Language Stuff

Ad infinitum. Que pasa. Soupe du jour.

These phrases originated as Latin, Spanish and French. They are part of the average Joe’s normal everyday vocabulary. Yanno – the average Joe speaking English. The language that “everyone” here should speak according to some.

hint: We don’t actually speak English here in the USA – we speak a patois – a bastardized version of the language of the country we fought and defeated in the Revolutionary War.

Los Angeles. (“the angels” in Spanish)
New Mexico. (named after… you know that really large country south of us – we just don’t want actual Mexicans living there )
Des Moines. (“monks” in French)

Those ‘English only’ proponants need to consider the renaming of many quite large and highly populated metro areas since they wish to abolish the use of other languages in “America” (the misnomer they call the US when sounding extra patriotic [cue background music] although North America includes other countries that we don’t count when normally saying ‘America’ because we’re overly U.S.-centric and basically ignorant as a people).

If the “English only” proponants are serious then there’s a lot of work ahead of them. We need to correct our spelling in dictionaries and encyclopedias. Colour, for example is the English way to spell the word we spell as color. Better get rid of the foreign phrases we use everyday and we’d better rename all the states and capitals of non-British origin. California can become Cornwall. Arizona can become Ascot.

Makes as much sense to me as an “English only” does to be served in a cheesesteak restaurant in Philadelphia.

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17 Comments

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17 responses to “Language Stuff

  1. Rev. Smokin Steve

    Que sera sera!

  2. proudmary

    excellent use of the word “patois”!

  3. Buffy

    Nicely said.

  4. Los

    I think it is great to know another language – heck, I know German as well as English. I just think that if you live in this country, you should probably have at least a working knowledge of English – it could help you career-wise.

  5. Stefanie

    God you are so right. But our hate goes so much beyond that. If we “send all the Mexicans back to their own country” what kind of America Land of the Free are we? Who will do all the jobs that the “lazy Mexicans” have been slaving away at for us for all these years. And I love the fact that Bush is claiming lieniency for the Mexican people because “some of them have worked for me.” The hypocricy of this country makes me ill.

  6. heartinsanfrancisco

    If I lived in another country, I would want to learn the language so that I could fully participate in the culture. But banishing all evidence of our multi-national ancestry would be absurd. And as you suggest, what would we replace them with since so many of “our” words are borrowed?

    Have you noticed how many of our place names are really Native American, commemorating a civilization we did everything possible to annihilate?

  7. keith

    Everyone who lives in America should at least be learning to speak English. It is what unites us. English should not be the “only” language spoken here but it should be the primary national language. It is important to keep with your heritage but also it is important to be a part of the country you live in. Most of our ansestors came from other countries and our diversity through unity makes us strong. They knew it was important to learn English to be a productive member of american society. We should not make “English-only” establishments but we should encourage people to learn the English language. Not learning a common language breeds division. Look at Canada’s issues between English and French and the tensions it causes with parts of Canada wanting to separate; division caused by not having a common language.

    Communication is the key to success, just ask anyone who has been married (or divorced). That is why we must be able to communicate with a common language…

  8. Superstar

    I am told that in Europe that all the kids learn more than one language. Why are we Americans so special That we do not learn other languages? Well, We are pretentious jerks. While I have lived in Mexico and I learned to speak Spanish…I am sure I made a few mistakes. I beleive that Americans should learn to speak more than English But I also firmly beleive that if you are going to live where English is the 1st language you had better learn it to get along…

    English is a combination of many languages, German and latin mostly..

    I really don’t want to live in the state of Ascot…sounds way too fruity for me… LOL.

  9. SunKingpoet

    Jali,

    This is exactly why I want you on that other site. Amazing post.

  10. jali

    Steve,
    Now that song is stuck in my (not quite as big as some) head. Thanks.

    ProudMary,
    Merci!

    Buffy,
    Thank you – I appreciate the encouragement.

    Los,
    Gershundheit.

    Stephanie,
    It kills me too!

    Hearts,
    If we really went back to language roots on this continent we would be speaking something entirely different.

    Keith,
    Haven’t statistics shown that most recent immigrants really are trying to learn English?

    Superstar,
    So many other countries require proficiancy in English as well as other tongues. We are way behind most of the world in language skills.

    SKP,
    I joined OM – thank you for the kind words sweetie!

  11. Jennifer

    My son’s boyfriend is a native of Costa Rica, and speaks better English than he does. This summer, as a rising high school senior, she is spending three months in France – paid for with money she worked two jobs to earn – in a language immersion program. She will be trilingual before her 18th birthday. My admiration for her determined nature to be a global citizen knows no bounds.

    I wish I’d taken Latin in school when I had the chance, myself. Six years of Spanish, and the most complex conversational bit I remember is “Donde esta la biblioteca?” Handy, that.

    Followed you here from a comment you’d left on Liz’s site. Glad I did.

  12. lynnie

    Here in CA we actually had a chance to vote for bilingual teaching at the pre-school and kindergarten levels a few elections ago and VOTED IT DOWN. It seems we did not want to have our younger children learn in English and Spanish at the same time. We wanted to wait until they were in High School — when they are REALLY open to learning — and then FORCE them to take a language for 2 years in order to graduate???

    And I will NOT EVEN get into the Exit Exam situation out here…..

  13. jali

    Jennifer,

    Wow! I’d like to be like your son’s friend – that’s amazing
    Thanks for the visit – I’m coming to your house soon.

  14. Sally

    So nice to see someone with good sense blogging from Atlanta. 🙂

  15. Miss Ann Thrope

    I believe that people should at least try to make a stab at being understood in a country predominantly basterdised English speaking. I’ve kind of had it with trying to guess what the Latino chick behind the cash register is trying to tell me. I know about 7 Spanish words…all of them are curse words. ~ahem~

    I’m from Canada so I spell colour and I use ‘s’ where US born people use ‘z.’

    The thing is, it only seems like Latino people refuse to even try (around here anyway.) We have a lot of immigrants from Ghana, they speak English or try very hard too. I can understand them anyway…but I spend a lot of time around them because one of my best friends is from their. Her 5 year old son talks to me in both languages and he’s teaching me to “talk right.” Too freaking cute.

    We also have lots of immigrants from the Ukraine. They do pretty well with English also.

    When i was in France, Italy and Finland, I carried around books and said stupid stuff like I want to know where the nearest water buffalo is. (No really, I did.) But I tried…because THEY don’t try. They expect people to speak their language.

    Hell, at Charles de Gaulle airport, I followed a sign to the gate I needed to be at. When I got there, 10 miles later, the sign there had an arrow point back to where I had been. AND that sign was in English. Gah! I think they like to point and laugh at Americans though.

    Anyway, I just wish they would try to communicate on an understandable level. Would make it easier on both of us.

    It’s a blessing kids are being taught languages in school. Now that is a step in the right direction.

  16. Miss Ann Thrope

    there even.

  17. jali

    I excell at saying stupid stuff in English for the amusement of strangers. I’d love to be able to do it in other languages as well.

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