Sunday, March 4, 2012

Freedom of Language

         I was eating at a sandwich shop today and couldn't help but overhear a middle aged hispanic woman ordering at the counter, in Spanish.  The young girl who waited on her also spoke spanish.  You want to know something? I wasn't the least bit offended or annoyed.  "Why?"  You may ask?  It had nothing to do with me and did not interfere with my life in any way.  I've heard arguments such as "This is America, speak American or English."  Why?  If they aren't talking to you it shouldn't matter.  If they are talking to you and you don't understand, that's fine too.  Just tell them you don't understand.  If they don't understand you telling them you don't understand then it becomes their problem and not yours.  Simply walk away and life resumes as normal.  Freedom of speech means you can say anything you want in any language.  Of course that means you are also free to criticize for people not learning the language.   Before you judge however, maybe they are taking night classes to learn this bizarre language with way too many rules and exceptions to rules. 
      English is one of the hardest languages to learn to a non English speaker.  I am in fact impressed if someone says something in English even if it is under a heavy thick accent and they seem to be struggling.  That's further than I got in Spanish.  I tried taking a shortcut by learning only words and phrases that I might actually use if I visited Spain.  Such as?  "Where can I find food? ( ¿Dónde puedo encontrar comida?) Where is the bathroom? (¿Dónde esta el bano?) Where can I find a decently priced prostitute?"  ( ¿Dónde puedo encontrar una prostituta barata?)
      "But,"  I hear people screaming at their computer monitor. (I can't hear you.)  "They took our jobs!"
No, they didn't.  It's not like some guy walked into fast food joint, pointed a gun and some pimple faced teenager and demanded his job.  (At least no one ever called me back when I tried that.)  No one 'took' the jobs.  The jobs were 'given' to someone.  Usually it's the person who is either qualified to do that job and/or at least be able to work with a flexible schedule. 
     This is just my opinion and you don't have to agree with it.  If you don't, please post your argument in the comments.  I just happen to think it's a waste of time and energy to put someone down for not speaking English.  I'm sure if I went to a foreign country not knowing the local language they would still be happy to smile at me and take my five dollars for a cup of burnt coffee. 

1 comment:

  1. oooh, serious topic! I agree that if people want to speak their native language to eachother in public, that is fine. But if they expect me to understand, yeah, thats their problem. If they CAN speak English, I would expect them to speak it when necessary. English IS really hard to learn. I'm trying to teach 2nd graders about nouns, verbs, and adjectives, and oh my goodness there are so many fine details to it! I didn't realize it could be so complicated! I officially hate grammar now.


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