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mimartin
04-30-2010, 12:49 PM
Tim James who is running for Governor of Alabama has an interesting political advertisement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9ohsvJHkbY

While I'm against illegal immigration, I find this ridiculous and bordering on racism since it not only punishes illegal aliens, but legal immigrants. If he really believes that not being able to read English road signs, that are “intentionally pictographs” designed to be understandable without reading, was hazardous then he also needs to revolt the licenses of the illiterate. This was roughly 15% of the population of his state in 2003, most likely the same people he is pandering too with this stupidity.

Hey Tim James, I have a better idea, if you don’t want illegal aliens to have driver’s licenses, then change that law and don’t punish those that did it the right way and came to this country legally.

Thoughts?

Det. Bart Lasiter
04-30-2010, 01:00 PM
Thoughts?
yes:
Governor of Alabama

Pavlos
04-30-2010, 01:05 PM
I don't speak American but this certainly isn't good English:

"It makes good sense. Does it to you?"

Perhaps he should read a book or two. Also, it's incredibly disorientating that he keeps on walking through the same doorway...

mur'phon
04-30-2010, 02:06 PM
Aside from: "After this and the Arizona law, the reps must be really desperate to alienate the fastest growing group in America". No (admitedly, the Arizona law might be more devastating to the police vote, but you get the idea).

Litofsky
04-30-2010, 02:33 PM
At any rate, he's an idiot. (http://xkcd.com/84/)

Salzella
04-30-2010, 03:02 PM
American politics makes our brand of nutter look very tame indeed...

Totenkopf
04-30-2010, 03:54 PM
Actually, he makes legitimate points. A common language is part of the glue that holds a country together. Frankly, it's both assinine and discriminatory to only print the test out in 12 languages. What about everyone else who comes here and can't speak or read any of those 12 languages? :xp: Having been to several non-english speaking countries, I'd say that if I wanted to live there, the burden would be upon me to learn the native tongue. While english does have some stature as a global lingua franca, you do yourself a disservice by not learning a country's native language (which, like it or not, is english in the USA) as it interferes w/your ability to experience that culture in any meaningful way. It also limits your options. Being multilingual is a great thing at a personal level but insane as a national policy.

mimartin
04-30-2010, 04:26 PM
Where did anyone comment that new immigrants should not learn English in this thread?

However, English is not an easy language to learn and driving is a very import factor (at least in the South where mass transit is nonexistent) for getting to work and work is an important factor in eating. :) It may actually be important to allow new legal immigrants to have a driver’s license before they learn to butcher the English language like the rest of us Americans.

Since you seem to think learning to read English is important to driving, do you support revoking the lilliterates driver's licence?

So the only point I see Tim James having is that he has not thought this out at all.

mur'phon
04-30-2010, 04:50 PM
Who says he hasn't? Assuming it brings him the votes I doubt he cares wether or not it makes sence.

Ping
04-30-2010, 05:38 PM
As for me, I believe a person should learn English when they emigrate here, but kick them out because they don't know the language? That's almost racism.

True_Avery
04-30-2010, 05:39 PM
He's demanding that everyone know English to the level he desires. His grasp of how to speak English is limited and he wants to make something as needed as a driving test completely English. I'm sorry, but he is speaking the most bastardized form of English on the planet and he's demanding his state be -more- English. I would recommend anyone who moves here learn some English, but if you've ever tried to learn a different language it doesn't always work out that way, especially considering English (and Americanized English) is one of the the hardest languages on the planet to just pick up, not to mention that past 25 it becomes increasingly hard to teach yourself a new language.

urluckyday
04-30-2010, 06:04 PM
The only thoughts I've ever had about these things about "making English the official language" and whatnot was that I'm against forcing people to learn English, but I'm also against making people make signs and notifications in any other language than English like we see in Canada with English and French. All I have on the subject...

True_Avery
04-30-2010, 06:12 PM
The only thoughts I've ever had about these things about "making English the official language" and whatnot was that I'm against forcing people to learn English, but I'm also against making people make signs and notifications in any other language than English like we see in Canada with English and French. All I have on the subject...
In concept I agree, but living in Southern California (20 minutes from the border) it is sort of necessary to have dual language signs in English/Spanish. Not everyone out here has a completely firm grip on English, even more so considering Spanish and English have almost completely different grammatical structures. Its hard enough to get past the part where inanimate objects are referred to in gender terms.

That said, I agree it shouldn't be as extreme as French Canada (Like Quebec City) where the signs are either French, or English, and not often both.

Revan 411
04-30-2010, 06:18 PM
I'm sorry, but if you guys have ever been to Canada, you would notice that our signs are both written in English, and in French; as those two are the official languages of Canada.

True_Avery
04-30-2010, 06:20 PM
I'm sorry, but if you guys have ever been to Canada, you would notice that our signs are both written in English, and in French; as those two are the official languages of Canada.
Fair point, but having friends in both in and out of areas like Quebec I've been told numerous times that French is pretty much required to get around. I'm up for being corrected on that, however.

Revan 411
04-30-2010, 06:24 PM
French is required to get around in areas like Quebec, yes. But not "all" areas of Canada are like that; most of them have English as the prime language, and French as the secondary one. (Perfect example: Ontario.)

And there are a number of English signs located throughout Quebec, but the majority is mostly French as it's a French speaking province. (Province is pretty much the equivalent of a "State." :p)

Blix
04-30-2010, 06:48 PM
Is this another case of "dey took er jubs!!!!"

Darth Avlectus
04-30-2010, 07:03 PM
So as someone can be stopped for looking of being "out of place", it's racist, unconstitutional, and all that jazz to ask for a green card if they don't speak English.

Meh. Don't like it but it's nothing new. That's about what I've come to expect here in Sacramento.

But look on the bright side: we can still deport Beavis to Mexico if he is cornholio in a burger world outfit. :p

Totenkopf
04-30-2010, 07:32 PM
Where did anyone comment that new immigrants should not learn English in this thread?

