Sunday, September 05, 2010

Creeping Bilingualism

During the last election, I noticed that at the Republican town halls, people complained constantly about immigration. But what they complained most about wasn’t the possibility of lost jobs, or crime. It was that when they called their bank, a recorded message told them to press 2 for Spanish.

Gail Brooks is onto something--though I'm not sure she realizes it. Bilingualism can become very divisive--just look at Canada. Rightly or wrongly, I think a lot of "average Joe" Americans do resent the creeping intrusion of Spanish. Some of us elites might respond "You know, it is a really good thing, both practically and intellectually, to learn a second (or even third) language" (that is definitely my viewpoint, in principle). But that argument is just not going to resonate with 90% of the population. By-and-large, Americans have never been very interested in learning foreign languages (not necessarily a laudable quality, but a fact), and I don't think feeling they are now being "forced" to learn them, in order to do business in their own country, will change things.

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