Requiring all American students to learn Spanish is absurd.

    I agree

    You don't see a need for Spanish now. I'm concerned about the US in the next 50 years. Spanish speaking people will form 25% of the population.

    Hmmm that seems that it would still be a minority as well.

    Also I seem to remember the reality that most countries in the world usually take a dim view of long term residents to their countries not learning the standard language.

    Basicaly it means that people should be obliged to learn the language.

    Also the Latin American economies will be heating up. Tourism between North and South will be larger than it is now. So will trade.

    Yeah a group of people who more or less are living in the poorest of conditions, with the worlds largest slums, the worst political unrest, environmental degredation, and the least to see in terms of culture or art.

    The time to build levees is when the weatherman predicts a rainy season, not when the water is rising.

    Franly I will do absolutely nothing. If I lived in say Germany, China, or Russia I would die on the street before anyone bothered to waste time on me as a long term language leach.

    [ Parent ]
    English is not that hard to learn (none / 0) (#280)
    by Orion Blastar on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 11:13:49 PM EST

    when I first crashed my Corsair on this mudball, I spoke Vilani and Galanglic. Apparently English is an ancestor to Galanglic, so I picked it up quickly. Being from 4096AD as a Space Pirate, I found that language skills come in handy.

    Anyway I still use Galanglic 41st century grammar and spellings, which are different from 20th/21st century English, so excuse my mistakes as I have ESL issues.

    I am often called an idiot, if I can learn English, anyone can. I studied under the "Jackie Chan school of how to speak English really good" and I graduated with honors.

    Those who refuse to take ESL courses, or even bother to learn English are lazy and not willing to learn new things.
    *** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
    [ Parent ]

    Simpler Solution (none / 0) (#370)
    by czolgosz on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 11:13:36 AM EST

    We should make fluency in two languages a condition of high-school graduation. Require that one of those two languages be English, since it's the language of international commerce, and is widely understood in most parts of the world. Offer as wide a choice of other languages as possible. Obviously, Spanish and English would be a particularly useful combination.

    The end result of this will be a population of Americans who are not quite so ignorant of other cultures, since language is a window into a culture, and who are also able to function in the global marketplace.

    The worst possible outcome is that people are not only monoglot, but not even fluent or literate in their native language, and oblivious to the outside world.


    Why should I let the toad work squat on my life? --Larkin
    [ Parent ]
    Spanish: The Language of Cowardice (1.07 / 26) (#120)
    by rmg on Sun May 30, 2004 at 08:12:33 PM EST

    A year ago, when I thought of Spain, I thought of the heroic crusaders of yore, a land of piety and bravery defending Europe from the Moorish hoards, the conquistador paving the way for democracy and prosperity in the New World, and our strongest ally in the War on Terror. While other European nations grew fat from the blood of Iraqi children, sucking the Food for Oil program dry, Spain looked to its history of valiantly striking down evil in all its forms and joined the coalition against Saddam Hussein.

    Obviously I was wrong about Spain.

    On March 12, Spaniards reminded the world that they are indeed Europeans. Just two hundred casualties and all of their gallantry disappears. Spain has shown Al Qaeda and all the enemies of freedom how soft Europeans really are. By withdrawing from Iraq, they've jeopardized the future of the Iraqi people and the safety of the world.

    Just three months ago, things were moving along swimmingly. A democratic Iraq was inevitable, but Spain's sudden withdraw emboldened the terrorists and enflamed the resistance in Iraq. Now our men and women in uniform are being killed everyday and failure looks inevitable.

    Now when I hear Spanish, I don't hear the language of Zorro and Cortez, I hear the language of Puerto Rican queens and migrant workers -- the language of a fallen people. Of course, it's still better than French.

    Notice of policy change (none / 2) (#127)
    by jongleur on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:01:53 PM EST

    once I respected a well-crafted troll, but then again maybe yours isn't one.

    It strikes me as parasitic somehow.

    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]

    Interesting view (none / 1) (#128)
    by egeland on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:11:09 PM EST

    Disclaimer: My comments may appear to be anti-American. I'm not, I'm just anti-Bush.

    ...I thought of the heroic crusaders of yore, a land of piety...

    Or, more correctly, bringers of plagues and slavery, thieves, murderers and rapists of the natives of the Americas. Nice.
    Not to mention the "piety" of the Spanish Inquisition...

    By withdrawing from Iraq, they've jeopardized the future of the Iraqi people and the safety of the world.

    Or, by withdrawing from Iraq, they acknowledge that they have no right to invade on false pretenses (WMDs, anyone?) and should leave, apologise, and provide restitution to the best of their ability.
    Of course, Bush's military aren't there to look for WMDs, but rather to secure access to Iraqi oil supplies, so I doubt they will leave in a hurry. Using the war on terror as an excuse to invade to steal the resources of another sovereign country is just plain wrong. If you're going to steal their oil, at least be honest about it, tell the People that oil production is peaking and put it to a referendum: Invade or Don't Invade.
    Of course, the invasion will still be illegal by UN and international law, but when you're Bush, you don't care about the law. (AWOL, anyone?)
    Bush will never relinquish control completely.
    I suspect permanent military bases will be established as part of a "peace keeping" deal made with the (American appointed) new government of Iraq, probably close to the oil fields, ports and refineries.

    Just three months ago, things were moving along swimmingly.

    Yep, swimming in the blood of innocent civillians, as well as allied soldiers and the occasional rebel (rebelling against the illegal occupation of their country).

    Now our men and women in uniform are being killed everyday and failure looks inevitable.

    Invade a country on false pretenses, steal their resources, kill their children... expect no resistance? WTF? Who thought of this plan?
    Support your troops, by all means. They are far braver than you and I and deserve gratitude and respect. Do NOT support the politics that sent them to invade. I hope Kerry wins and has enough balls to reverse Bush's FUBARs.

    ...the language of a fallen people. Of course, it's still better than French.

    The language of a people having grown some backbone, stood up and said "It's not right - we're not taking further part in it".
    And if it wasn't for the French, there would be no United States of America, there would only be the American colonies, belonging to the British Crown.
    The French had enough guts to tell Bush where to stick it, and lookie, no WMDs, they were 100% right to do so!

    --
    Some interesting quotes
    [ Parent ]

    It's good to see we have some common ground. (none / 1) (#133)
    by rmg on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:52:20 PM EST

    Or, more correctly, [the Spanish were] bringers of plagues and slavery, thieves, murderers and rapists of the natives of the Americas. Nice.
    Not to mention the "piety" of the Spanish Inquisition...

    True. I see that now.

    ----

    i ♥ legitimate users.

    dave dean
    [ Parent ]

    I dare you to say that in Mexico (2.40 / 5) (#132)
    by pyramid termite on Sun May 30, 2004 at 09:44:01 PM EST

    Puta.

    On the Internet, anyone can accuse you of being a dog.
    [ Parent ]
    Chi-chi cabron, more likely. [n/t] (none / 0) (#314)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:11:34 PM EST


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    You know rmg (none / 1) (#135)
    by debacle on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:06:06 PM EST

    We have way too many pro-me anti-you trolls. Since turmeric left, you're the classiest troll around. Do you think you could try being pro-you and anti-me? I know it would be hard, but if it helps I think you can do it.

    I mean, with this pro-america shit you're no better than sllort and sellison.

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]

    I'm sorry, you lost me. (none / 2) (#136)
    by rmg on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:12:17 PM EST

    What's a troll?

    ----

    i ♥ legitimate users.

    dave dean
    [ Parent ]

    You didn't get the memo? (none / 3) (#138)
    by debacle on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:14:19 PM EST

    Look under your bridge.

    It tastes sweet.
    [ Parent ]
    +3, Funny (none / 1) (#160)
    by Vendor on Mon May 31, 2004 at 06:18:49 AM EST

    n/t

    [ Parent ]
    footnote: (none / 2) (#177)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:58:07 PM EST

    Obviously, we must kill, kill, kill the Spanish man.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    Has anyone done the... (1.00 / 4) (#134)
    by debacle on Sun May 30, 2004 at 10:03:37 PM EST

    Spanish Inquizition yet? If not, consider this post a funny rendition of the classy MP skit.

    If you don't know what the skit is all about, then I feel for you. You are either part of the generation that will die in a nuclear winter, or you are socially inept.

    And yeah, I'm too lazy to cut-and-paste it.

    I'd do it for Hulver.

    It tastes sweet.