However, English is not an easy language to learn and driving is a very import factor (at least in the South where mass transit is nonexistent) for getting to work and work is an important factor in eating. :) It may actually be important to allow new legal immigrants to have a driverís license before they learn to butcher the English language like the rest of us Americans.

Since you seem to think learning to read English is important to driving, do you support revoking the lilliterates driver's licence?

So the only point I see Tim James having is that he has not thought this out at all.

Where did I say anyone had? I was just stating my position. And, unlike what I saw in a post above, nowhere has the man said you should leave America if you can't. He only said that if you ARE going to live in America, you should learn English. Big deal. Re illiterates, if they can't read, how did they pass the driver's test unless they were given it orally? If you can't understand a country's language, you've no business living there UNLESS you accept the responsibility of constantly having an interpreter at your own (not the govt's) expense or just being in the dark on a lot of things. No one is saying you have to be a linguist, but people can pick up survival language skills.

Liverandbacon
04-30-2010, 07:40 PM
Is this another case of "dey took er jubs!!!!"

No.

The title of the thread is slightly misleading, as the video is more "Be capable of reading very basic English or don't drive". Admittedly, a number of accidents where I am living right now are caused by immigrant truck-drivers (legal and otherwise) driving onto the no truck parkway and getting stuck in/destroying bridges, when they can't understand the "no trucks" sign, and follow their spanish-speaking GPS. Also, as was said earlier in this thread, putting the drivers test in 12 languages is unfair to the people who don't speak any of them, placing them below other immigrants.

With that said however, the would-be governor is clearly phrasing his argument very badly, and clearly trying to attract the vote of the "dey took er jubs!!!" folks you mention, instead of laying out the points in favor of his argument properly.

Edit: I forgot to mention: Immigrants wouldn't even need to be fluent in English to pass an all-english driver's test. They would only need to learn very rudimentary vocabulary. After a less than a year of studying Chinese (with no relatives from even the same continent as China helping), I was able to understand every single road sign I came across there.

mimartin
04-30-2010, 07:49 PM
No one is saying you have to be a linguist, but people can pick up survival language skills.So what do we do, put legal immigrates on welfare until they can learn the language enough to take a driver’s test?


Some people can understand English enough to make out a road sign, but yet still not be able to take an exam.


Also, yes they do give the drivers exam orally to those that cannot read (at least in Texas). I use to work for a dirt pit and I have known a few people that could not read or write at all, but they recieved their commerical driver's license.

The title of the thread is slightly misleading. The title is not designed to be overly serious.

Also, as was said earlier in this thread, putting the drivers test in 12 languages is unfair to the people who don't speak any of them, placing them below other immigrants. I wonder why they picked those 12 languages? Perhaps it is because they are the 12 most common languages of the immigrants coming to Alabama?

I guess the would be governor is against any more Japanese auto makers or other companies coming into his state.

Totenkopf
04-30-2010, 08:02 PM
So what do we do, put legal immigrates welfare until they can learn the language enough to take a driver’s test?

Also, yes the do give the drivers exam orally to those that cannot read (at least in Texas). I use to work for a dirt pit and I have known a few people that could not read or write at all, but they recieved their commerical driver's license.

Are these english speaking illiterates or non-english speaking ones that were talking about? English speaking ones already understand the language and can probably understand very basic written words anyway (yes, no, etc..). Not sure TX should be giving illiterate non-english speaking drivers a license (that is, if they do, if not, then not an issue). As to your question about what to do with foreigners that can't speak the language....likely there are businesses that have bilingual employees (esp in the SW US) that might hire them anyway. But frankly, you shouldn't move to another country and refuse to learn their language if you intend to live there. Save the "it's too hard" complaint b/c no one really cares (this applies to Americans who wish to live abroad as well, so not being hypocritical). As to the driving, move somewhere where there's public transportation or carpool w/ someone are just two possible options. Point is, don't expect that your new country has to adapt to you, but you to it.

mimartin
04-30-2010, 08:19 PM
What is the difference in English speaking illiterates or legal immigrates that cannot read or speaking English when it comes to reading road signs?

Certain foreign companies come into a country. They usually bring in some of their own workers as supervisors. I know when a Japanese chemical plant came here in the 1980s we were had to accommodate them somewhat, but considering the jobs they brought into the area, it was worth it. They also did learn English, but it was not overnight. I heard similar stories from relatives in Alabama when Mercedes moved in.

Totenkopf
04-30-2010, 08:25 PM
Don't know about you, but I don't expect people to immediately become fluent in their new language overnight. Doesn't absolve them of the responsibility to learn it. We're not talking transients (including tourists), either (though they too should learn at least survival language skills).

As to illiterates....it's easier to explain a sign to an english speaking illiterate than a non-english speaking one. They can still understand what you're saying.

mimartin
04-30-2010, 08:30 PM
Again who said they should not learn English?

If they can read English well enough to drive or recognize road signs well enough to drive why shouldn't they be able to drive?

Totenkopf
04-30-2010, 08:42 PM
Again, show me where I stated that? If they can read english well enough to drive then they are either "functional illiterates" or illiteracy is a red herring. Not sure what you're driving at otherwise. As to whether non-english speakers should be allowed to drive on American roads, that's a toss-up. As long as they bring someone that understands english (or their place of business does), at least there will be minimal communication problems in case of an accident or other problem.

mimartin
04-30-2010, 09:38 PM
Well since you keep pulling out that card, I assumed you felt I thought that.

Totenkopf
04-30-2010, 10:18 PM
Which card? The one where you felt I said you or someone else said they shouldn't? Frankly, you're the one that assumed I was singling people here out as saying that, when I pointed out that I hadn't. I was quite clear that I was spelling out my own position on the subject, irrespective of anyone else's pov.

mimartin
04-30-2010, 10:44 PM
You've stated your opinion that they need to learn English more than once. I have yet to see anyone dispute that position, so you are correct I’m really unclear on why you went back to it since it still has nothing to do with the topic at hand.

