Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Spanish in the USA

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Category: Life

I just wanted to say a few things about the 'invasion' of the Spanish language in the United States. Just like every wave of non-English speaking immigrants into this country, the people that have come here will not all learn English. Almost all of those that don't will feel badly about it, but some of them are not so young, and it's hard to learn a language later in life. Guess what percentage of their children that go through the US school system will learn English? If anyone has any other numbers than 100 %, I'd like to hear their reasoning. English is not in danger. It has never been more spoken, by number of speakers, or by percentage of the world population that speak it. If every Mexican in Mexico came to the United States, leaving that country with no people left, English would still be the most spoken language in the US. It's not a loss of the English language that we should fear. Across the world, there are somewhere around 6,000 languages. This number is much smaller than the number of languages several hundred years ago. In another 50 years or so, there will be around 3,000 living languages left in the world. Here in the United States, there are around a dozen to two dozen (I think) languages of native peoples that have not been taught to the children for years. These languages will die with the elders of these groups.

My experience with the children of native Spanish speakers here in the USA is that the children learn and speak English, and understand but often speak very little Spanish. Many of those that I have met are ashamed of their heritage, because they see the stereotypes as they grow up. They are not a rising and dominant generation wanting to force the Spanish language on others. While native Spanish speakers will always speak to me in Spanish whenever I speak to them in Spanish, their children will reply to my Spanish with English.

My children are being raised bilingual. Islena and I speak almost all Spanish to our kids, and already they speak mostly English to us. She is sad to think that they probably won't teach Spanish to their children. It is natural for them to speak English to us, although we speak Spanish to them. Nearly everyone they know understands English, and nearly everyone but us speaks to them in English. My family, TV, local friends, in church, on the street, and in school. It's all English. To raise them bilingual we have to do all Spanish all the time, and we will have to spend some summers in Colombia.

I just want to say, to those that are afraid that our English language is in crisis, that there is no reason to fear. There are others, who were raised in other languages, that will sadly not teach these languages to their children. These are the languages that are in crisis.

I also think that the people that tell us to be afraid for our language in this country, for the most part, are doing it for other reasons. Some are racists, and want us to hate others, or at least to fear them. Some just want this fear to be another reason to support discriminatory policies. Just like the KKK uses incorrect arguments against African Americans, some others use language as an argument against Latinos.

OK. Rant over.

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