    -1, Fallacy of Predication (1.50 / 8) (#145)
    by thelizman on Sun May 30, 2004 at 11:17:12 PM EST

    Many people in the United states view Spanish speaking people as a menace who must be controlled.
    Who?
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    I wondered why Huntington wasn't mentioned (none / 1) (#156)
    by Kuranes on Mon May 31, 2004 at 05:22:24 AM EST

    At least, he started this discussion in the U.S., didn't he?


    Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
    [ Parent ]
    the black Jesse Helms (none / 2) (#304)
    by yossarianc on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 04:31:40 PM EST

    Don't know about many, but here's one. If you look hard enough on the site, you can find the actual radio ad.

    http://vernonrobinson.com/cgi-data/news/files/111.shtml


    This paint-by-numbers life is f#cking with my head, once again.
    [ Parent ]
    There's one... (none / 0) (#331)
    by thelizman on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 09:47:22 PM EST

    ...still far from "many".
    --

    "Our language is sufficiently clumsy enough to allow us to believe foolish things." - George Orwell
    [ Parent ]
    ummm (1.42 / 7) (#157)
    by the77x42 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 05:38:48 AM EST

    since when is it wrong to hate people for stupid reasons?


    "We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
    "You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

    Since now. (none / 3) (#211)
    by greenreaper on Mon May 31, 2004 at 11:21:42 PM EST

    Idiot. I hate you. ;-)

    [ Parent ]
    on madatory language learning... (1.25 / 12) (#158)
    by the77x42 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 05:40:31 AM EST

    i live in canada. i HAD to learn french through school. i still hate the french. learning their gay language just gave me another reason to hate them.


    "We're not here to educate. We're here to point and laugh." - creature
    "You have some pretty stupid ideas." - indubitable ‮

    Only the Canadian French are gay (none / 1) (#167)
    by jongleur on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:13:02 PM EST

    French French are cool.
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    I regret this post (none / 0) (#288)
    by jongleur on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:40:21 AM EST

    insulting the Canadian French. /nt
    --
    "If you can't imagine a better way let silence bury you" - Midnight Oil
    [ Parent ]
    You forget Gay Paris as well [n/t] (none / 0) (#313)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:09:41 PM EST


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    doh! (none / 3) (#159)
    by dimaq on Mon May 31, 2004 at 05:51:48 AM EST

    quote
    We have Hawaian speakers in Hawaii
    unquote

    is this weird or what?

    Hawaiian (none / 2) (#164)
    by adimovk5 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 11:20:50 AM EST

    I should have been more clear. It was a reference to the fact that Hawaii has its own offical language. Hawaii is unique in the sense that Hawaiians are an ethnic group in a way that Nevadans and Kansans are not.



    [ Parent ]

    that makes it clear (none / 0) (#226)
    by dimaq on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 11:13:52 AM EST



    [ Parent ]
    Indeed!! (none / 3) (#189)
    by NeantHumain on Mon May 31, 2004 at 03:51:38 PM EST

    I thought all the Hawaiian speakers lived in Decatur, Illinois!


    I hate my sig.


    [ Parent ]
    Speaking of Immersion... (1.00 / 12) (#161)
    by NaCh0 on Mon May 31, 2004 at 06:42:29 AM EST

    Why doesn't Mexico have an Olympic team?

    Answer: Because anyone who can run, jump, or swim is already in the US.

    --
    K5: Your daily dose of socialism.

    but dude, (none / 1) (#165)
    by rmg on Mon May 31, 2004 at 12:45:52 PM EST

    like... mexico has an olympic team...

    ----

    i ♥ legitimate users.

    dave dean
    [ Parent ]

    Language Barrier (none / 3) (#169)
    by doormat on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:19:40 PM EST

    I live in Vegas, which is quickly becoming New Los Angeles (lots of hispanics, very high home prices, crappy traffic and lots of smog). There was a story last week on the police dept having to pay for basic spanish lessons for most of their beat cops because its getting really inefficient that you have to call up a spanish speaking cop a few times a day. So the real problem comes when the asian community (which is also a good size) complains that they cant communicate with officers and want the same thing. Likewise, if you print english and spanish language forms, why not other languages? It becomes a burden and costs money to accomidate other languages/dialects.

    |\
    |/oormat

    In Spain (none / 2) (#175)
    by DrAvenarius on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:46:40 PM EST

    In Spain all we must learn english if we want work and progress. Is´t not a cuestion about nations and languages, it´s only market

    English (none / 1) (#176)
    by Battle Troll on Mon May 31, 2004 at 01:48:33 PM EST

    In Eastern Europe, everyone used to speak german. These days, it's very much out of fashion; English is the language of business.
    --
    Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
    Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
    [ Parent ]
    I think my sig says it all ;-) (1.50 / 8) (#182)
    by Wateshay on Mon May 31, 2004 at 02:13:48 PM EST


    "If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


    zuh? (none / 1) (#230)
    by EMHMark3 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:45:43 PM EST

    Didn't he speak Aramaic?

    T H E   M A C H I N E   S T O P S
    [ Parent ]

    Aramaic (none / 0) (#241)
    by {ice}blueplazma on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 07:01:08 PM EST

    Jesus spoke Aramaic and a smattering of other languages, but mostly Aramaic as it was the common tongue of the time and place.

    "Denise, I've been begging you for the kind of love that Donny and Smitty have, but you won't let me do it, not even once!"
    --Jimmy Fallon
    [ Parent ]
    Duh! (none / 0) (#257)
    by Wateshay on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 09:49:50 PM EST

    Your word for the day: Satire

    "If English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for everyone else."


    [ Parent ]
    who said that quote? (none / 0) (#372)
    by mozmozmoz on Thu Jun 10, 2004 at 05:52:11 PM EST

    There's a song by a kiwi band (The Muttonbirds) with lyrics <quote>The queens english was good enough for jesus christ and it's good enough for me</quote>

    I would love to know which US politician actually said it, or whether it's

    There's lots of comedy on TV too. Does that make children funnier?
    [ Parent ]

    Tolerance (2.50 / 4) (#210)
    by benxor on Mon May 31, 2004 at 10:39:06 PM EST

    The majority of comments in this article seems to be about hating people of other cultures, economic realist points of view on accomodating other languages, and the usual crap with no knowledge of the subject matter whatsoever - typical American stuff.

    May I just remind everyone that it doesn't really matter what America intends to do about all it's immigrants and accomodating their langauge, because in two generations everyone will be speaking English anyway. The reason that a language is easy to pick up when young is not by coincidence, or an abundence of mental exhuberance that the old lack. Neither is it hard for older speakers of a language to change language because of 'cultural differences', as if concepts of a culture are so intimately connected with language that it's impossible to transfer concepts across (this is actually a famous theory which was overturned some while ago).

    It's language aquisition, my friends - once past the age of 13, your brain is done recording the sounds and syntactic forms of your primary langauge. Languages learnt up to this age can be spoken fluently, as a native speaker; languages learnt after can be well emulated, but will never be as fluent as a native speaker. Not only this, but people learning a second language after that crucial 0-13 period will even have trouble hearing the language: that is, picking out distinctions in sound that exist in that language, but not in their native language. Ever wonder why Chinese people say 'flied lice'? Because there's no distinction between 'l' and 'r' in Mandarin (and most Asian languages), even though this is a very marked distinction in English. They're not stupid or lazy or too old to bother to learn - it is literally cognitively impossible for them to pick up this new distinction with fluency. They won't even know they're saying it wrong - to them, it will appear a reasonable or even fluent recreation of the sound, but to us who are highly attuned to this distinction, it won't.

    Young people born in country A whose parents were from country B will speak country A's language because
    -they want to be like their peers, who speak it
    -they want to distance themselves from their parents, who don't
    -they are immersed in it already at school
    Language is a social phenomenon, and this is all about social acceptance - people who can't speak the main language of a country know acutely how important it is for their success to try and learn that language well. This fact has been around for centuries, and immigrants have adapted for centuries -- yet nobody seems to remember this.

    Everyone seems to forget that the US used to be about predominantly non-English speaking, and yet virtually everybody speaks it today. Even for those who speak a different language at home, it is the 'public language' elsewhere, it's already socialised as the 'official language' of the US. Many Americans have Italian, Polish, Russian, German, etc. roots as evidenced by their names and their family histories, yet they all speak fluent English today, generations later, and no-one bats an eyelid now if somebody in the government or business is called Sanchez (spanish), or Kissinger (german jewish), Rockerfella (roeckenfelder, dutch) etc.