Roller123
05-01-2010, 02:18 AM
That guy is pretty racist. I have a question though, is English so threatened in USA so there is a need for such videos?

Btw whats with the delusion of grandeur of English being difficult. Among the more popular languages it is by far the simpliest and limited. No genders, no cases, no conjugation, letterbased. Learning basic English is as simple as learning about 1k words, everything else is a stepdown from whatever language the original speaker had "installed". Not to say this is an easy task, regardless.

Totenkopf
05-01-2010, 09:22 AM
Was only answering your questions. You've stated multiple times your own position in the mistaken asumption that I was accusing you of thinking that they didn't need to know/learn it at all. Hence comments like this: So what do we do, put legal immigrates on welfare until they can learn the language enough to take a driver’s test? Not sure what that has to do with anything.

@roller123--racist? how? English isn't merely the domain of one racial group. Would it have been racist if a Mexican had said Americans should learn Spanish if they wish to live or work in Mexico?

mimartin
05-01-2010, 10:37 AM
Not sure what that has to do with anything.
Not sure how to explain that better than I already have if you had bothered to read my posts.

However, English is not an easy language to learn and driving is a very import factor (at least in the South where mass transit is nonexistent) for getting to work and work is an important factor in eating. :) It may actually be important to allow new legal immigrants to have a driver’s license before they learn to butcher the English language like the rest of us Americans.

Btw whats with the delusion of grandeur of English being difficult. Among the more popular languages it is by far the simpliest and limited.Who wrote anything about it being the most difficult? I wrote it was not the easiest not that it was the most difficult.

Roller123
05-01-2010, 11:19 AM
@roller123--racist? how? English isn't merely the domain of one racial group. Would it have been racist if a Mexican had said Americans should learn Spanish if they wish to live or work in Mexico?
Uhm, common. You cant say things like this on TV plainly. His message isnt directed at those who cant speak English.(obviously) He addresses people, interested in or concerned about a "foreigner problem". And that just happens to be a very specific group of population.

==
Someone above said something about "English is one of the the hardest languages on the planet to just pick up". Cant say about planet but its the easiest out of European ones, dunno about Asian ones, they have pictograms. I heard a regular Chinese has to learn up to 20k icons. Well..

Ping
05-01-2010, 11:34 AM
Someone above said something about "English is one of the the hardest languages on the planet to just pick up". Cant say about planet but its the easiest out of European ones, dunno about Asian ones, they have pictograms. I heard a regular Chinese has to learn up to 20k icons. Well..

Having gone to Chinese school until I was in 3rd grade, I can tell you right now that you don't need to learn that many icons to communicate clearly. If you want an extremely advanced knowledge of the language, then sure, you probably will have to learn 20k, but I don't think we even cracked 1000 characters while I was learning, and I could communicate with other Chinese people just fine. I've since forgotten the language, but still, you can communicate with just basic words.

And BTW, Guiness World Records has stated that Basque is the world's hardest language to learn.

Pavlos
05-01-2010, 03:16 PM
Someone above said something about "English is one of the the hardest languages on the planet to just pick up". Cant say about planet but its the easiest out of European ones, dunno about Asian ones, they have pictograms. I heard a regular Chinese has to learn up to 20k icons. Well..
It really isn't, you know. You can pick up the basics of English very easily, but learning to read, write, and speak English to a sophisticated degree is remarkably difficult. So much so that adverbs have yet to reach the west coast of the USA.

Why is the plural of goose, geese? Why is the plural of ox, oxen? Why has one proven something but not proved it? If one has proven something then why cannot one have gotten it, metaphorically speaking. If 'ou' makes an 'oo' as in 'through', why does it make an 'o' as in 'dough' or 'ow' as in 'plough'? Why does 'doubt' have a 'b'? Why if I were to spell 'fish' 'ghoti' would it still be pronounced the same (the answer is in tough, women, and nation). Why am I when he is and you are? Shouldn't I 'be', to maintain the subjunctive in a question? Why does an apostrophe signify the genitive? Why is a good friend of mine at Cambridge, but living in Cambridge on a street? Why does an 'i' make the sound of an 'e' in every other European language and an 'e' an 'i'? Why do I keep cows but eat beef and stand over (a rather knotted phrase -- in itself a knotted phrase) sheep but eat mutton?

Among the more popular languages it is by far the simpliest and limited.
Putting aside the fallacy of making a value judgement on a language for the moment, I doubt you're qualified to make that assessment, nor is anyone not fluent in all the languages of the globe.

Should you require proof of how complex and unbound English can be then I suggest you look no further than the authors on this helpful list: Chaucer, Shakespeare, Keats, Johnson, Pope, Coleridge, Wordsworth, Beckett, Byron, Spenser, Jonson, Heaney, Milton, Yeats, Dryden, Percy and Mary Shelley, Dickens, Emily and Charlotte Brontë, Cowper, Tennyson, Marlowe, Blake, Swift, Sidney, Donne, the Gawain-poet and the Beowulf-poet, Thomas, Poe, Conrad, Tyndale, Burns, Hazlitt, Carlyle, Austen, Browning, Eliot, Golding, Hardy, Wodehouse, Joyce, and Greene.

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said, 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand
Half-shrunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.'

Writing is as good as its writers, not the illogical laws of syntax, morphology, and prosody that govern the language it's written in.

Edit: Naturally, the language laws impose limitations on methods of expression, though. Doesn't mean that different modes cannot be found.

Edit 2: To clear up a point: As language is the method of poetic expression and delivery, I strongly believe that it is an integral part of a poem's power or beauty. This is not to say 'the English language' is an intrinsic part, but rather the 'language' of the poet, regardless of whether that be Latin, Frisian, or Swahili.

adamqd
05-01-2010, 06:16 PM
I don't speak American but this certainly isn't good English:

"It makes good sense. Does it to you?"

