People are getting into trouble for speaking Spanish these days.
At a hotel in New Mexico (of all places) the owner, Larry Whitten, ordered his employees to stop speaking Spanish and to Anglicize their names. And the owner fired some employees who refused to conform to his rules, according to an Associated Press story.
And in Dallas, a police officer recently issued a ticket to a woman for being a "non-English speaking driver." Officer Gary Bromley stopped Ernestina Mondragon after she allegedly made a u-turn in a school zone, according to a story by CBS 11 / TXA 21. Then he gave her a ticket for not speaking English.
Are they crazy?
Now I think we all should speak at least two languages or more. You can make more money and have better career opportunities if you speak more than one language.
But we shouldn't punish people who are monolingual. That includes people who speak only Spanish or only English.
I agree that it would benefit all immigrants to learn English but it isn't always possible to learn a second language. It depends on your education level and on your memory. Most studies show it's much easier to learn a language when you are younger.
It makes no sense to enforce English-only rules in New Mexico with its rich indigenous, Spanish and Mexican history. And unless there is a legitimate business reason to do so such actions could be illegal.
If we were to follow the hotel owner's logic then we should change all the foreign words we use in English.
What if Santa Fe became Saint Faith or Los Angeles became The Angels?
We could go on translating all words into English commonly used in the United States that come from Spanish, French, Italian or other languages.
Would it make sense to say with gratings instead of au gratin or French loaf instead of baguette? Baguette just has a nicer ring to it.
"My real name is Ricardo Leon Sanchez de Reinaldo. I don't use it because I want to be respectful of this wonderful country that allowed us as Hispanics to come here, and I think it's easier if someone's able to understand me by Anglicizing my name," Sanchez said.
Sanchez should go to New Mexico and ask people about his notion of thanking "this wonderful country that allowed us as Hispanics to come here." In New Mexico, Hispanics were there before the Anglos and the Native Americans were there first.
Now I'm not going to tell Sanchez how to pronounce his name. That's his prerogative. But he and the hotel owner have no right to tell me how to pronounce mine.
I don't pronounce it TER-EE-SA but prefer to roll the R's so it sounds like TER-RE-SA.
That's my choice and in this country no hotel owner or police officer should punish people who speak Spanish.
A court had the sense to dismiss the ticket against Mondragon for not speaking English.
Hopefully people like Whitten also will start to use some common sense.