    Their ancestors didn't learn english because it was the Official Langauge of the USA, they learnt it because it was the primary language of the country they were in, and they adapted.

    Making it the Official Language wouldn't have helped anyway, except to create cultural rifts and general unrest, as those who couldn't learn the language because of age became socially dispised and harassed, with government sanction as justification for this.

    'Absorbtion' is the only way that cultural acceptance will occur, and no other strategy will work or help.

    'Oh', you say, 'but what about the added cost of having to print public health warnings and important signs in multiple languages? Even if this is a transition period, it could be 30 or so years'. What about all the tax spent on completely useless bullshit, like the war, or Bush's re-election campaign? This is one of those situations where public money would be going to, you know, help the public: and even within the context of public health and wellbeing. Can't get much more worthy of tax dollars than that, I would think.

    --
    all generalisations are false - including this one

    Some agreement, some dis (none / 3) (#215)
    by epepke on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:04:59 AM EST

    Disclaimer: I'm a certified ESL teacher.

    t's language aquisition, my friends - once past the age of 13, your brain is done recording the sounds and syntactic forms of your primary langauge.

    I disagree with this, especially the syntactic forms.

    Languages learnt up to this age can be spoken fluently, as a native speaker; languages learnt after can be well emulated, but will never be as fluent as a native speaker.

    It depends on what you mean by "well emulated." It may be difficult to do as well as the best native speakers, but if you look at the actual performance of the average native speaker, there's a fair amount of searching for words and producing grammar that is hard even for peers to understand. It is not an insurmountable task for a motivated speaker to be able to handle an L2 better than this. For example, Roger Zelazny is better at English than the majority of people who put words to paper.

    Not only this, but people learning a second language after that crucial 0-13 period will even have trouble hearing the language: that is, picking out distinctions in sound that exist in that language, but not in their native language.

    Different languages have different phonemes. As per your example, in many Asian languages, "l" and "r" are allophones of the same phoneme. However, I do not think that phonemic recognition and production is cut off by age, either. I was 24 before I could distinguish betwen the German "n" and "nn" and "s" and "ss," but now I can do it pretty well.

    Other factors that make learning an L2 difficult are cadence and intonation. Spanish, for example, is syllabic and has three basic intonations, while English is phrasal and has four basic intonations. These are generally not adequately addressed in foreign language courses. It does not make the problems insurmountable. Special linguistics courses (I had one for Spanish in college) and a study of poetry can help enormously. The U.S. foreign service courses, some of which are available on CD, are also useful.

    I've seen plenty of the studies that claim that there is some age cutoff, and I do not believe that any of them are good enough to rule out the hypothesis that adults can become native speakers but due to a variety of social forces largely do not.

    The biggest factor seems to be complete immersion. Kids basically have no choice but to be immersed; they need to be able to communicate to express their basic needs. Adults can opt out, and the majority do, ironically, often by relying upon their kids.

    Incidentally, I don't think I've ever met an American who was hostile to the very notion of Spanish. I have met some who are hostile to the idea of bilingual education, though.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Foreign service courses (none / 0) (#267)
    by cr8dle2grave on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 01:04:24 PM EST

    Hey epepke, didn't know you did ESL.

    About those foreign service cd courses, would you recommend them? I've been strongly considering picking up Spanish in my spare time, but I'm not exactly gung-ho about doing a class at the local city college. Are they effective?

    I completed about 5 years of French instruction when I was younger, but, after years of neglect, I believe I'd need an English/French dictionary to have any chance of getting through even a simple 200 word newspaper article.

    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    Hello (none / 0) (#281)
    by epepke on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 11:47:02 PM EST

    About those foreign service cd courses, would you recommend them? I've been strongly considering picking up Spanish in my spare time, but I'm not exactly gung-ho about doing a class at the local city college. Are they effective?

    The CDs are excellent for a serious student. However, the ones I was able to get in the store only covered about the first half of the basic foreign service courses. I bought the basic when I was brushing up on Spanish for a trip to Mexico, where I got my TESL certificate. It was about $100, I think. Very good stuff. It even touched on the intonation and cadence.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Thanks [n/t] (none / 0) (#295)
    by cr8dle2grave on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 01:11:35 PM EST


    ---
    Unity of mankind means: No escape for anyone anywhere. - Milan Kundera


    [ Parent ]
    language aquisition (none / 0) (#286)
    by benxor on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 01:30:31 AM EST

    Even so, in a situation such as Mandarin vs. English, where one language does not recognise the contrastivity in a given set of sounds, it is very hard for speakers of that language who aren't young to artifically create that distinction through learning. Not necessarily impossible, depending on what theories of language aquisition you believe. But in the vast majority, I believe this is not the case: and the point I was trying to make, is that it's due to factors to do with language processing, not simply a case of laziness - the oft-quoted phrase (at least in my country, Australia) of 'they can't even be bothered to learn our language properly' being based on a misinterpretation of the way language works.

    ... However, I do not think that phonemic recognition and production is cut off by age, either. I was 24 before I could distinguish betwen the German "n" and "nn" and "s" and "ss," but now I can do it pretty well.

    But your ability to do so is an artificial construct - you can do it 'pretty well', presumably after a lot of training and learning.

    To give a competing example - I have a Russian friend who can only half-successfuly phonate the 'th' in English because he (and his calss) spent hours when he was 8 or 9 practising making the sound with their tongue inbetween their teeth ('th' of course doesn't exist in Russian). Because he was young, this has become part of his language - older friends of his can't do this, because they didn't have lots of training at a young age.
       Maybe training yourself to natively understand and reproduce a sound is possible after 13; maybe your ability to record new language patterns changes when you are immersed in a foreign culture. In general though, there seems to be a strong correlation between age and language aquisition abiltity; and social proclivity to learn new language going hand in hand with what stage you are at in life -- are you young and want to reject the culture of parents in favour of that of your peers; or are you old, and want to keep your culture?

    Anyway, all this aside, refer to the first parapgraph: my beef is with those who seem to think learning their language is some kind of duty of foreigners; that only the foreigners' outlook and culture should change to accomodate their new home, not ever the other way around; and that inability to make distinctions not in their native language is wholly about their effort in learning the new language - when it is at least partially, if not predominantly, neurological.

    --
    all generalisations are false - including this one
    [ Parent ]

    OK (none / 0) (#287)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:16:43 AM EST

    But your ability to do so is an artificial construct - you can do it 'pretty well', presumably after a lot of training and learning.

    Maybe it required a lot of training and learning, but I'm not prepared to call that artificial, because I have no way of comparing that with the amount of training and learning I had to do when I was 2. Because I can't remember much about when I was 2, and I don't think most people can. One of my earliest memories was reading June, 1964 off my calendar, which would have made me three years and a month old, and at that point I could read "June" and "1964." Except for flashes, I don't remember much before that. I certainly don't know how the fuck I knew that "June" meant the sixth month of the year; that was in place by the time I knew it. I think it reasonable to assume that pretty much all of my waking hours before that were spent trying to acquire language or motor skills or both. That's a hell of a lot of effort expended, and I don't know a way to quantify it, but it seems to me that existing studies do not account for it.

    Anyway, all this aside, refer to the first parapgraph: my beef is with those who seem to think learning their language is some kind of duty of foreigners; that only the foreigners' outlook and culture should change to accomodate their new home, not ever the other way around; and that inability to make distinctions not in their native language is wholly about their effort in learning the new language - when it is at least partially, if not predominantly, neurological.

    That's a political or ideological viewpoint, and I have little interest in those except for recreation. I also distrust cases where factual statements are made to buttress political or ideological views. To my way of thinking, whether language acquisition is neurological or not has nothing whatsoever to do with whether learning a language is a "duty" or people are "lazy," and it seems bizarre to me even to make the connection. It is difficult enough to figure out what reality is without declaring that reality must be some way in order to argue against some moron's ideological viewpoint. That just muddies the waters, and I have no use for or tolerance toward it.

