Tired of Pressing “One” for English

If our Constitution is written in English and we are an English-speaking people, why in the world do I have to go through listening to: “For English, press one. Se Habla Espanol, press two. For more options… etc.”? And this is coming from a girl who is half Hispanic. Let’s face it: there’s a Spanish translation for everything these days. That new iPhone you just bought, telling you how to call tech support; for directions on how to put together that microwave, the baby crib, and Barbie Dollhouse. Even when you go to a restaurant the bathrooms have a translation on the door (as if the little pictures on the sign weren’t enough to help decipher). And I’m not just talking about signs in public areas and phone calls to the local hardware store.

Now that the Class of 2012 is graduated, the speeches made during the commencement ceremonies are topics of discussion, especially one California high school who became a talking point on Fox and Friends after this year’s Valedictorian for Orestimba High School delivered his speech entirely in Spanish only speaking in English to tell the audience if they didn’t know Espanol, tough luck. He wanted to honor his parents and the people in charge said they didn’t have enough time for translating. Oh, the outrage! Oh, the nerve! Last year a principle made local headlines for giving parts of his speech in Spanish and then translating in English for those who couldn’t understand. The principle explained in an interview afterwards that he was trying to be all-encompassing, stating that he didn’t want to alienate those who would better understand if he spoke in their native tongue.

And it’s not just principals and students alienating English-speaking citizens that causes such outrage amongst Americans. Just open a voting guide where half the book is dedicated to the Spanish language to “protect minority rights” and help voters know who’s running.

The Liberal Left’s argument includes politically correct language like: an English-only attitude in the public arena would “prohibit a progressive mind-set to create a more diverse America and bring cultural awareness to society.” Hispanics are the poor minority we’re suppressing so they must be allowed to speak their native language. After-all, languages are ever-evolving anyways, so why bother insisting we’re a people of one language?

The rebuttal from Conservatives like myself to that argument is this: speaking one language everyone can understand doesn’t promote a sense of racial superiority amongst a country’s people. It unifies them so that they can understand each other and communicate effectively. Just imagine the jumbled mess we’d experience every day if you couldn’t tell your French-speaking butcher you wanted beef, and not pork. After all, we are the United States of America. The Declaration of Independence and our Constitution (the latter of which we all follow as the law of the land) were both written in English, therefore it’s natural to be an English-speaking people.

On the case of Hispanic immigrants whose English is no bueno, I say only this: this trend needs to change. You don’t go to foreign countries expecting to be part of the people without first wanting to learn the language so as not to offend the locals. It’s common sense. Not only is it offensive, but also arrogant. People have worked hard to make this country so great. Wars have been fought, blood has been spilt, and many years of back-breaking work by its citizens of all racial backgrounds is what has made this country the free and independent place we all enjoy. Expecting everyone else to speak a language that may not be part of their initial heritage or is beyond their skill just so one group of people feel welcomed is demeaning and haughty. You move to a country because you appreciate its values, its culture, and its people. That includes learning the native language. Here in America we speak English. Let’s decrease the risk of Carpal Tunnel and stop making our citizens push “one” for our native language, shall we?

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10 Responses

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  1. CDL
    Jun 21, 2012 - 05:06 PM

    Yes, it’s a problem if immigrants refuse to learn English, but as Chelle points out, most probably are learning–you don’t learn a language (least of all English) overnight.

    In most of the world, bilingualism is expected, and it’s not unusual for a person to be fluent in four or five languages and have some functional ability in several others.

    If you nativists bitched half as much about Americans who refuse to learn a second language as you do about immigrants who refuse to learn English, it would be a whole lot easier to take you seriously.

    • Chelle
      Jun 23, 2012 - 03:55 PM

      Americans benefit so much from English being so widely spoken that its so laughable. When I went to Japan, yea there was some retail people that didn’t speak English and we had to hand montion our way through. But all the tours? Major attractions? Have English options.

  2. Mark Watts
    Jun 21, 2012 - 03:52 PM

    All I Can say is THANK YOU, You hit the nail on the head.

  3. Victoria
    Jun 21, 2012 - 03:17 PM

    While I agree that immigrants should learn the language of a country, you forget several points. First of all, there is no official language in this country. You talk about our early documents, but maybe unknown to you, there were several early local documents in German. Second, it takes time to learn a language and many immigrants are older, and it is very difficult for them to learn the language. I know plenty of older Hispanics who came over here and love this country and its ideals, but were unable to learn to speak English fluently. Are you suggesting we reject an 80 year old who came here when she was 50 and tried but was unable to learn English? Or call her unAmerican when she has dedicated much time to local public service (I know a specific example)? And probably knows much more about this country’s history and the true meaning of its ideals than plenty of English speakers. Third, the Anglo-Centrism of this country has put this country behind in so many ways. More and more scientific evidence has shown the incredible value of bilingualism. Like I said, I do think immigrants should learn English, but this does not mean that English speakers should not try to learn Spanish. Plenty of countries have multiple official languages or at least very much encourage the learning of multiple languages. Something tells me Americans do like it that there are so many English options now when visiting Europe. But anyway, this country is “the melting pot.” We are supposed to be embracing multi-culturalism, and this includes languages, not rejecting it and enforcing monolingualism and a single American culture (then you start sounding a bit too much like some guys in the 1930s and 40s). Lastly, never forget that this is the land of the free (or at least so we claim to be). If some of us want to speak Spanish, and companies happen to then cater to that, then so be it. It would be a pretty easy case that governmental enforcement of English, especially on businesses like you seem to be suggesting, would be a huge violation of our First Amendment.

  4. Chelle
    Jun 19, 2012 - 08:35 PM

    You have to press 1 for English because corporations are more interested in getting Spanish speakers money rather than being PC.

    Further, its impossible to learn a language overnight. For all you know, they are trying to learn.

    Frankly, if people’s biggest annoynce is both English and Spanish options, they’re pretty lucky in the grand scheme of things.

  5. The Political Informer
    Jun 19, 2012 - 08:21 PM

    You’d never go to France or Russia and expect them to know your language. You visit or move to another country you better be prepared to learn the language. I don’t see how that doesn’t apply here. We’re a melting pot, not the UN.

    • Vinny J
      Jun 19, 2012 - 08:53 PM

      Right on. I studied abroad in Russia for nearly 6 months…the most English I saw places was in restaurants in tourist-heavy areas. Once upon a time you came to America and you embraced its culture to the max…not so much these days.



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