Monday, September 01, 2008

Si, Hablo Espaniol?

I am certain that I butchered the spelling and punctuation of the now-ubiquitous disclaimer found on most government written matter. So it was with the Anne Arundel County Public Schools annual letter from the Superintendent welcoming its little liberal\union indoctrinees back to camp. One side of the letter was written in the familiar English while the other side contained its Spanish translation.

I didn't read either version. If I had I'm sure I would be writing about the union propaganda and politically-correct tripe that I am sure the waste of paper contained. The prospect of boring you with yet another gripe about our public school system led to me to ask myself, out loud, some questions about the bilingual bilge water that you and I paid to have written and mailed to us (I assure you, my wife regrets having brought the thing to my attention):

1. What about Arabic or Chinese translations? Does it mean that only the Spanish-speaking minority in this country is apparently incapable of learning the language of their adopted homeland? Apparently the AACPS expects immigrants from other countries to be capable of learning English. If I were Hispanic, I would be insulted that the government thinks so little of me, as an adult parent of school-age children, as to consider me illiterate in English.
2. Where are the immigrant lobbyists and pressure groups for the Korean, Dutch and Russian folks who, after waiting for years for an immigration visa, finally arrive in time to receive important communication from the Superintendent? I guess, since they had to wait so long, they were expected to learn English well enough to recognize union propaganda and politically-correct tripe when they see it.

It continues to amaze me that liberals don't get the nuances involved here. Is this not the "soft bigotry of low expectations" that George Bush described back in 2000?


OM said...

As a liberal, I have to notice that sometimes politically correct is just an excuse for racist. But I'll give you this one. It does seem a bit random. Most of the time, a Spanish translations is used by businesses and is just a proof of good business sense, but it does seem to also appear in random places.

On the third hand, and why not use our third hand, I don't know if it's the biggest problem in this country.

And finally, nothing justifies quoting Bush.

Mike Netherland said...

On the contrary, I think people with a third or fourth hand represent a national security risk.

Why is a Spanish translation proof of good business sense? See you have to 'splain these things to me.

But you are EXACTLY correct in that it is the racist who is hiding behind the politically correct. And the morons, and the pretentious, the disingenuous,

OM said...

Oops, Freudian slip. I meant the criticism against politically correct speech sometimes masks racism. I don't mean you specifically, of course. Sometimes it's blatant racism/sexism that is excused by saying it's simply anti-political-correctness.

And as for the business sense, it's just about getting more customers. I think both sides can agree on two things:

That private businesses have the right to make more money by appealing to anyone they want in whatever language they want.

And that because millions of people in this country either don't speak English or are more comfortable in Spanish, matters of emergency and life or death should be available in Spanish.

A letter from a school really doesn't fit there, so I understand your argument.

Mike Netherland said...

How dare you, sir or madame, stay up so late commenting on my blog with such civility and clarity!

So I may be masking my racism by criticizing the PC? Hmmmm.

I agree completely that private business should be fettered only by the boundaries of good taste when promoting their wares.

Again with the Spanish only translation? What about the poor Palestinian? I guess they should be left to fend for themselves. No Arabic translation.

Again, it seems as though you are only concerned that the illegal immigrants are catered to because there are millions of them.

So we should encourage more illegal immigration by making it comfortable for them? But don't you see? You are not helping them by keeping them illiterate in English.

So let's debate: The points are:
1. Liberals are discriminating against aother ethinc groups in providing foreign language translations; and
2. Liberals are keeping immigrants down socially and economically by not forcing them to become literate in English.

Elizabeth said...

They have translations for several languages for different publications from the county public schools, including Arabic, Chinese, English, Urdu, Korean, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese. The top 5 non-english languages in Maryland are Spanish, French, Chinese, Korean, and Vietnamese.

Mike Netherland said...

Um ok. Was the superintendent's letter translated in Urdu, for the residents of...the place where people speak Urdu? NO!

But let's stick to the debate, shall we?

Thanks for the comment!

OM said...

Well, it's all about the number of people who will be influenced by the inability to read. And speaking of the poor Palestinian, in Israel, road signs are in Hebrew, English, and Arabic. Now, after a large immigration from Russia, more signs are also in Russian. Fortunately, people in Israel have bigger problems to deal with so no one cares.

And about the PC argument, again, I'm not saying anything about you, but only about things I saw elsewhere.

Translations don't encourage illegal immigration. A federal policy that targets immigrants (only when caught crossing the border or later when they're already established here with families) rather than targeting employers does. I think there's a slim chance we can even agree on that last point.

And Wikipedia says, "Hindi/Urdu is the fourth most spoken language in the world, with 4.7 percent of the world's population, after Mandarin, English, and Spanish." But they probably don't need a translation because people in India don't see speaking a second language as something offensive.

Mike Netherland said...

I'm glad to see you recognize the difference between the United States and other countries. As a boy I lived in Europe for many years and noticed how the people from those Alpine countries spoke many languages. I don't remember seeing translations of road signs (most of them being pictographs)and it didn't seem to be good for business to have printed matter in French, German and Italian. If you were in italy your business was conducted in either English (for us ignorant American tourists) or Italian.

In the interiors of Italy France and Germany, meanwhile, there was no effort to maintain printed matter in anything but the mother tongue.

So it should be in America. Along the southern border I expect that the folks their speak Spanish and English. They may even allocate some of the peoples' money to pay for translations of certain vital documents (like letters from the school superintendent).

But I don't see it as a priority in Maryland or Kansas or even in Dallas just because billions of Indians and Chinese speak their mother tongues!

What offends me is that government at every level in this country are wasting taxes on these translations. There is no public safety or national security reason for it, and it does not promote assimilation and the concomitant progress socially and economically that such assimilation provides.

You want to keep illiegal immigrants "in the shadows"? Then keep stuffing the Spanish translations under the door.

OM said...

I can't think of a counter argument. Rather than let the divided nation fight among ourselves on yet another issue, the government (federal or local) should come up with specific guidelines on what warrants an automatic translation to a common second language, depending on local population, and what is indeed a waste, like your example.

Mike Netherland said...

Ah, you are indeed a commenter of rare quality. And I agree that we should set criteria for conducting government in different languages. I offer mine:

1. Public Health and Safety emergencies (impending death and destruction by hurricane, pandemic disease, comet\asteroid impact, Democratic Party activism, etc.)
2. National Security

Basta', as the Italians would say.