I’m Not Getting My Ass Shot Off Because You Don’t Habla

Elaborating on the crack den:

The fact is that “immigrants not learning English” is only a problem for people who are offended by the stray sounds of Spanish. The children of immigrants do learn English. There just is no identifiable “problem” here. Sure older immigrants may not become fluent in The President’s English, but who cares?

The “problem” people usually cite is the use of “their tax dollars” to produce forms and signs and such in government offices that translate the rules of the road and other such info into Spanish. Which would be funny if it wasn’t vaguely sick that what people are bascially saying is that if you don’t speak English as an immigrant here, we’d like to keep you ignorant of our laws and regulations so that when you break them, we can deport your ass.

It’s crap, basically, as they never consider the benefit of people who don’t immediately have access to ESL courses and/or language lessons being able to communicate and function in American society. If somebody comes here, can get around, participate in government (for which they pay their taxes too, so shut up about your tax dollars) and generally be good citizens, that benefits me, as it benefits me when anyone can prosper. Less alienation makes the whole society better, so if you want to be completely selfish about it, you’re better off shelling out the $20 or so it takes to run off some stationery in Espanol than you would be if you continue to act like a crabby old miser.

Though for the life of me I’ll never understand why hearing somebody speak another language makes you automatically assume the person doesn’t speak your own. I shop at a strip mall in a “changing” neighborhood a lot, and the muttering of the tight-permed be-housecoated longtime residents who sometimes frequent it about the language of “those people” never fails to make me want to hit something. Just because she’s talking to her kid in her native language doesn’t mean the nice lady in line ahead of you doesn’t understand what a bitch you’re being, Marge. Unlike you, she’s just too polite to mention it to your face.


9 thoughts on “I’m Not Getting My Ass Shot Off Because You Don’t Habla

  1. The problem we don’t like to bring up is that in most of the world people learn a language other than their own. Here, of course, we can’t be bothered. People didn’t begin to speak Spanish in Mexico, our close neighbor, just last week. We have had an intermixing of our population for many, many years, so we really should all have learned Spanish in school. To my regret I didn’t.

  2. we have an odd story here in milw. a man took a deceased cousin’s identity, so he could have citizenship TO BECOME A COP. it was discovered andnow he is going to do time and after deported. his crime being a mexican and desiring to be american. his brother is a citizen, so he is still a cop. fucking stupid.

  3. The problem we don’t like to bring up is that in most of the world people learn a language other than their own.
    Hoppy, ain’t that the truth? I tried. I studied Spanish, French, and Italian, but I never had the opportunity to become fluent in any of the languages, because I never really spoke them for lengthy periods of time. I am grateful for the little I do know of them.

  4. I don’t get it either, because I think it’s great that we’re becoming bilingual. Isn’t that really democracy? I think so. More voices get heard, and if more people can understand what they are saying, the better off we are.
    Since when is the United States an exclusive damn gated community?

  5. What I’d like to know is, if you come from a(nother) monolingual country where if you have the opportunity to learn English at all before you emigrate (which usually means taking classes from non-native English speakers and not really having the opportunity to speak it a lot), how are you supposed to become fluent in English before you arrive in the US?
    Also, just because you don’t feel comfortable enough in your English skills to handle government forms or complex documents doesn’t mean you “don’t speak English,” either. A lot of people have a paperwork phobia in their native language (me, I have what I call “bureaucratic dyslexia” — I look at official forms and lose the ability to read), let alone trying to handle a task of complex, multidimensional literacy like filling out governmental forms in a language that’s not your primary language. A lot of people may also be able to perform certain tasks in English and not others, simply because they don’t have the confidence. There’s a hell of a lot more going on there than just “not speaking English.”
    I can say this with a certain degree of acumen, because I’m Canadian, grew up reading “ce document est disponible aussi en francais” on all official paperwork I’ve ever seen, and because I speak the rudiments of four languages besides English. I can very well put myself in the hypothetical situation of having to try to fill out forms (even simple ones), in, say, Hebrew, which I speak well enough to carry on a small-talk sort of conversation in. *PANIC!* No way. I might even have trouble in Spanish, in which I was almost completely functionally bilingual at one point.
    Personally, I like to eavesdrop on non-English speakers in public places. >:) Most of the time, they have no idea I’m doing it (and/or little expectation that anyone could), and it gives me listening-comprehension practice and also allows me to hear the way the language is actually used (as opposed to the way it’s usually taught).

