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Lost in translation

Flickr photo by krazykritter

I was gone all of two and a half years.  However, during that short time Ohio changed.  Alot. 

There are even more places to shop and eat.  As if we really needed more.  But, that is a small thing compared to another issue that is more important.

I see a “new” Mexican immigration where before the biggest immigration to be seen around Dayton, Ohio was from India.  Other than overhearing the occasional Indian speaking in their native language, my world was not changed due to this or any other immigration.  Until now.

Since coming back to live in Ohio, I have seen Mexican faces all around me.  I hear Spanish daily.  I see Spanish translations on signs and brochures everywhere.  When I call my bank or phone company I must push 1 for English or 2 for Spanish.  I hear only Spanish being spoken in serveral McDonalds food preparation areas. 

I am not sure how I feel about it all.  One thing that I am sure of is that it is not going to be easy for us to undo what is being done now.

We will live with the fact that Spanish is growing faster than we could have imagined while there is no real push for these people to learn English.  Spanish is America’s second language without question.   

My question is…How will we balance it all and shouldn’t there be a requirement for English to be taught to non-English speakers?  I would rather see money poured into this than into a “war” that is has nothing to do with American people rather than gready leaders. 

What worries me is that it isn’t like Spanish is being spoken in only some areas.  It has spread throughout the country.  So, how do we teach Spanish speaking children?  How do teachers communicate with parents that don’t speak English well.  How will these families thrive in an English speaking country beyond their Spanish speaking freinds and families? 

English is being pushed aside for the money that Spanish speakers bring to the retail market. After all that is what it is all about, really. 

In my opinion, every American will soon be required to speak English and Spanish in order to make it in our consumer driven America.  Will the Spanish speakers be required to do the same?  I am not so sure about that. 

I have been watching a trend.  A trend of catering to Spanish speakers without the requirement or programs put in place for these same speakers to learn English.  

I think that America will regret all this translating.  In my honest opinion, we will, sooner rather than later, be lost in it all.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Dana November 28, 2006, 6:31 pm

    I don’t think it will be an issue. I grew up in the Chicago area in a town that was about 40% foreign born (Greek and Serbian mostly). Most of my friends’ parents did not speak English. The kids learned it from playing with neighborhood kids, watching tv, and then once they went to school. It wasn’t a problem for them. The only inconvenience is things like parent teacher conferences. In that case the kids usually come along to translate which can be an obvious problem if the teacher has anything bad to say! Otherwise, though, since the US is a country of immigrants, this has been going on for a long time and I don’t think the Spanish-language influx will be any different. It just seems like it because you aren’t used to it in your area.

  • Julie November 29, 2006, 4:10 am

    I once had a teacher of Biology who could barely speak English. And most English speaking people have a hard time pronouncing some of the words in Biology. The teacher was a last resort as our private school couldn’t get anybody else at the time. She wasn’t even a teacher. It was more like a sub. As a result I barely passed. But I did manage to pass. I have no idea how.

    The teacher was married to a police man. Not to be mean but I think she married him just because it meant she’d automatically be a citizen in seven years. Her husband was obese. And some of the things she said about him were kind of mean. One of them was, “Its only seven years.” I didn’t understand until later what was meant by that. Mexicans do anything to escape their country. Pretty sad.

  • Lady Iphigenia December 1, 2006, 3:03 am

    Don’t worry, Spanish speaking immigrants will learn English… And maybe English speakers will try to learn Spanish!? (Think about that, your kids will even have more chance to learn a third language!)

  • Wondering... December 2, 2006, 3:12 pm

    Don’t you feel a little bit hypocritical saying this after having lived in France for 2 years and, in your own words, not learning very much French?

  • Pumpkin December 6, 2006, 12:15 am

    Lady Iphigenia, I would love for my kids to learn Spanish! I hope that they learn at least two more languages.

    Wondering,
    I never said that I didn’t learn very much French. My husband and I speak in French…my French is not a good French. I make lots of errors. I do understand most of what is said to me in French now where as when I moved to France I didn’t. Over the two and half years that I lived in France I never once expected anything to be translated into English for me…I was happy when it was (rarely) but I NEVER expected it to be. In France the language is French and by the time we moved back to the States I had learned to speak a basic French and even had to talk to doctors on emergency visits in French explaining what happened or was wrong with my kids. In France everyone does not speak English and even if they do they will not automatically speak to you in English. Again, I never expected them to. If I had I wouldn’t have learned the French that I did learn. It did take me longer to learn due to staying at home with the kids and having no one but my husband to speak with. That is my point. These families need to be in programs that are FREE to learn English. Daycare for their kids would also be nice. I know from experience and that is why I think we need to focus more on learning English and less on translating.

  • Cathy Y. December 6, 2006, 3:56 am

    I think the reason this problem is so big and isn’t getting any better is for a couple of reasons: (1) Many of these people came here to escape poverty, and they come here and work 60 or 70 hours a week or more doing oftentimes physically hard work under difficult conditions (working in fields, constructing houses, etc.) They probably don’t even have much time when they are off work to get a meal, a shower, and sleep, much less go to classes, or even if they did, that the classes would be available at the time they needed them or that there would even be enough classes to serve everyone. (2) With many of these people also here illegally, there is likely no way they are going to want to congregate at places that serve them so obviously (like a class), what with the fear of INS agents hanging around, ready to arrest them. I’m not meaning to start a discussion here on legal vs. illegal immigration, but from a “human” point of view it’s a sad situation, unfortunately.

  • Pumpkin December 6, 2006, 7:06 pm

    CathyY,
    I agree with you. I think it is a very important issue that people often want to put bandaids on or ignore completely.
    I was talking more about the legal immigrants…but, the illegal immigrants are as important as an American issue if not more at the moment.

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