    Similarly, it disturbs me when

    • Advocates of legaized marijuana, for ideological purposes, see fit to assert that deliberately concentrating and inhaling resinous smoke is utterly without health risk (I support legalization of marijuana, but shit, people, if the damn stuff makes people cough, there's prima facie reason to believe that it isn't so great for health.)
    • The CDC asserts that latex condoms never break based on a strategic decision that if they admitted that they sometimes break it would cause people not to use them. (They do break, and ironically, the policy keeps attention away from superior polyurethane condoms. But, hey, I guess killing people is a small price to pay for ideology.)
    • People argue that some people are born homosexual in order to claim that people have no choice in order to argue against homophobes (I am very much in favor of gay rights, but I am rather apalled at the need to believe that sexual identity does not develop over twenty years, and I have seen too many people go through that exploration and come to surprising conclusions to believe that sexual orientation is inborn.)
    • People believe deeply in folk medicine concepts left over from the 17th century like the "chemical imbalance" to explain mental "disorders" (I'm pretty radical about mental disorders and think that a lot of them are simply mismatches of personal characteristics within cultures, but I disdain ooga-booga pseudo-scientific explanations for the purposes of expedience.)

    But then again, I'm a weird motherfucker. I like to know what I'm talking about before deciding whether I'm fer or agin it. This probably makes me the spawn of Satan or something.

    As for language acquisition, well, it beats the fuck out of me. I only have my experience of learning four languages (if you count ASL as a language) about a decade doing cultural and structural linguistics on and off, and experience as a language teacher. That's pretty pathetic. If I were any damn good, I'd have solved the computational language-understanding and -production problem by now and released it under the GNU license. Of course, nobody else has, but that doesn't make me less pathetic; it just makes them more so.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    muh? (none / 0) (#320)
    by benxor on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 01:42:20 AM EST

    So, sorry, what was your point? You don't believe factual arguments should be used to back up an ideaology? I mean, you just did - you reasoned that just because mariguana should be legalised doesn't mean it isn't harmful in some ways.

    If what you mean is, an argument based on facts covering one issue should not be extended as something which can also be used to defend a whole range of other, in fact unrelated things: then I totally agree. But you misunderstand - I am not using language aquisition theories as my sword in a crusade against racism. I think it's a perfectly pertinant fact that shows us that a person's ability to learn a new language is not entirely effort based. I have noted that many people seem to think this, and thus they consider foreigners' lack of ability in producing perfect English as:
    -evidence of laziness on the foreigner's part
    -a crisis in language education
    -worrying evidence that foreigners don't respect their language, and soon, their language may not be the totally native one in Their Own Damn Country

    That sparks racism, and that's bad. That's all I meant.

    --
    all generalisations are false - including this one
    [ Parent ]

    Quite the opposite (none / 0) (#321)
    by epepke on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 05:33:58 AM EST

    I don't think that ideological arguments should drive factual arguments. I'll admit that I got a bit florid in the previous response, becuase I was thinking about some other things, so I'll try to bring it back to ground here.

    I don't really care whether it is a "foreigners" "duty" to learn a language. (What does "duty" mean in this context anyway?) What I care about is that learning a language gives people power. If they want to go out and acquire that power, then for them it's bitchen. If they don't, it

    sucks.

    Of course, any acquisition process also involves costs. It's up to the individual to make that determination.

    Going out and acquiring a language may give one benefits. It's up to the person to decide what he and/or she wants to do. You buys your ticket and you takes your chances; that's life.

    I think it's a perfectly pertinant fact that shows us that a person's ability to learn a new language is not entirely effort based. I have noted that many people seem to think this, and thus they consider foreigners' lack of ability in producing perfect English as:

    -evidence of laziness on the foreigner's part

    -a crisis in language education

    -worrying evidence that foreigners don't respect their language, and soon, their language may not be the totally native one in Their Own Damn Country

    This is the kind of thing I'm not really interested in. I don't put any onus on people to do anything--as far as I'm concerned they can just sit on the beach and macerate. De gustibus non disputandum est.

    However, if people do want to learn language, nor am I going to tell them that their brains have calcified or something, When I have students, it's my job to do my job, which is to work with them to acquire the power to speak the target language as well as we possibly can. I'm not in the business of declaring things impossible. I am well aware that I am in the minority, but I don't care, as certainly there are plenty of places people can go if they want that kind of experience. People don't need me for that.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    i'm not totally sure here... (none / 0) (#324)
    by benxor on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 07:43:14 AM EST

    ...but I think we agree. I don't think it's anybody's "duty" to learn a language - the idea that it is is what I'm against.

    Anyway, time to end this amiable thread. You say tomahto, I say tomaito on language aquisition. We don't think anyone should have to learn a language. If they want to, it's up to them to make it happen. Bam.

    =)

    --
    all generalisations are false - including this one
    [ Parent ]

    We're probably not in agreement (none / 0) (#345)
    by epepke on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 02:11:08 AM EST

    As I think I said, I look at things backward compared to most people. But on this issue, I think we're probably non-conflictatory, which isn't even a word, to declare a truce.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    [ns] (none / 3) (#216)
    by Mike Green Challenge on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:13:42 AM EST

    Could you please detail what public money is being used to fund Bush's re-election campaign? Thanks.

    --
    Aspies for Ron Paul
    [ Parent ]
    tax (none / 0) (#284)
    by benxor on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 01:09:46 AM EST

    The public money set aside for political campaigns? In any case I'm talking tongue in cheek. What I'm trying to say is, tax is spent on a lot of stupid things - it may as well be spent on something like this, which actually benefits the community paying the tax.

    --
    all generalisations are false - including this one
    [ Parent ]
    I've forgotten (none / 0) (#250)
    by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 08:13:17 PM EST

    Everyone seems to forget that the US used to be about predominantly non-English speaking, and yet virtually everybody speaks it today.

    Please refresh my memory. When was the United States predominantly non-English speaking?

    [ Parent ]

    new york (none / 0) (#285)
    by benxor on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 01:16:39 AM EST

    Okay, not exactly the whole of America. However there was a time in mid 1800's where there were about 10 different languages being spoken exclusively in different quarters of New York - Yiddish, Italian, German, Dutch etc. These regions even had their own newspapers and everything. I don't know about the multciculturality of other areas of the country at the time, but I suppose at varying times in the 1700's French would have been spoken in the South.
       There were also situations where small populations 95% of which spoke some non-English langauge wanted to cordon off their area or state, and have their language made the official language of that region.

    My point is that immigration, and even this separation of cultures, in America, has happened, and never had really ill effects. People integrate in the end - it's a seemingly natural process. Everyone seems to think immigration will just absolutely destroy the country, or 'balkanize' it or whatever, when great divisions in language and culture have already occured but eventually given rise to a richer society.

    --
    all generalisations are false - including this one
    [ Parent ]

    American history? (none / 3) (#220)
    by boxed on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 05:17:50 AM EST

    Why in gods name does so called american "history" any need to be in there? Total immersion is an effective, albeit traumatic, method of learning a new language, but I really don't see the point in the insistance on teaching immigrants more history than 90% of the american citizens who were born in the US know.

    I thought the US was about freedom? (2.80 / 5) (#221)
    by Nursie on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 05:33:02 AM EST

    Freedom to speak however you like, freedom to worship however you like.

    Why should anyone be forced to learn english if they can get by and make a living using spanish?
    If they can find a job that doesn't require english (which clearly they can), then they can enter society and function just as well as an english speaker.

    Surely they should not have to cater for your prejudiced white middle class sensibilities just because you say so?
    Learn some spanish so you can speak to them, or just accept that the world is diverse and some things exist outside white America.

    Meta Sigs suck.

    Actualy (none / 2) (#232)
    by CENGEL3 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:56:59 PM EST

    The whole "English is the Official Language" thing is about requiring that Official Government Business is conducted in English and that anyone who is a Government Employee (not neccesarly just Civil Servants) is required to speak English. Neither of which is the case now. There is nothing in it about private citizens. Though obviously it's better for everyone if people can communicate with one another in a common language.


    [ Parent ]
    Actually ... (none / 0) (#307)
    by cdguru on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 06:58:27 PM EST

    the idea isn't speaking as much as it is for official documents. Canada requires all documents (and packaging in stores) to be bilingual - English and French. I don't know how many more places both languages are required. The US is well on its way to being that way as many retailers are discovering a need for packaging to be bilingual. Most retail stores have figured out they need to produce signs in multiple languages for the same reason.

    The official language "problem" is shortly, if this continues, we will require all government forms at all levels to be translated. While this might make some sense in Chicago or Miami, I assure you it does not make sense in Rhinelander, WI. Not today and not for the foreseeable future. But, that is the problem with government regulations. We aren't likely to see a ruling that says Spanish is required in places where it makes sense. This would be too arbitrary and too difficult to enforce. So, we will see "Spanish is required everywhere" and we will all be paying increased taxes for the City Hall in Rhinelander, WI to hire a Spanish translator. Same with Boseman, MT and every other two-bit burg you can think of.

