If you're going to support English-only laws, you should know one thing.
A friend of mine recently sent me this link to Dribbleglass with these photos and more of English-only advocates and anti-immigrant demonstrators.
Check out all the spelling errors.
I can't decide if this is funny or scary.
One thing is certain. Language and how well immigrants do or don't speak English generates a lot of debate. This week I wrote a blog post "What's wrong with speaking Spanish?" about a New Mexico hotel owner, Larry Whitten, who told his employees to stop speaking Spanish and to Anglicize their names. I also wrote about a Dallas police officer who stopped a woman for making an illegal U-turn and then gave her a ticket because she didn't speak English.
It generated a lot of comments on this blog and I appreciate this vigorous discussion.
John Sheehan wrote:
Here's a thought: I don't care what language you speak. I simply want to be understood and to understand you. I'm willing, able and competent to do what I can on my end to fulfill my two needs in this respect. If I want to be understood by people who speak another language than my own, or to understand them in return, I must either learn that language or employ a translator. That's the basic truth of the situation.
Kat, a commenter who didn't give a last name, wrote:
When my grandfather came here from Italy no one taught him English. If you didn't know the language too bad. They should speak English in American society. If they want to speak Spanish speak it at home. I think it's ignorant not to speak the language where you live. If I move to Mexico are they going to change everything for me in English? No. If they don't like to speak English then go back where you came from.
It would be nice if people like Kat would have the courage to make such statements using her full name. That would take cojones as we say in Spanish. I won't translate that.
But Kat let me tell you that I met plenty of Americans living as expats in Mexico who didn't speak Spanish. I also had a British colleague at the university where I taught in Mexico. She had a doctorate, lived in Mexico for years and never learned Spanish.
But I would never suggest she go back to where she came from.
As I said in my original post it would benefit all immigrants in the United States to learn English. But we shouldn't punish them if they don't.
According to the Pew Hispanic Center, college education is closely linked to the ability to speak and read English. Among Hispanic immigrants with college degrees, 62% reported they can speak English very well. That share drops to 34% among those with high school diplomas and 11% among those who did not complete high school, according to their report.
Of adult first-generation Latinos, just 23% reported they can hold a conversation in English very well. That number rises to 88% among the second generation of adults and to 94% among the third and higher generations, according to Pew Hispanic.
So English-only advocates should rest tranquilo. Don't worry.
Hablamos inglés y español.