  6. Alejandro, the young originally-Colombian guy who foremanned the exterior painting of our 130-year-old 3-story house, speaks way better English than Dear Leader.
    He has a better work ethic, too, something I expect you could say of the majority of immigrants, legal or otherwise. Hell of a lot better than mine, that’s for sure.
    The sincere pleasure and surprise on the faces of Spanish speaking folk on whom I try out my tiny parcel of Spanish phrases – “hello”, “please”, “you’re welcome”, demanding stuff like that – never fails to move me. Do so few Anglos make any kind of effort to show a little fellow-feeling that a simple “de nada” is like a ray of sunshine in a big, grey, snubbing world?

  7. Worth pointing out that a great number of Latinos of whatever legality already speak MORE than one language.
    Many Mexicans, for instance, speak Spanish AND their native indian language.
    • The limiting factor is GRAMMAR. Few have learned grammar in either of their languages, making it very difficult to learn English
    So my recommendation is that we all learn Esperanto.
    Esperanto is the Official Language of the United States.
    Nevermind that no one speaks it. That’s the beauty of America.

  8. A. — we had an “incident” in front of my home — three hispanic house painters were pulled over by the cops. suddenly, there were SEVEN squad cars all around and every cop jumped out screaming “hands up” “hands where we can see them” — my kids were on their bikes right in the middle of this!!! I am standing there, thinking “oh, my f*cking God! what the?” The cops scream at us to get inside. I get my kids inside, but stay at the window watching — the cops were EXTREMELY agitated and scared and screaming at these poor pathetic house painters to get out, one by one and walk backwards with their hands up! Except these guys didn’t understand English, kept trying to turn around to understand/comply with the cops — and I was terrified that the cops would shoot these guys simply because they didn’t understand… [note: I am hispanic and fluent in Spanish and thought about trying to help, but honestly, I was afraid they would shoot ME before I could explain why I was trying to help!] Anyway, they finally got all three patted down and put into squad cars… What was it all about? Someone had seen the painters with a BB gun (they were painting an apartment vacated by college students and cleaning out the junk left behind…). A 911 call saying basically “I see a brown Spanish speaking man with a gun” went out — the cops thought these guys were armed and dangerous~! They were painters. They had nothing. They disposed of the BB gun (along with the other junk). No arrest. No crime.
    But — my kids, and the other kids outside playing, were traumatized. These three painters must have crapped themselves. I was too afraid to help. It was a situation that could have turned tragic, for simple lack of communication. I wrote my police liaison officer to tell him that I could write up some basic Spanish commands that cops could carry with them — hands up/manos arriba, walk backwards/camina por atras… etc.
    They never got back to me…

  9. I am a Spaniard that has lived for a year in the States. One evening, going home from the university, there was this guy at the bus stop, ranting in front of a young a Mexican couple about all this foreign people that don’t speak the language. When my boyfriend and me (I suffer a lot in summer because of sunburn) started doing exactly the same thing he just looked at us and shut up. I’ve noticed that the problem of most people who complain about spanish being spoken around is not language, but race (I don’t really like this term when speaking about people 😉 ).
    A problem, maybe related to this one is that not may people in the States speak another language. We have a bit of a complex in Spain because we don’t usually speak many languages, while being fluent in two or three is the norm in many places in Europe, but knowing that foreign language study is not compulsory for everybody at least in high school was really a shock.
    And now, I have to apologize for my imperfect and accented english (french was my second language of choice in high school) 😉

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