    The next step is to say that Spanish language speakers cannot be discriminated against. Therefore all job postings in newspapers must be in both English and Spanish. And so on. Now we have every business spending additional money to produce every written document in both English and Spanish. Just like it is already in Canada. You see, we have an excellent reference for how a bilingual society operates just over the border to the north.

    Combatting this is the motivation for the "English as the official language" movement. Some, less rabid folks would settle just fine for a "Spanish isn't required" law instead of declaring English to be the one and only official language.

    [ Parent ]

    Documents in Spanish (none / 0) (#308)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 07:25:09 PM EST

    Most public documents in the US are already available in Spanish as well. US law doesn't prevent this, and it usually happens according to market pressures. I agree with the status quo: government offices can print documents in Spanish if the pressures are sufficient, but they are neither required to do so nor forbidden from doing so.

    As far as freedoms go, well, you have the freedom not to learn English in most of the US, and you have the freedom not to learn Spanish in South Florida, Texas, California, etc. but this includes the freedom to be poorer because of those choices.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    As with all things, absolutes are for utopias (none / 0) (#269)
    by baalz on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 05:31:51 PM EST

    Sure, you have the right to speak spanish, but don't expect me to pay for it.  Your right to drive a vehicle is limited because it is undesirable for society as a whole to have people driving unless they meet certain minimum standards.  "I'm free, I can drive however the hell I want!".  Not if you expect to drive on an American rode, and I wouldn't expect many people would argue the morality of that.

    The same should be true about being an American citizen.  By all means, speak spanish at home, at work, and anywhere you can get away with it, this is America and you can do pretty much anything you want.  If, however, you are unable to communicate in English AS WELL, this creates many (potentially dangerous) problems for society as a whole.   Aside from the obvious problems (inability to understand laws/government documents, difficulty interacting with law enforcement, etc.) it encourages cultural fragmentation and resentment because people fear what they don't understand.  

    There are many costs incurred to society by citizens not being able to communicate (both monetary and abstract).   Why should we have to pay for someone to become a citizen who refuses to learn english, when so many other people want to live here?

    [ Parent ]

    Cool! (2.28 / 7) (#224)
    by Mr.Surly on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 10:15:01 AM EST

    Costs of the program should be borne by the taxpayer. In return, the taxpayer receives an immigrant who speaks at least functional English from the beginning of his residence.

    When do I get mine?  The dishes aren't going to do themselves.

    YES! English as the official US langauge. (none / 1) (#228)
    by 0x29a on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:16:47 PM EST

    While I do not agree that the idea should be universally applied throughout the entire fabric of American society, I do feel that it needs to be applied in some parts. I think there should be an English language requirement for anyone directly servicing the public, in an interfacing capacity, for more than 60% of their daily duties. Especially if that service is government related.

    Is it really annoying to be forced to have something accomplished by law (i.e DMV regulations) and have to fight a language barrier with the people trying to directly service you. It makes some things that are already tedious even more so, and actually hinders many peoplem, as the option to "take your business elsewhere is not existent".

    As far as the argument for decreased jobs for immigrants already burdened, I do not see a problem with language requirements for the front line employees, as only those that are interfacing directly with the public need the requirements. The rest can go about their usual lives. Also I think that the requirements might actually help with jobs, as they might provide stimulation to meet language requirements, thereby opening new avenues of employment


    Easy solution (none / 1) (#229)
    by Anonymous Brave on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 12:31:15 PM EST

    There's a very easy solution to that: just put everybody in America speaking the original languages spoken there by the natives :-)

    Speaking more seriously, that's a fatality: first there were the native languages, then Dutch (e.g., in New Amsterdam, now New York) and French (New Orleans), then English, now Spanish... who knows what's next... it's a natural thing, why worry?

    Around here in Portugal there's a big influx from Eastern Europe and there are already newspapers, radio shows and advertising in Russian... it's a natural thing...


    Wouldn't be so bad (none / 0) (#248)
    by epepke on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 08:07:10 PM EST

    There's a very easy solution to that: just put everybody in America speaking the original languages spoken there by the natives :-)

    I wouldn't mind. A fairly large chunk of American English consists of words from Native languages, mostly from the various Creek languages.

    I remember a discussion with an English friend, in which I pointed out that we called a class of New World autumn fruits with not much simple sugar but fairly significant starch "squash." He was amazed and asked "why?" Of course, it's a shortening of the Creek Indian term. Also of course, these are for some reason called "vegetable marrows" in England, which confuses me to no end, because "marrow" over here is the fatty, bloody, goopy stuff inside bones.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    Spanish Education (none / 0) (#233)
    by mikelist on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 01:39:01 PM EST

    I kinda like the idea of compulsory Spanish, although a lot of stuff changes, depending on where the 'habla espanero' is from. High school Spanish is european spanish and it is often not relevent to 'spanish' as spoken on the American continents, perhaps,unless you are a writer.

    False Assumptions and Facts (3.00 / 7) (#253)
    by seaya on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 09:03:31 PM EST

    As an ESL teacher myself I was annoyed at your false description of ESL.

    ESL is teaching English and not teaching the first language. Of course I sometimes explain in the first language (when I can) difficult things like why parents have to sign a document and return it, etc, but my classes are all in English.

    But, conversely, it does not mean I think that their first language should be wiped out or that that is a point.

    Studies have shown that literacy of any kind, even first language literacy, contributes to literacy as a whole. The skills learned in decoding and interpreting any language can be transferred from one to the other.

    Often times knowledge of student abilities in L1 (shorthand for first language) can directly inform the direction of learning in L2.

    English "immersion" is what ESL already is, except slightly more compassionate than your description of it.

    Regarding the link you posted for evidence of the superiority of immersion, I give you this one:

    http://www.fairtest.org/arn/krashentabe.html

    Increase in test scores was determined as being because of teaching to the test, preventing lower scoring folks from taking the test at all, test scores rose universally among all populations including those schools that kept bilingual education, and so forth.

    Because there is no real statistical difference between immersion and bilingual programs, it is actually better to use bilingual programs because they allow students to keep their culture and draw upon their L1 literacy skills.

    Yes, that's right, I just told you that the way I teach English is not as good. But, it's what my district has, and I'm watchful not to discount the students' culture and the worth of the L1.

    Regarding all students learning Spanish, I cannot disagree with you there. In terms of results, the best programs are indeed dual immersion English/other language whereby proficient English speakers learn what it's like to be a language learner and each group of folk can help each other in both instructional situations.

    In a county or region without one significant immigrant population, it would be difficult to pick which language would be given this status as to warrant the program. Students in minority second languages would still need ESL.

    Regarding "official language" nonsense, I like how this country doesn't have one. Certain aspects of government are already required to be in English. School instruction is already required to include and feature English. What else do we really need unless we want to restrict personal freedom and be bigoted?

    English is a world language and is pretty much internationally dominant. No law is needed or will change much of anything.

    I am also offended by your positive use of the term "assimilate". Assimilation is the loss of culture, period. It is the Borg. We will take what we like of your culture (tacos, dance steps, music, etc.) and use what we perceive as your best features to enhance our society and throw out the rest.

    Your overall analysis comes from being in the dominant culture and the assumption that everyone should be or should want to be.

    There are certain things we will have in common just by living here and blending over time, but to forcibly rid someone of their culture for the good of the dominant group, yet at the same time taking and enjoying any piece of the non-dominant culture you think is "cool" or "exotic" is a recipe for racism. And by racism I mean systemic unequal treatment and priveleging of one way of being over another.



    Education (none / 1) (#258)
    by adimovk5 on Tue Jun 01, 2004 at 10:37:01 PM EST

    ESL description. My description of ESL was not false. It was the description of ESL as implemented in a large well-funded school district in the suburbs of a large US city. I grew up with immigrants who were subjected to this treatment. They spent all their school age years in ESL.

    Languicide. I do not advocate the elimination of anyone's first language. What I advocate is the teaching of English to all immigrants and their children at the earliest point possible. A common language benefits all.

    Literacy. I have trouble believing your literacy studies. In my personal experience, the people I knew were intelligent. They had no trouble in courses in their own language. They did have trouble with courses in English. If at some point, those skills may be transferrable, it wasn't evident for anyone I knew. Languages have different structures and skill in one does not guarantee skill in another.

