I used to live in France, a country that is a bastion of liberal politics. While leaving there, I learned that the government prohibits the percentage of foreign language programming on any TV or radio network. In addition there is something called the Toubon Law, which states that all documents produced by the government must be in French. I never thought of it as discriminatory, just a smart piece of legislation that insured foreigners were integrated and not living in the "shadows", forced to take black market jobs etc.
In the US, it seems Spanish is likely to become the dominant language in the next 50 years. I was recently in Miami and I was scolded by a waiter for not ordering in Spanish. I also noticed that Spanish speakers were served first at the markets and stores. I truly sensed a "Us and Them" environment. It was the total antithesis to the founding ideals of the US that I learned about in school as one nation operating as a melting pot. It seemed like Hispanics for Hispanics with a resentment towards any suggestion they learn English.
Do you think the US has an effective assimilation policy?
Well, Spanish is a native language for much of the territory now part of the US. So maybe speaking Spanish *is* assimilating. A Hispanic-heritage majority for the population is certainly foreseeable and I can't say that I see that as a problem.
I think that immigrants are usually pretty well integrated within a few years with a few exceptions.
When immigrants congregate in large groups they tend not to integrate well. The large Chinese and Latin communities show this pretty well. A small community of immigrants (we have a fair sized Basque group near me) do much better while giving a sense of community at the same time.
The other major exception are those that enter the country illegally with no expectation of immigrating at all. These people typically bring the own culture with them, don't want to and won't become a part of America. As they are on the wrong side of the law as well as very poor they tend to congregate in large communities on the "wrong side of the tracks" which also hurts.
Many are not at all, and idiotic policies are graduating people in multiple languages that speak no English at all.
The results of this lack of assimilation are not dissimilar to some problems France has had in some of it's ghettos surrounding Paris.
How quickly the streets of France burning and its root causes seem to have been forgotten by much o the world.
Large North African populations who were so segregated from the rest of society that they share neither race no religion nor even language with any of their neighbors.
Disenfranchised youths who lack ANY of the necessary attributes of employability or assimilation into their community... who end up surrounded by a country that becomes increasingly foreign to them as they are marginalized further and further.
Miami is already a mess. I went into a McDonalds and couldn't find anyone who spoke English. The scary thing is I have a few Hispanic friends who have told me that they won't ALLOW their kids to speak any English in the house. They actually think they're doing them favor.
I can't imagine moving to France and having that level of disregard for my new home and it's people and culture. I can't imagine being that arrogant or that disconnected from my community, frankly.
And the more we push for non-english only diplomas and such, the worse it becomes.
Taking a step back from all the usual dogma, there's some common sense at work here.
Without language as a basic pillar of commonality, it is INEVITABLE that a host of problems will occur. That's just life no matter how you spin it. It's universally true no matter what language or country is being discussed.
I think the US should say, we are giving out 500,000 green cards this year. Those with a PhD, specialized skills, are English speaking and have no criminal history go the head of the line. It sends a message that the US cherishes immigration and encourage it, while insuring the country gets people who can contribute versus be a drain on the country. This would motivate people to study harder, learn English, etc. It would be good for everybody
I am an immigrant, English speaker with PhD currently applying for a Greencard, and yet I disagree with this.
The US has a pressing need for hard working manual laborers. if they had to choose between what they need more, executives or fruit picker--the answer is probably the latter.
The US imports people according to its needs, not abstract virtues.
I also think plenty of American are and have always been Hispanic. Maybe American needs to be bilingual.
Yes, America needs fruit pickers. Which we can provide in the form of young people starting out in life and those between jobs. What we don't need are fruit pickers that need govt. subsidies to survive and that will be fruit pickers the rest of their lives.
In addition, these fruit picking immigrants are those that primarily refuse to assimilate. Most are not immigrants at all but temporary labor that brings their country with them and are not interested in becoming American.
American does NOT need to be bilingual. As Greg stated, language is the first thing that promotes continuity, community and belonging. Any and every immigrant unwilling to learn the language of their new home need not come.
Is that a 100% true or just the lowest paid fruit picker?
Some people have trouble absorbing language. I took Spanish for five years. Didnt really absorb it. Friends of mine who dont speak English very well usually talk to me in Spanish and I respond in English. We understand each other pretty well. As far as assimilation is concerned, it's relative to the person. And people tend to cling to that which is familiar especially when they are in a setting that is unfamiliar. I agree that much more effort can be and should be made on the part of the individual and states, but human nature is stubborn at times and old habits are hard to break.