Perhaps he should read a book or two. Also, it's incredibly disorientating that he keeps on walking through the same doorway...
qft

True_Avery
05-01-2010, 07:10 PM
It really isn't, you know. You can pick up the basics of English very easily, but learning to read, write, and speak English to a sophisticated degree is remarkably difficult. So much so that adverbs have yet to reach the west coast of the USA.

Why is the plural of goose, geese? Why is the plural of ox, oxen? Why has one proven something but not proved it? If one has proven something then why cannot one have gotten it, metaphorically speaking. If 'ou' makes an 'oo' as in 'through', why does it make an 'o' as in 'dough' or 'ow' as in 'plough'? Why does 'doubt' have a 'b'? Why if I were to spell 'fish' 'ghoti' would it still be pronounced the same (the answer is in tough, women, and nation). Why am I when he is and you are? Shouldn't I 'be', to maintain the subjunctive in a question? Why does an apostrophe signify the genitive? Why is a good friend of mine at Cambridge, but living in Cambridge on a street? Why does an 'i' make the sound of an 'e' in every other European language and an 'e' an 'i'? Why do I keep cows but eat beef and stand over (a rather knotted phrase -- in itself a knotted phrase) sheep but eat mutton?
@Roller123,

I was the one who said it, but I may have spoke too generally. The above is more what I meant. Learning to speak English isn't too difficult, but its reading, writing, and so on that can be a real struggle, especially for older people trying to learn a brand new language. While some people may know how to -speak- English, its reading, writing, and so on in, say, test form for a drivers license that can be very difficult.

Totenkopf
05-01-2010, 09:23 PM
Not sure how to explain that better than I already have if you had bothered to read my posts.

Cute. Could say the same of you since you 2x inferred something that was never said in any of mine. Besides, no need to put 'em on welfare, let them find a job close to their home till they can read well enough to pass a test (or at least understand enough english to pass it orally). ;)

Uhm, common. You cant say things like this on TV plainly. His message isnt directed at those who cant speak English.(obviously) He addresses people, interested in or concerned about a "foreigner problem". And that just happens to be a very specific group of population.

Seems more like your inference than any implication he's making. The only possible "foreigner problem" in question is one of people coming here and not making any attempt to learn the language. Since blacks, whites, hispanics and asians (and many "in between") CAN speak english in America, which one of these groups of native english speaking people is he talking too? NO

Darth Avlectus
05-01-2010, 09:43 PM
Someone above said something about "English is one of the the hardest languages on the planet to just pick up". Cant say about planet but its the easiest out of European ones, dunno about Asian ones, they have pictograms.

Mexican Spanish goes so fast on TV (Example: GolTV--Soccer...circa 2004 anyways) that you actually need to know the language and then use it before you could understand it in their transitional/communicative. In other words you can't just pick it up speech wise.

English is unwieldy overall IMO. However, I would guess it's easier to pick up on than Spanish. If you mean written communications, semantics, etc. then I would agree with you, otherwise it's probably more moderately difficult.

I heard a regular Chinese has to learn up to 20k icons. Well.. I don't know too much about Chinese language but actually what little I once used to know speaking wise wasn't too terribly difficult. Too bad I never pursued it beyond Gong Fu, history, and certain restaurant settings. Their alphabet can be rather challenging, especially depending on which dialect/version you use.

Sabretooth
05-02-2010, 02:03 AM
It really isn't, you know. You can pick up the basics of English very easily, but learning to read, write, and speak English to a sophisticated degree is remarkably difficult.

This could probably because I've been learning English since I was born, surrounded by English words, but English honestly isn't that difficult. But getting it to a sophisticated level does require dedication, but the spread of English worldwide has allowed for lots of bastardization of the language, making any English acceptable so long as it is barely comprehensible.

Also, English has the most cultural significance in the world today - no matter where you go, English movies are generally there. English books are some of the most widely-read and popularly-known.

When learning a language, it's the current culture that counts the most - not instruction books. You pick up a language much faster when you know first-hand how it is spoken and used, what colloquialisms are common and what is now outdated.

Roller123
05-02-2010, 04:44 AM
It really isn't, you know. You can pick up the basics of English very easily, but learning to read, write, and speak English to a sophisticated degree is remarkably difficult.
How many languages do you sufficiently know.

Why is the plural of goose, geese?
Actually this sentence translated into other languages doesnt even make sense. It lacks "gender" and "case" properties. For every noun you have to memorize its gender, and conjugate the word accordingly. English isnt totally free of that too. The verb "to be" is still conjugated and personal pronouns are still with gender.
Any language: "He likes her", English trans.: "I like I".
Any language: "He is ready." English trans.: "I be ready".
Not conjugated, genderless. Its really that simple and limited. Saying "plural of goose, geese?" is pretty much gibberish. And that on top of required changes for making a word plural.

list of writers
Not sure what you mean by that, english speaking writers write for the english speaking population. You dont really expect them to write in other language right? They are doing the best they can.

'e' an 'i'
This is a natural process of letterbased languages, where speaking and writing ways go apart. This prob doesnt "exist" in, say, Chinese, but thats because you have to learn every word anyway. Cured on a government level with a language reform. (Which USA i believe doesnt do), but thats not a problem with a language but a country. Doesnt matter on the Internet anyway. For example you can say "You -> U". U r spik inglish.

Pavlos
05-02-2010, 06:36 AM
How many languages do you sufficiently know.
That wasn't the point. And three, which is far from qualified.

Not sure what you mean by that, english speaking writers write for the english speaking population. You dont really expect them to write in other language right? They are doing the best they can.
I'd have expected Chaucer to write in French but that's by the bye. My point, both here and in the list of odd words, was an attempt to demonstrate how varied (and powerful) English can be in a defence against your assertion of linguistic simplicity. It wasn't well-expressed and for that I apologise.