    The exceptional immigrant students were those for whom ESL did not exist due to budget constraints. There weren't enough immigrants in their language. I grew up watching them progress from poor English to (accented) fluent English.

    The Link. I concede that conclusions drawn from the study appear to be correct. However, it is all evidence showing the weakness of the arguments used by some of the immersion advocates. It is not a complete breakdown of the California system before and after. Nor does it prove the supremacy of the ESL system. All the attacks are based in statistics. All the defenses are rhetoric only.

    Do you have any links that support the primacy of ESL over immersion? I am truly interested in learning more on the subject. I am not an expert. I don't claim to be and I am always willing to learn more.

    Opinion. You can't reasonably argue that there is no statistical difference between ESL and immersion and then use an emotional argument to claim that ESL is better.

    Culturicide. I am not advocating the destruction of anyone's culture. Teaching English and culture destruction are not synonymous. Language is not culture. A people whose culture requires a certain language to survive have a poor culture. Texas has a rich Hispanic culture and yet it is not necessary to speak Spanish to appreciate it, live in it or enjoy it.

    Borg. I detest references to pop culture as arguments.

    Emotion as argument. You argued your final points as pure emotion. You were offended. You accused me of a dominant culture bias. You accused me of racism. None of these arguments are valid without proof. They may work against the students in the school where you teach.

    as·sim·i·late

    1. Physiology.
      1. To consume and incorporate (nutrients) into the body after digestion.
      2. To transform (food) into living tissue by the process of anabolism; metabolize constructively.
    2. To incorporate and absorb into the mind: assimilate knowledge.
    3. To make similar; cause to resemble.
    4. Linguistics. To alter (a sound) by assimilation.
    5. To absorb (immigrants or a culturally distinct group) into the prevailing culture.

    Assimilation. Which dictionary do you use to teach your students? America assimilates other cultures. It is a culture of cultures. Each region has a distinctness that gives it its own special flavor. There is no reason why 20th century immigrants should be any different. There is no reason why Spanish speaking immigrants should be any different.

    rac·ism

    1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
    2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

    dis·crim·i·na·tio n

    1. The act of discriminating.
    2. The ability or power to see or make fine distinctions; discernment.
    3. Treatment or consideration based on class or category rather than individual merit; partiality or prejudice: racial discrimination; discrimination against foreigners.

    Definitons. Are teachers now allowed to assign there own definitions to words?

    Is it forbidden to enjoy only part of a culture?

    Are cultures indivisible things that must be experienced only as a whole?



    [ Parent ]

    Assimilation (2.50 / 4) (#310)
    by epepke on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 08:03:51 PM EST

    I am also offended by your positive use of the term "assimilate". Assimilation is the loss of culture, period. It is the Borg. We will take what we like of your culture (tacos, dance steps, music, etc.) and use what we perceive as your best features to enhance our society and throw out the rest.

    First, I can remember reading about the things that can happen when different cultures are put side-by-side. None of them are particularly happy-happy joy-joy outcomes, and assimilation is far from the worst. You would prefer, say, extermination? Or segregation and the whole separate-but-equal schtick? It's the liberal dream that somehow cultures can coexist peacefully. I still haven't given up on that dream, but looking around the world today, I don't see a lot of evidence for it. It is entirely possible that a certain amount of dulling homogeneity is the price that we will have to pay for peace.

    Second, taking what you like from a culture and leaving the rest is a basic human freedom. Without an oppressive State, it's pretty much impossible to stop. And why should one want to stop it? I'd much rather be able to take the things I like from many European cultures (good beer, classical music, public transport) and leave the things I don't like (pervasive antisemitism, a fear of bathing).

    Third, this neglects the fact that when people assimilate, the culture that they come up with is often fresh and exciting and to a significant degree new. Take jazz, for instance. Great stuff, the origin of all 20th century music. It's a product of African, Eastern European/Gypsy, Western European, and South American influences.

    Fourth, every single damn culture that anybody is trying to keep pure and protect from assimilation is itself a product of assimilation, and probably has been since the first two rock-banging australopithecines decided to get it on. You mention tacos. They aren't Spanish. Maize is not native to Europe. They are one of the products of, basically, a bunch of short guys on horseback with crested helmets on who came to the New World and killed the men and raped the women. Details vary, but every culture is substantially like this. Deal.

    Fifth, you can be offended by it all you want, but assimilation is like evolution. It happens, and it takes no prisoners. You might as well urinate in the ocean as to oppose it. Every time someone comes to, say, Florida and finds out that wool parkas aren't the best way to dress and you can't get decent rancid yak butter, assimilation happens.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    That's incredibly offensive. (none / 2) (#333)
    by livus on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 10:20:24 PM EST

    I know you're no troll, so I really strongly urge you to take time to research what the effects of forced assimilation have been on, say, subjugated indigenous populations under colonization.

    Assimilation as a political or social policy is right up there with extermination and apartheid, and claiming that it's  "a basic human freedom" or just a part of evolution sounds like you're some sort of malthusian racist neo-hitler, which I don't think you are.

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]

    Sure, it's offensive (none / 1) (#343)
    by epepke on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 12:02:32 AM EST

    But everything that happens to immigrants and to cultural mixtures is offensive. That is, pretty much, my point. Hey, I didn't make the human species. I just live here.

    As a political or social policy, well, nobody voted me to the board of people who get to determine social policy.

    You may not like it, but people assimilate. That's a fact. If nothing else, every culture has teenagers, and they all go through a period of rebellion at their culture and xenocentrism. 250,000 years ago, I'm sure that there were 13-year-olds who wore their nose bones, or whatever, in the style of the tribe down the savannah, and I'm sure their fathers shouted at them. But they didn't make them stop, and you're not gonna, either.

    And if that makes me sound like some kind of Malthusian racist neo-Hitler, then your reaction makes you sound like the kind of ultra-conservative who wants to lock teenagers in closets or cut their nuts off. Which I don't think makes you one either, though you may be one of those young people who has never survived any actual significant changes and so imagines a snapshot as permanent.

    You can't stop it. Languages borrow and incorporate words; cultures borrow and incorporate customs, and it's gonna happen no matter how much you rant and rail about it.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    erm, that wasnt at all my point (none / 0) (#346)
    by livus on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 06:47:05 AM EST

    and I think I agree with you in part. Cultures are not static, they grow and change, and some level of borrowing and assimilation occurs all the time where different cultures mix just as striation or splintering occurs where different elements of the same culture experience differentthings from each other. Language changes all the time or it dies.

    There are also different levels of assimilation including very benign ones such as what you celebrate when you talk about taking the parts that you like, and much harsher ones where you are made to take everyhing.

    However when a culture comes across another culture and decides to use forced assimilation as a social policy, eg beatings for speaking your own language at compulsory school, laws against all local customs, etc, then it's not some inevitable natural phenomenon, it's a specific deliberate political action. All I am objecting to is the painting of all assimilation as positive and evolutionary which in the context of language teaching it most certainly isn't.

    I live in a country where forced assimilation used to be the policy and although of course it didnt work we are all very aware of the massive trauma it caused generations of people. Now I am watching many more mild varients at work. So no, I don't think a culture is permanent. I just think that nuances are important to remember.

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]

    Of course not (none / 1) (#349)
    by epepke on Sun Jun 06, 2004 at 11:04:41 PM EST

    Of course that wasn't your point. I'm not talking about forced assimilation. You were the one who opted to insert an implied "forced" so that you could get all offended and say "neo-Hitler" (I know, you didn't capitalize "Hitler," but I am an English teacher after all.) If you had fun doing that, good for you! I'm just setting you straight about what I was saying. Which may or may not work, and I don't care an awful lot which.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    no, in the context of this thread (none / 0) (#350)
    by livus on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 12:43:40 AM EST

    I don't think it is clear that no one but me was referring to anything other than a very specific and narrow definition of assimilation - ie voluntary, organic, etc.

    I think that it was very nice of you to enlighten me as to the sense in which you mean your comments, and that it has worked.

    (As for hitler: it has become a common noun in my opinion and thus no longer merits capitals).

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]

    shrug (none / 1) (#351)
    by epepke on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 01:14:34 AM EST

    I don't think it is clear that no one but me was referring to anything other than a very specific and narrow definition of assimilation - ie voluntary, organic, etc.

    Fair enough. But you did the knee-jerk thing about my comments, and if you're ticked off about someone else's, perhaps you could consider spewing some gall that way rather than mine?

    (As for hitler: it has become a common noun in my opinion and thus no longer merits capitals).