An hour after arriving in Montreal, I was panhandled in French. I knew what he was asking for but played ignorant bcos the answer was 'no', anyway.
You are 10,000% correct, TV
And... they DO say that.
They just don't enforce it.
I'm amazed at what some of my friends have gone through to prove themselves worthy of citizenship over decades.
They are the biggest believers I've ever come across of all the ideals I spelled out earlier... and you better believe they vote... and are acutely aware of who and what they're voting for.
We are about to give out 18 + million citizenship slots in one shot. Why wait in line, just sneak in an wait around... eventually some politician will give you amnesty. And once we do it again and again... then there might as well be no borders.
As far as needing manual laborers... there are plenty here that would do that work. But since the wage system is far undercut in alot of agricultural fields... those who do it get screwed.
America needs to close its borders for about 25 years and assimilate those already here... and then we can consider opening back up to immigration.
We need to straighten out our own house, or we will not have one soon.
There is no such thing as a true American. All our ancestors came from some other country.
I saw in one data from US Population Projection, by 2050 it said that one out of three people who reside here in the US would be of Hispanic origin
In terms of language assimilation, the US is very accommodating, in all public forms, announcements (education, census forms etc.) it has a translation in Spanish at the back. Even when you call toll numbers.
The US immigration policy is not as lenient as other developed countries.
Um, why are people repeatedly suggesting Hispanic implies immigrant? Hispanic people have been in America longer than those of European descent. Plenty of Hispanics, English speaking or not, are multi-generation American even from the founding of the nation. It was the English speakers who refused to "assimilate".
The 'English only' message is not about respecting native culture, it is about might=right. English speakers are now the majority in power and can refuse to allow other languages to be used in an official capacity (even first nation languages).
If might is right, Spanish might end up being mightier--and turn about is fair play.
In looking at America over its history, its success can be attributed to a influx of immigrants who rallied around a common language. Can you imagine what would have happened if all the immigrants kept to themselves and neglected to learn a common language, you would have a "Tower of Babel". There is not a single European country that caters to non-native speakers like the US does and I believe its ultimately hurting America.
With record unemployment, there are lots of people willing to work the farms etc. In actuality, they don't save the country or taxpayers any money because when the visit a hospital with no insurance, send their kids to school, require extra forms in Spanish, etc it all gets picked up pay the American taxpayer. The only person who wins is the company that hires non citizens or illegals.
Uh, I think you might find the UK do. As a taxi driver we had to carry a sign in about 15 different languages saying "Welcome to..."
More tellingly, forms for claiming DSS money (dole) are written in several different languages, and the tax payer will pay for an interpretor for non-English speakers.
Same for those requiring health care.
I don't know if you got the Memo, Psyche, but Spain relinquished all rights to America long ago... then Mexico did the same for the South-West.
Were there Spanish here... of course, they slaughtered the ones before them and took what they had... remember?
None of us made it to where we are by playing nice... so we can all drop the innocent victim routines.
What on earth has Spain got to do with it? The "Spanish" language we are speaking of is spoken by "Hispanic" (not just "Spanish") people. And many of these people are and always have been American.
By your argument Americans should have stopped speaking English after leaving the Empire and started speaking, well, Spanish so as to assimilate with the local population at that time. But actually, the language belongs to the people and the place, not the governing power.
Spanish belongs to the people and the place in some parts of the US, and has an older and more entrenched claim than the English language you are suggesting is the one true American language.
At the risk of showing my own ignorance, and sorry but world history was never my strong point, I thought that Spain had a huge empire at one time.
Didn't Christopher Columbus discover "The New World" - The Americas -and didn't the Spanish conquerers introduce the Spanish language to the natives?
Being that we have no official language, we remain a multi-lingual nation. Imagine a couple centuries ago, language barriers werent all that different. German, French, Dutch, English. And subcultures that arrived from foreign lands all had their own way of both assimilating and non-assimilating. I realize the issues of population an the concerns of sustainability, and we could have done something abt that in the 90s by using NAFTA to raise Mexico's standard of living in relation to the US and Canada, but the reverse was done instead.
The solutions either side seems to want to entertain are simplistic at best.
Assimilation is a flawed term...
There is no such thing as a one-sided dumping of identity in society...
Cross-fertilization takes place.... Spanish has always been a dominant language in the United States, especially in the territories originally held by Spain and Mexico...