What you appear to be arguing is that one language is better than another, intrinsically. Your grounds for this is that one is more complicated than another because one has verb endings and gender and the other does but in a less wide-spread form: a cultural bias. Professor David Crystal, praise be to him, might help:

There may indeed be important differences in the structural complexity of language [however] all languages are arguably equal in the sense that there is nothing intrinsically limiting, demeaning, or handicapping about any of them. All languages meet the social and psychological needs of their speakers, are equally deserving of scientific study, and can provide us with valuable information about human nature and society.
[...]
The fact of the mater is that every culture which has been investigated, no matter how 'primitive' it may be in cultural terms, turns out to have a fully developed language, with a complexity comparable to those of the so-called 'civilized' nations. There are no 'bronze age' or 'stone age' languages. All languages have a complex grammar: there may be relative simplicity in one respect (e.g. no word endings), but there seems always to be relative complexity in another (e.g. word position). People sometimes think of languages such as English as 'having little grammar' because there are few word endings. But this is once again the unfortunate influence of Latin which makes us think of complexity in terms of the inflectional system of that language.
[...]
A belief that some languages are intrinsically superior to others is widespread, but it has no basis in linguistic fact. Some languages are of course more useful or prestigious than others, at a given period of history, but this is due to the pre-eminence of the speakers at that time, and not to any inherent linguistic characteristics.

This could probably because I've been learning English since I was born, surrounded by English words, but English honestly isn't that difficult. But getting it to a sophisticated level does require dedication, but the spread of English worldwide has allowed for lots of bastardization of the language, making any English acceptable so long as it is barely comprehensible.
You may be right. My point was, however, that English is not made up of logical cases and inflections but a matted mess of forms sponged off various languages. It has its own complexities, different from, say, French.

Tommycat
05-04-2010, 09:12 AM
Sheesh.. you make it sound like you have to learn 3 words for the gender. For the most part you don't. In the case of German, you learn the gender of the word through die, der, das Word gender generally doesn't change. All proper nouns are masculine(saying "das volkswagen" really means the people's car, while "der Volkswagen" is the company). But honestly there is not nearly as much variation in German as there is in English. Get in the room with a Scott and a Texan Auctioneer and they may both be speaking English, but deciphering what they are saying might be a bit of a challenge. Work phone support for a while and tell me English is easy. Understanding different accents from a wide range of people can be rather fun at times.

The only people who don't think English is difficult to learn are those who are native speakers of the language. It can be quite frustrating. That is not to say it is the MOST difficult. Some languages you have to be pretty well brought up in to learn. But there are subtleties of the language that seem strange to others. "Smoking a fag" means two different things between LA and London.

Roller123
06-28-2010, 12:37 AM
South Germans(swabian) and North Germans(plattdeutsch) do not understand each other. Or very barely. Funny you mention german language, as its Grammatik is regarded as very difficult by American writers themselves(see Mark Twain)

Pavlos
I wasnt disputing that an english speaking writer cant produce a work of art. My apologies if it came that way. But a language is a tool nothing more. and better tools produce better results. Note how the professor doesnt give any exampes of properties which could qualify as "richness". Oh wait he did.

but there seems always to be relative complexity in another (e.g. word position)
Which is again funny, because English has a very strict word position. Good for learning, bad for writing and rhyming. Example: "John killed Mary". Change word order and it becomes "Mary killed John". Thats not complexity and flexibility. The opposite but.

machievelli
06-28-2010, 02:05 AM
Tim James who is running for Governor of Alabama has an interesting political advertisement.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9ohsvJHkbY

While I'm against illegal immigration, I find this ridiculous and bordering on racism since it not only punishes illegal aliens, but legal immigrants. If he really believes that not being able to read English road signs, that are “intentionally pictographs” designed to be understandable without reading, was hazardous then he also needs to revolt the licenses of the illiterate. This was roughly 15% of the population of his state in 2003, most likely the same people he is pandering too with this stupidity.

Hey Tim James, I have a better idea, if you don’t want illegal aliens to have driver’s licenses, then change that law and don’t punish those that did it the right way and came to this country legally.
Thoughts?

American road signs tend to use the same International symbols used throughout the world. If you cannot read an international roadsign, there is no where in the world that should issiue one.

Aside from: "After this and the Arizona law, the reps must be really desperate to alienate the fastest growing group in America". No (admitedly, the Arizona law might be more devastating to the police vote, but you get the idea).

Growing by illegally immigrating. Face it, until the last decade it was a seven year jail sentence if you immigrated from the US to Mexico illegaly.

At any rate, he's an idiot. (http://xkcd.com/84/)

He's an American Politician. I think that makes him an idiot by definition.

Actually, he makes legitimate points. A common language is part of the glue that holds a country together. Frankly, it's both assinine and discriminatory to only print the test out in 12 languages. What about everyone else who comes here and can't speak or read any of those 12 languages? :xp: Having been to several non-english speaking countries, I'd say that if I wanted to live there, the burden would be upon me to learn the native tongue. While english does have some stature as a global lingua franca, you do yourself a disservice by not learning a country's native language (which, like it or not, is english in the USA) as it interferes w/your ability to experience that culture in any meaningful way. It also limits your options. Being multilingual is a great thing at a personal level but insane as a national policy.

Actually, the US Census Bureau (I helped with the 2000 census) has printing of the exact same forms in 31 languages.

He's demanding that everyone know English to the level he desires. His grasp of how to speak English is limited and he wants to make something as needed as a driving test completely English. I'm sorry, but he is speaking the most bastardized form of English on the planet and he's demanding his state be -more- English. I would recommend anyone who moves here learn some English, but if you've ever tried to learn a different language it doesn't always work out that way, especially considering English (and Americanized English) is one of the the hardest languages on the planet to just pick up, not to mention that past 25 it becomes increasingly hard to teach yourself a new language.

Since his grasp is less than the Average American, why not use his level of English?

Totenkopf
06-28-2010, 03:48 AM
Actually, the US Census Bureau (I helped with the 2000 census) has printing of the exact same forms in 31 languages.


