Food for Thought

Quesadillas. Fettuccini. Tomatoes. If the ‘language police’ had
their way, these foreign-born terms for foods on dinner tables
across the United States would be ousted faster than the latest
batch of immigrants attempting to cross the Mexican/US border.

Sound ridiculous? It’s happened before, syndicated columnist
Walter Brasch writes in a piece published by the radical internet
newsletter
Dissident Voice. During World War I,
German sauerkraut morphed into ‘victory cabbage,’ while in 2003,
general animosity toward the French led
Rep. Robert W. Ney (R-Ohio) to declare
french toast and fries ‘freedom toast’ and ‘freedom fries’ in
all House of Representatives restaurants.

Similarly minded politicians have gone a step farther, routing
taxpayer dollars toward passing legislation in ‘hundreds of towns
and half of the states’ to enshrine English as the official
language, Brasch reports.

Those not content with simply imposing one of the world’s 6,800
tongues on all US residents will appreciate President Bush’s
efforts to stunt language learning, Brasch writes. By eradicating
the
Bilingual Education Act, which encouraged
students to study both English and their mother tongue, a
critical academic asset was lost. And although the current
administration proclaims no child will be left behind, the kids’
native languages certainly will be.

Brasch points out that most Americans have no qualms about
sporting shoes from Thailand, waving Chinese-produced US flags, and
cruising through town in imported automobiles (not to mention the
foreign gasoline that’s fueling them). Plus modern English, like
the United States itself, was derived from a melting pot of
international peoples and speech: 75,000 ‘English’ words come from
foreign shores, from the Dutch’s ‘icebergs’ to the Czechs’
‘robots,’ not to mention a plethora of musical terms and
animals.

‘By ‘rephrasing’ our linguistic and cultural base to demand an
ethnocentric America,’ Brasch concludes, ‘we destroy a nation
founded upon liberty and developed by immigrants.’ — Kristen
Mueller

Go There >>
Food for Thought

Related Link:
Pa. House’s ‘Official Language’ Bill Speaks Up
For English

Related Links from the Utne Archive:
English
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