Our major trading partners and biggest, most numerous neighbors are Spanish speaking... It makes sense to invest in this permanent relationship through learning how to communicate with one another on equal terms.....Not "English" standing over the rest...which is nonsensical...
The tw0 way flow of ideas and information has left its mark in language, culture, and identity...
There are those out there who deride the idea of learning in multiple languages...especially in publicly funded schools...and this is flat out wrong...
Rather, I see that there are some out there who don't value learning very much and who prefer their own biased viewpoint over using their minds to gain skills...
They demand others bend over backwards to appease their wishes while making sure to minimize their need to do anything to reciprocate...
And they are the ones who lose out in the end...
I firmly believe that, starting at the earliest ages, kids should be taught to understand multiple languages....and they have the capability to do so...
Those who oppose this thinking are too busy living in the flawed, outdated past...and they are holding back our larger ability to come together as a global society...
If one can't keep up with the pace of our changing world, then that is on them....seek help...
Cognitively there is a huge advantage to raising children to be multi-lingual.
There's a man I'm thinking of who's name escapes me right now.. He emigrated from Europe in the 19th century... He spoke no English, but he learned Spanish while traveling west...
With only Spanish, he rose to becone a major industrialist and businessman.... I am looking fervently for his name...for when it is read it becomes instantly recongnizable....but, alas, I cannot put my fingers on his identity....
What language one speaks stands second to who they are and what they desire to accomplish... Language barriers can be overcome...as long as intelligent, thoughtful, and patient people prevail...
Those who harbor superiority complexes over their native language are the problem that has to be transcended.... There's too many lazy, self-centered people out there...
And the tax forms will be as well... And why not?
For all the "evolved intelligence" of society compared to the primitive past, there are few accomplishments that I see greater than the development of cuneiform... Having a single written language that anyone can read, regardless of spoken language, is simply brilliant.... The Cherokee nation had something similar...
Assimilation (in terms of one-way transmission/absorption of socio-economic/political identity) is a false notion in terms of the development of the "American"...
To begin with it assumes falsely that the "dominant" population was homogeneous....which the European colonized eastern seaboard was not...
When the first English arrived and created Jamestown they were males... They had very little to no clue what they were doing... Not only did they have to take on the ways that the Native peoples showed them, but many of the most "American" things have been bought, borrowed and stolen from the original Americans..
From the Army Rangers to American Sign Language....not to leave out the generations of Americans who's lineage (beginning with the original colonists) is traced back to Native Americans...
Where is the equivalent to "Davy Crocket" or "Daniel Boone" in European lore?
Where would these mythological themes come from without reverse-assimilation (using the word the way Mason and his ilk do)?
These types keep themselves blinded to their own diluted and culturually-intermixed identity as "pure" and then work to deny others theire natural right to be who they are...
As long as taxes are paid, the legal and political processes are understood and exercised appropriately I see no role for government in regulating spoken or written language...
Some will say that the cost of creating materials in different languages is great, and they might point to court room matters, for example, and look at the problems that can be encountered when a party in a hearing or trial cannot speak or understand English...
But, if our educational system was better utilized, in this case towards an emphasis and seriousness towards multi-lingual training in K-12 education these aforementioned issues cease hold any weight...although I do not give them much credence anyway..
With this said, I have found an attitude amongst many Christians I have known (this isn't to slight Christians who don't think this way) have a deep down antagonism to bringing people together... The tale of the Tower of Babel creates the delusion that we are supposed to remain separate...its part of "God's will"... Then again...a part of Americana identity lies in the comparison of the freed colonials and frontier "pioneers" to the Israelites leaving Egypt.. Genocide was just "fulfillment of God's covenant with Abraham"...
That's all... No biggie, right? It's God calling the shots so it's all good....smoothed over? (Pavemented, suburbaned, and educated over it)
I am sure somewhere deep within the attic of American identity there is the justification that, at least (if one believes that the Hebrews truly carried out the acts described in the Tradition) places were set aside for the contemporary "Canaanites"...
What kind of place would this be if everyone spoke the same language and shared the same culture? The United States is too big and too vast for there to be just one language. Language shouldn't be an assimilating factor, our laws should be.
I've traveled all over this country and there have been places where I couldn't understand a word spoken by 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation Americans. Ever listen to a Pennsylvania Dutch? How about a Cajun or Creole? And just about every large city has its own Chinatown, we have a great one here in Chicago.
I say, as long as immigrants come here, follow the law, pay their taxes, spend most of their money here, enjoy the fruits of their labor, then the more the merrier.
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