Yeah, it doesn't surprise me. Waste of money, frankly.

mimartin
06-28-2010, 08:35 AM
American road signs tend to use the same International symbols used throughout the world. If you cannot read an international roadsign, there is no where in the world that should issiue one. Nope, if you cannot understand the meaning of international road signs, then there is nowhere in the world that would issue a license. I’ve had an international drivers license, but I cannot read any French, I did study the signage enough to pass the test (written in English).



Face it, until the last decade it was a seven year jail sentence if you immigrated from the US to Mexico illegaly.

Nope, just look at the last time the U.S. went though this type of debate. In 1986 we had immigration reform, what we really had was amnesty for illegal immigrants. There is nothing new about this debate and it has been going on for way more than a decade. Who in their right mind would think that rewarding illegal activity would suddenly stop it?

machievelli
06-28-2010, 10:34 AM
Nope, just look at the last time the U.S. went though this type of debate. In 1986 we had immigration reform, what we really had was amnesty for illegal immigrants. There is nothing new about this debate and it has been going on for way more than a decade. Who in their right mind would think that rewarding illegal activity would suddenly stop it?

You appear to have misaprehended my comment. Until seven years ago, Mexican law had a penalty of 7 years followed by deportation if you immigrated there illegally. They changed it because even as they have screamed that they have the 'right' to immigrate into the US, you didn't have the same right going the other way.

As for the original amnesty, all it did was tell the others who had yet to try it, all you have to do is run north again hide long enough, and your crime will be rewarded.

mimartin
06-28-2010, 10:59 AM
You appear to have misaprehended my comment. Yep, I flat got that completely backward. I did not live up to the measure twice cut once philosophy. Of course in this case it was read twice. I apologize.

machievelli
06-28-2010, 10:57 PM
Yep, I flat got that completely backward. I did not live up to the measure twice cut once philosophy. Of course in this case it was read twice. I apologize.

No problem. COnsidering the people I argue with sometimes here, Doing what they then accuse me of for example, someone willing to admit they were wrong is refreshing.

'Lay on MacDuff, and damned be he who cries, kold, enough!'

GODKING
12-21-2010, 04:19 PM
I agree one hundred percent if you cant speak english you shouldnt be in american as a AMERICAN CITIZEN. They also butcher our language the ones who try. In my school we had to do a project on ourselves and i had these mexican girl in my class this is what she said i kid you not.

i like play
i like ball
i like sister
i like fun
i like walk
i like run
i like game
i like stuff

The Doctor
12-21-2010, 04:31 PM
I agree one hundred percent if you cant speak english you shouldnt be in american as a AMERICAN CITIZEN. They also butcher our language the ones who try.
I usually adore irony, but this is just painful.

RC-1183
12-21-2010, 05:05 PM
Haha, I agree with both The Doc and the thread topic. It's called America for a reason, I'm sure if and American was to go to Mexico they would have to learn Spanish would they not? You don't go to Juarez and see a bunch of white guys in suits have convos in English and snickering at the Mexicans because they can't understand them.

The Doctor
12-21-2010, 05:26 PM
The thing is, Mexico doesn't pride itself as "the great melting pot", or whatever you call it, the way America does. No country does. If you ask me, a country can't claim to want to be the pinnacle of cultural conglomeration and then complain when people don't speak the language.

Should people who immigrate to the US or Canada try to learn English (or French, depending on where in Canada)? Definitely, no question; assimilation, to an extent, is a necessary part of living in any foreign country. But I also think English speaking people need to make certain allowances for those who, like myself, simply aren't able to learn foreign languages with any kind of ease.

If they can make themselves understood in day to day life by the majority of the people around them without sacrificing their dignity (ie playing charades to get their point across), I say they're good to go. I do, however, draw the line at trying to communicate with English speakers in your native language, then treating them like idiots when they don't understand you. Talking louder doesn't make your language any more comprehensible to non-speakers (looking at you, Mandarin speakers T_T).

jonathan7
12-22-2010, 05:46 AM
I agree one hundred percent if you cant speak english you shouldnt be in american as a AMERICAN CITIZEN. They also butcher our language the ones who try. In my school we had to do a project on ourselves and i had these mexican girl in my class this is what she said i kid you not.

i like play
i like ball
i like sister
i like fun
i like walk
i like run
i like game
i like stuff

Stinking Irony here! Speaking as an english speaker who is living in a foreign country who speak a different language. Language learning is incredibly difficult and impatient and mean people like YOU do not make learning language any easier. Especially considering the fact she is clearly trying to learn the language by being in your school. Are you so ignorant you think she is magically going to learn all the english she needs in a day?

Instead of moaning about her language perhaps you could like, you know, shock horror; help her and show compassion. That said given that you seem unable yourself to actually type english with any degree of precision, accuracy, correct grammer or capitalisation you teaching it may well not be the best of Ideas. I could of course go through all the errors in your post if you want?

*Apologies for any incorrect Iīs in my post such as this: ı İ - I have tried not to put them in but am using a foreign keyboard.

Tommycat
12-22-2010, 10:46 AM
No offense GODKING, but the Mexican(though it's probably best to use Latin American unless she is a Mexican Citizen) is at least making an attempt at learning the language. The thread topic is about people who make no attempt at learning the language. Also, when you trash someone for not speaking American English well, you should verify that you are using it correctly.

As for your theoretical: You must not have been down to Cabo San Lucas. You see that happen at many cantinas, and quite frankly, we Americans tend to be the ones making fun of people who don't speak English in THEIR OWN COUNTRY.

As for the "Melting Pot" from The Doctor: When you place many things in a melting pot they lose their individuality and become a part of the whole. That means WE incorporate things from their culture, not that we change ourselves to fit their needs.

Interestingly enough, I was talking with a guy at work who apologized about his poor English. I said in my thick southern drawl, "It's no problem. Yer English is a hell of a lot better than my Bulgarian."

Sabretooth
12-22-2010, 12:11 PM
It's called America for a reason

Ah sweet, proud America, fatherland of the Americanese-speaking peoples.