    Have it your way (a Burger King slogan).


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    gall?! (none / 0) (#356)
    by livus on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 05:40:45 AM EST

    tone is everything, I suppose, and as we've all had occasion to find by now the net forum is one of the worst mediums for communicating tone that there is, especially cross culturally. I'm sorry if I came accross that way. But, it was your response to someone's response to someone else that I felt like taking issue with, so my comments aren't misplaced.

    Ugh, surely there is no way to have Burger King!

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]

    the borg are cool (none / 1) (#358)
    by Phil San on Mon Jun 07, 2004 at 11:46:19 AM EST

    I am also offended by your positive use of the term "assimilate". Assimilation is the loss of culture, period. It is the Borg. We will take what we like of your culture (tacos, dance steps, music, etc.) and use what we perceive as your best features to enhance our society and throw out the rest.

    I'm afraid you have no choice in the matter. Most people aren't stupid enough to waste their time trying to keep whole cultures around so anthropologists and linguists can study them.

    Plus the borg are fucking cool.

    First, I can remember reading about the things that can happen when different cultures are put side-by-side. None of them are particularly happy-happy joy-joy outcomes, and assimilation is far from the worst. You would prefer, say, extermination? Or segregation and the whole separate-but-equal schtick? It's the liberal dream that somehow cultures can coexist peacefully. I still haven't given up on that dream, but looking around the world today, I don't see a lot of evidence for it. It is entirely possible that a certain amount of dulling homogeneity is the price that we will have to pay for peace.

    I find your analysis of other cultural interaction strategies to be a nice admission. Frankly I can't fucking tolerate when people assume that, say for example the worthless rag heads in Iraq seem to have an inability to deal with their problems of different ethnic and racial groups and it's just totally impossible.

    I think that if the United States can do it anyone can.

    Dulling? I think you're full of it.

    I think some people just don't want anything to do with certain groups and have that right not to deal with them.

    Case in point: Spics

    Frankly the whole group of people south of the Rio Grande are just about worthless as human beings go. They love to come to the United States primarily because they seem to have such shitty governments that can't even properly take care of them.

    They seem to do the happy dance when they can commit gross acts of smuggling of narcotics so they can increase crime and subvert proper democratic and legal functioning.

    Want to know something fun? It's largely due to California and it's delightfully slave like system in the agricultural system that has made this happen more and more.

    Kevin Starr explores this in a delightful book (actually it's a series) called "The Dream Endangered" which talks about all the wonderfully miserable system of crappy low paid labor which lures most of these people. It's been going on since the early days of the 20th century because people are cheap and like pathetic slaves.

    But I could rant about this all day.

    Second, taking what you like from a culture and leaving the rest is a basic human freedom. Without an oppressive State, it's pretty much impossible to stop. And why should one want to stop it? I'd much rather be able to take the things I like from many European cultures (good beer, classical music, public transport) and leave the things I don't like (pervasive antisemitism, a fear of bathing).

    I would agree in principle with this.

    Third, this neglects the fact that when people assimilate, the culture that they come up with is often fresh and exciting and to a significant degree new. Take jazz, for instance. Great stuff, the origin of all 20th century music. It's a product of African, Eastern European/Gypsy, Western European, and South American influences.

    I would somewhat dispute that the entire body of modern music is based on jazz. Something is rotten in the state of Denmark (which might explain the smell) if you think that.

    Something from music appreciation class back in school tells me that all music is more or less based on classical themes.

    Fourth, every single damn culture that anybody is trying to keep pure and protect from assimilation is itself a product of assimilation, and probably has been since the first two rock-banging australopithecines decided to get it on. You mention tacos. They aren't Spanish. Maize is not native to Europe. They are one of the products of, basically, a bunch of short guys on horseback with crested helmets on who came to the New World and killed the men and raped the women. Details vary, but every culture is substantially like this. Deal.

    I think you principally mix up Spanish brutality and fanatacism with the rest of the world in North America.

    The English by and far were the least likely to do the above rapeing and direct killing, being a more religious sort (Well I guess you can call the Spanish [who might be remembered from such fun events as stealing gold and the Inquisition] religious if you use a broad definition.) didn't engage in that sort of thing.

    Fifth, you can be offended by it all you want, but assimilation is like evolution. It happens, and it takes no prisoners. You might as well urinate in the ocean as to oppose it. Every time someone comes to, say, Florida and finds out that wool parkas aren't the best way to dress and you can't get decent rancid yak butter, assimilation happens.

    I would agree in principle with the spirit of this comment.

    However the new breed of "pretend my shitty non American culture is important" crowd is to try and lead the most isolated lives as possible.

    [ Parent ]

    There is another way (none / 1) (#279)
    by Orion Blastar on Wed Jun 02, 2004 at 11:04:09 PM EST

    why delay the inedible? Make learning Spanish a manditory class in public schools. If we cannot teach them to read/speak English, we can teach everyone else how to read/speak Spanish. They will soon make up 51% of the population if they keep immigrating here and having offspring like rabbits.

    Other countries teach different languages in public schools, why can't ours?

    Also teach:

    German, French, Chinese (Mandran and Traditional), as well as Hindu. The last one is important to learn to be able to talk to most help desks, as their English speaking skills are very poor.

    Learn as many languages as you can, you might just need them.

    The more you know.... ah forget it!
    *** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***

    Mandarin and Traditional? WTF, mate? (none / 1) (#294)
    by craigd on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 12:52:36 PM EST

    Mandarin is a spoken language that can be written with Simplified or Traditional characters. Either set can also be used for the other sinitic languages, such as Cantonese.


    A man who says little is a man who speaks two syllables.
    [ Parent ]
    How am I supposed to know that? (none / 1) (#298)
    by Orion Blastar on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 02:06:26 PM EST

    I don't read or speak either one. I am also from 4096 AD were they don't speak those anymore. I only speak Vilani and Galanglic and perhaps that ancient Anglec on occasions. I had to learn English when I crashed my ship on Terra, which in this centry is called Earth.

    So please let me know if you speak Vilani, Galanglic, or Anglec and what you know about those three languages that have not yet been invented.

    My apologizes to people of Chinese origins. I want to learn to speak your languages, really, but my time has been spent with family, college, and other things.
    *** Anonymized by intolerant editors at K5 and also IWETHEY who are biased against the mentally ill ***
    [ Parent ]

    Teach us our own culture (3.00 / 4) (#291)
    by shomon2 on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 09:06:09 AM EST

    Here's my viewpoint as a spanish speaking ex-refugee, in the UK:

    It's proven that every new influx of migrants into a culture end up enriching that culture in some way. Belgians brought us Fish & Chips, Karl Marx, Popper, Freud - all of these were migrants - well I'm sure there are better examples at http://www.salaam.co.uk/themeofthemonth/august02_index.php?l=11
    or if you google for "refugee belgian chips" there's a word doc with a better history and highlighting of the effect of refugees on british culture.

    So what will be the enrichment that your spanish speaking migrants will bring in the US? I think to myself that sadly it won't be very much.

    I was in Maryland in January of this year, and got to see a little of it. I hope it's just a biased view and someone will be able to stand up and correct me - but this is what I saw:

    Spanish language press was very pro bush although it centred on the soldiers coming home dead from Iraq. This is relevant because the idea I get from people in Chile (my country of birth) is that there are lots of opinions, but the point of view of some members of my extended family was that the people who choose to emigrate to the US are mostly right wing or somehow value money over other values.

    I was spoken to a lot in Spanish in shops, because I look south american, but I heard a lot about how spanish speakers feel like borderline ethnic groups - and as in lots of these, the whiter skinned hispanics have a lot to gain from losing any identifying features and just sinking in to the surrounding culture. African Americans stood out much more, in the media and in the way they dressed etc maybe through all their efforts in the past century to strengthen their standing and culture.

    As it may be for a lot of second generation immigrants - my parents were my first link to my culture. I only found it annoying and really didn't open up to how valuable it was until I found myself alone having moved to scotland to start university. I started asking my family for tapes of chilean music, ponchos, ojotas, fabric designs, books, t shirts - something to assert my identity where I felt the side of me that's chilean was in danger of falling by the wayside.