The Doctor
12-22-2010, 12:13 PM
As for the "Melting Pot" from The Doctor: When you place many things in a melting pot they lose their individuality and become a part of the whole. That means WE incorporate things from their culture, not that we change ourselves to fit their needs.
If I understand you right, you're saying that only foreign elements melt down and become part of the whole. That's not a "melting pot", that's assimilation. In a melting pot metaphor, all elements should break down and mingle with each other to form a whole that's hopefully greater than the sum of its parts. That means that when some people fail to, for example, learn the country's most common tongue, the rest would theoretically change to accommodate them.

Unless you're saying that English language, values, literature, etc. are the actual pot that does the melting itself. Which, while it does render most of what I've just said moot, raises whole other questions and concerns about what I understood to be the ideals of American society that just may belong in another thread entirely.

Tommycat
12-22-2010, 01:11 PM
If I understand you right, you're saying that only foreign elements melt down and become part of the whole. That's not a "melting pot", that's assimilation. In a melting pot metaphor, all elements should break down and mingle with each other to form a whole that's hopefully greater than the sum of its parts. That means that when some people fail to, for example, learn the country's most common tongue, the rest would theoretically change to accommodate them.

Unless you're saying that English language, values, literature, etc. are the actual pot that does the melting itself. Which, while it does render most of what I've just said moot, raises whole other questions and concerns about what I understood to be the ideals of American society that just may belong in another thread entirely.
Not quite. We incorporate their language into our own. For example. "Que pasa" is added to the american "Dude" We meld aspects of other languages into our own. It becomes part of the whole. Aspects of German Spanish Italian and varied other languages have melted together with English to help form the American English and slang that we use.

What you are saying is that rather than melt, they can be stubborn and make the pot melt to fit them.

The Doctor
12-22-2010, 01:30 PM
Not quite. We incorporate their language into our own. For example. "Que pasa" is added to the american "Dude" We meld aspects of other languages into our own. It becomes part of the whole. Aspects of German Spanish Italian and varied other languages have melted together with English to help form the American English and slang that we use.

What you are saying is that rather than melt, they can be stubborn and make the pot melt to fit them.
You misunderstand me. I'm not saying that they should be allowed to be stubborn and not learn English simply because they don't want to. They should attempt to do so for the sake of everyone around them as well as their own. I believe I said as much. However, I also feel that concessions must be made for people who simply can't learn languages as well as others. The melting pot can't start bitching and moaning when something that just can't melt all the way is dropped in. It has to live with it without trying to push it out again.

Tommycat
12-22-2010, 01:50 PM
If it don't melt, then it isn't part of the melting pot. This isn't a stew we're talking about. Yes, it's more like assimilation(not bad like Borg assimilation). They conform to OUR country since they came here. If I move to France, I am EXPECTED to learn French. They are not expected to learn English(though unlike the US where we only focus on ONE FRIGGIN LANGUAGE their kids are taught multiple languages). If I move to Mexico, I am EXPECTED to learn Spanish.

Do I think that we should only be taught one language? No. I believe that in order to be a world wide competitor, we should be brought up with multiple languages in our schools. HOWEVER, no language should be given preferential treatment(save English, our primary language) in schools.

Sabretooth
12-22-2010, 01:54 PM
Has this been posted yet? If not, here's the obligatory xkcd:

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/national_language.jpg

Tommycat
12-22-2010, 02:33 PM
Has this been posted yet? If not, here's the obligatory xkcd:

http://imgs.xkcd.com/comics/national_language.jpg

Yeah. I have a native-American friend. He tried that with me. I said, Ya should have fought harder for your language. That's why we're fighting so hard for ours NOW"

Sabretooth
12-22-2010, 10:42 PM
Yeah, wait till those Latinos get horses and gunpowder. Then you're all screwed.

mimartin
12-22-2010, 10:53 PM
Yeah, wait till those Latinos get horses and gunpowder. Then you're all screwed.

Nope, we will just wait for them to take a nap then attack. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_San_Jacinto) Texans may not know when to run, but we do know when to fight. ;)

Ctrl Alt Del
12-22-2010, 11:14 PM
Yeah. I have a native-American friend. He tried that with me. I said, Ya should have fought harder for your language. That's why we're fighting so hard for ours NOW"

Is that serious?

jonathan7
12-23-2010, 05:16 AM
Yeah. I have a native-American friend. He tried that with me. I said, Ya should have fought harder for your language. That's why we're fighting so hard for ours NOW"

This is a joke right? You had guns the Indians generally had arrows, and they were fighting for their land, their culture, their way of life and ultimately their lives. I think all of that is both somewhat harder and more serious than if English is the first spoken language. Nor do I really think the Native Americans had any chance of winning, which means that regardless of how hard they fought they would have lost. I don't think anyone could of fought harder (or dirtier) than the Japanese in WWII and they still lost....

The Doctor
12-23-2010, 12:03 PM
Yeah. I have a native-American friend. He tried that with me. I said, Ya should have fought harder for your language. That's why we're fighting so hard for ours NOW"

How do you not fall down more?

Tommycat
12-23-2010, 12:11 PM
Meh you'd have had to been there. And know how we tease each other. Not to mention I am part Shoshone(very small... like great great great grandmother). He also teases me about how my house is built on his ancestral land. We joke with each other about all of that stuff. He is after all a friend. He likes to point out that the Native Americans were pretty crafty. They got us to kill ourselves and give them all our money(tobacco and casinos).

And mimartin: Yer talkin about that time Texans decided to stay and fight(rather than run) at that little mission in San Antonio aren't you? Ya know... Remember the Alamo

Adavardes
01-26-2011, 10:29 AM
I'm the first one to be against racism. I think that calling names based on the colour of your skin, or where you were born, is absolutely wrong, and one of the greatest and most detrimental tendencies of human society. It's disgusting and ignorant, and I believe that ardently. That, however, does not stop me thinking that people that live in this country need to learn how to speak, read, and write english. The fact of the matter is, we're the only country in the world without an official language that people have to learn to live here. It's a dangerous precedent to have lining a basic foundation of our society: being able to communicate with each other. How is infrastructure supposed to sustain itself in any sense if we can't do that?