    And then as I grew to understand more about it I was just amazed by it. Spanish the language for example, is the language of conquerors, a beautiful gift as Neruda the Poet puts it - to our culture. In my blood is the blood of all these people who made our history through US influence in the past 50 years, before that the British empire's influence and before that, spanish rule and war against the indigenous peoples, the fights of the Mapuche - from the south of Chile, who were never conquered while the rest of Chile was under spanish rule - are worthy of another mel gibson film for their ferocity and spectacularity, using guerilla warfare in the middle ages and transforming from a nomadic to a society founded on war against the invaders. This is balanced most of the time by the advanced music, tradition, agriculture and social structure of the Aymara people in the north - although they also were guilty of genocide at least once against the spaniards.

    But, as this is about language - what about the native languages? The language my dad spoke when he was a little boy in the Andes was Aymara. A language that's been studied a lot for it's uses as a universal translation device - because of it's use of Trivalent logic. Just for these reasons I'd love there to be a course somewhere to learn it. I've discovered a really beautiful and varied culture. Are these things remembered at all by the hispanic migrants in the USA?

    How can we enrich the culture of others if we don't value our own? As the Tabla player Zakir Hussain once said, when asked how he is able to let his music mix so freely with the music of other cultures - ..There was enough of a connection to my roots that there was little danger of me being overwhelmed by what I saw in the world.

    I thought fish and chips was a Russian import? (none / 0) (#323)
    by nebbish on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 06:43:01 AM EST

    Not that that detracts in any way from what you have to say.

    ---------
    Kicking someone in the head is like punching them in the foot - Bruce Lee
    [ Parent ]

    and I thought chips were belgian, but fish (none / 0) (#332)
    by livus on Fri Jun 04, 2004 at 10:14:07 PM EST

    wasn't? Of course, there's a rumour here that British F&C is weird anyway...

    ---
    HIREZ substitute.
    be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
    I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
    I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
    I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

    [ Parent ]
    Probably Portugese (none / 1) (#342)
    by epepke on Sat Jun 05, 2004 at 11:46:39 PM EST

    Fried fish, that is. The Catholic Portugese have been frying fish on Friday forever. They carried the practice to Japan, who improved upon it and called it "tempura," which is based on a Latin word.


    The truth may be out there, but lies are inside your head.--Terry Pratchett


    [ Parent ]
    the point of public education is... (none / 0) (#305)
    by wakim1618 on Thu Jun 03, 2004 at 06:40:06 PM EST

    that one spin-off would be the making of a citizen who is literate, capable of reasoning, and all that - so that we can have a well-functioning democracy.

    On the other hand, maybe it is a good thing not to be able have to pretend to understand Bush or Kerry speaking...


    If I wanted dumb people to love me, I'd start a cult.

    And for Those Who Can't Read English... (none / 1) (#373)
    by Milo Minderbinder on Tue Jul 13, 2004 at 05:09:05 PM EST

    "CRISIS"

    La afluencia de una gran cantidad de gente de habla hispana en los Estados Unidos se trata a menudo como crisis de proporciones épicas. Pueble quién preocupación sobre las resmas del producto de la situación de datos para sostener sus asunciones. Señalan a la inmigración de levantamiento. Señalan a los altos índices de natalidad. They're se armó con los anecdotes que han salido de ellos amargos. Sobretodo, temen un mundo en el cual estén en la misma situación que los inmigrantes. Temen un mundo en el cual can't se comuniquen para hacer sus necesidades resolver. Temen el balkanization del país.

    La solución típica ofrecida es hacer inglés la lengua oficial. ¿Eso solucionaría el problema? Wouldn't evita que los inmigrantes usen español. Para lograr eso, we'd tienen que requerir solamente inglés para dirigir negocio. ¿Qué eso haría? Los altavoces españoles con habilidades inglesas pobres serían forzados en el desempleo o trabajos bajos del salario o aún en actividades ilegales. Podríamos evitar eso requiriendo fluidez inglesa antes de la inmigración en el país. La inmigración entonces sería casi imposible para la gente pobre trabajadora que apenas desea una vida mejor.

    INMERSIÓN

    Hay soluciones mejores. Uno de éstos es inmersión inglesa. Sobre la aceptación en el país, cada inmigrante debe ser requerido terminar un curso inglés de la inmersión. En un programa tan inglés de la inmersión, enseñan el inmigrante inglés y solamente inglés. Junto con el curso de la inmersión, los adultos deben ser enseñados historia americana. Los niños deben ser enseñados el curso de la inmersión y después ser enviados encendido a la escuela. Solamente sobre la terminación del curso de la inmersión y de la historia americana el curso si se concede la residencia permanente. Hasta entonces, una residencia temporal debe ser concedida.

    Los programas de la inmersión no son iguales que inglés como programas segundos de una lengua (ESL). Los programas de ESL continúan enseñando en la lengua materna de immigrant's y retardan la absorción del inglés. Los programas de la inmersión enseñan casi enteramente en inglés.

    Los costes del programa se deben llevar por el contribuyente. En vuelta, el contribuyente recibe a inmigrante que habla por lo menos inglés funcional del principio de su residencia. Los ahorros de coste deben resultar de la necesidad reducida de traductores y de documentos oficiales en un idioma extranjero. La inmersión aumentaría la velocidad a la cual los inmigrantes integran. Sería una ventaja gozada por la sociedad entera.

    ABSORCIÓN

    Incluso sin la inmersión, absorben a los inmigrantes en la cultura. La primera generación tiene siempre la mayoría del apuro. Las idiomas se aprenden fácilmente mientras que los jóvenes. El escoger encima de nuevas idiomas es más difícil para más viejos niños y muy difícil para los adultos maduros. Hay también la materia de la cultura. Mucha de la lengua se compone de las ideas y de las referencias que eluden a extranjeros. Sin embargo, la segunda generación tiene pocos problemas. Llevado en América, absorben los sonidos, la lengua y la cultura con facilidad. Puesto que sus padres son inmigrantes, aprenden dos culturas. Esto les deja un poco de la sinc., pero encuentran más fácil vivir en su patria adoptada los padres. La tercera generación está generalmente completamente en la sinc. con la sociedad. En hecho, la tercera generación tiende para tener comprensión del apuro y referente a sus grandparents.

    ESPAÑOL

    La gente de habla hispana forma el número más grande de la gente de discurso no-Inglesa en los Estados Unidos. De la información en el censo 1990, un mapa hispánico del origen fue creado para demostrar su distribución en los Estados Unidos. La población total era el solamente 9% de la población total pero concentrado pesadamente en el sudoeste y en la Florida meridional de hasta el 60%. Las ciudades tales como Nueva York y Chicago también tienen concentraciones grandes. Su porcentaje de la población está creciendo debido a los altos índices de natalidad e inmigración hispánicos de América latina.

    En luz de este hecho, además de la inmersión inglesa, los estudiantes americanos deben ser requeridos aprender español antes de graduar. El español que aprende beneficiaría grandemente a todos los estudiantes americanos. Podrían obrar recíprocamente con la población de habla hispana de los E.E.U.U. que forman a quinto población de habla hispana más grande del mundo, después de México, de España, de la Argentina y de Colombia. También accederían 392 millones de personas de en más de 40 países que hablan español. Casi toda la sur y America Central habla español. Los estudiantes americanos tendrían la ventaja de saber las segundas y cuartas idiomas lo más comúnmente posible habladas del mundo y de los dos distribuidos lo más extensamente posible.

    OTRAS IDIOMAS

    La diversidad de la lengua ha estado siempre con nosotros. Tenemos altavoces alemanes en Tejas y Pennsylvania. Tenemos altavoces franceses en Luisiana. Tenemos altavoces hawaianos en Hawaii. Ha habido enclaves extranjeros grandes en los E.E.U.U. en el pasado:

    En el censo 1890 había 4.5 por tantos altavoces no-Ingleses, hablando proporcional, que en el censo 1990 (a pesar de su capacidad superior de contar a tales grupos). Hace un siglo había enclaves importantes en el sudoeste, Luisiana, el Cercano oeste superior, y Nueva Inglaterra, donde colonial, inmigrante, y las idiomas indígenas predominaron - lejos más grandes que sus contrapartes hoy.

    OPORTUNIDAD

    de 1890 acoplamientos The.large.number.of altavoces españoles en los Estados Unidos no son una crisis que se evitará. Es una oportunidad ser satisfecho. Debemos ayudar a locutores españoles a asimilarlos y alternadamente a utilizar como puente en el mundo de habla hispana.
    --
    M & M ENTERPRISES, FINE FRUITS AND PRODUCE.

    Don't Fear Their Spanish | 373 comments (331 topical, 42 editorial, 0 hidden)
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