I don't agree with hateful campaigns about it, tinged with racism, like this one is, but we can't be afraid to strengthen ourselves as a nation for that reason alone. Far less racist countries than ourselves have national languages. Canada, a country with one of the most open immigration policies anywhere, has two: French and English, which are chosen by each province based on the population. And I understand that some people might have learning deficiencies when it comes to a new language, so certain concessions, or possibly rectifications, should be made for them. That said, a standard needs to be put in place nevertheless. So my proposal is, be ashamed of this politician, but keep in mind that the core of what he wants to do is important. We just have to scrape away the rhetoric.

mur'phon
02-07-2011, 09:59 AM
Having an official language doesen't mean everyone has to speak it, IIRC South Africa has 12, doesen't mean everyone is expected to speak Zulu or even Afrikaans. Countries with official languages, shockingly enough, can just as easily acomodate people who don't speak the oficial language(s). This is partly because the fact that a language is official doesen't neccesarily grant it any major advantages other languages don't get, heck sometimes it only means you have a right to get official documents in your language.

Therefore, making a language official doesen't in itself enable people to communicate, and indeed often ends up with a lot of regulation that I guess many here find excessive.

Also, making english official opens the door for other languages to petition for the same status. Some, like tribal languages, can make essentially the same arguments they made to get special rights. Others like spanish, can argue that it deserves it based on its number of speakers (especially in some cities, and states). The beauty of no official language, if you want english to be dominant, is that since it is the most spoken language by far, it has an easier time dominating an "open market". Just like corporate laws has hampered microsoft and benefitted apple, so could official language status hamper english and help other languages.

Adavardes
02-10-2011, 02:18 PM
True enough, but we have to do something that requires language minority citizens to learn the basics of English. The amendment in 1975 to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 already set a precedent. Nobody, as of now, has to learn English to do anything in this country. In fact, if they live in a district with less than 50% English literacy, and 5% of the population is a language minority, they don't even have to learn English to vote. History and comparative politics teach us that a country with a region that speaks a different language than the language that the country's government is built on is almost bound to secede from that country eventually.

That means that the American southwest, which has a very large Spanish speaking population, might very well decide to break off from the US, much like the Quebecois threaten to do in Canada. I think it would be kind of sad if, given all our other problems, that the crumbling of the United States started in earnest because of a lack of a central, unifying language.

Sabretooth
02-10-2011, 09:38 PM
Proliferation of a different language need not really signal the rise of nationalism. It's only important that Washington make room for a different language.

Both India and China do fine while having dozens of languages within their borders. And while I don't know about China too well, in India, you'll find different official languages for different states. The official languages of the Centre are English and Hindi, and (sensibly enough), to participate in the national parliament, one would have to be fluent in either language. Other than that, millions of people get by living without knowing either English or Hindi.

It's definitely possible to have a country with a multitude of languages within it, the question is whether the English-speakers would be willing to tolerate them or not.

mimartin
02-10-2011, 09:43 PM
the question is whether the English-speakers would be willing to tolerate them or not.Not if they get the words to the National Anthem wrong....:usa:

purifier
02-10-2011, 11:39 PM
Well we could use sign language with one another, as a universal language. That's how some of the tribes in the U.S., use to communicate with each other, once upon a time. Of which they called it the "Plains Sign Language" for intertribal communication.

As a matter of fact, we have already developed a few signs in sign language - like the middle finger sign to express our gratitude to each other. :D

Pavlos
02-11-2011, 02:46 AM
It's definitely possible to have a country with a multitude of languages within it, the question is whether the English-speakers would be willing to tolerate them or not.
I imagine that actually encountering the other of different languages would make a lot of people less scared of them. I spent a significant part of my childhood around North Wales, the idea of people speaking Welsh as a first language is something I find utterly unperplexing and unproblematic. However, as you've pointed out, there must be an official language and -- especially in a place as densely populated as, for example, the UK -- I think it's fairly important that everyone is fluent in that, both for reasons of 'national identity' and for ease of communication.

You'll have to excuse me if any of this is incoherent: I'm typing this off the back of a coffee-fuelled all-nighter.

Not if they get the words to the National Anthem wrong....:usa:
I read somewhere that Jefferson had the rather crazed idea of making Old English the official language of the United States, as given the large numbers of German speakers it seemed like a good compromise to make: English, but with stronger grammatical rules, as in German. The way things could have (absolutely not, not in a million years, no one was mad enough to do this) been.

As it was he did found the University of Virginia, which is one of the bastions of Anglo-Saxon studies, of course.

I've always found a curious feature of his rhetoric to be the appeal to the rather English myth of Anglo-Saxon liberty (I have no idea if this is something still present in the American psyche: I suppose you have the mythologising of American liberty to supply its place). The British Empire always supplying the role of the Normans to his Hengest and Horsa (who, rather appropriately, were mythical ur-colonists themselves).

Adavardes
02-11-2011, 11:21 PM
Proliferation of a different language need not really signal the rise of nationalism. It's only important that Washington make room for a different language.

When does making room become losing entire areas of the country to a different language? It's not a question of open mindedness, but striking a balance. If we don't behave with some form of tolerance, then yes, secession has a good chance of happening. However, if we open the floodgates far too much, the very relevant Spanish speaking population of the US might very well contest English as the most important language in the country. I have a problem with that, mainly because of two reasons:

1. The country's identity, the ideas it was founded on, and the constitutional bedrock that our society was built on, are all written in English. We are very much, when it comes to our heritage, an English-speaking country. If we abandon that foundation, I feel as if something would be lost to our culture. After all, according to the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, most aspects of who we are as a people are decided upon by the central language we speak. We didn't start with a multitude of languages on equal grounds, we started with one dominant language, and everything was built from that.

2. I don't think any language is in any sort of shape in this country to demand that it be an official language. The majority of our population has horrendous capability with English, Spanish, or any language, primarily because of the poor public education programs for them, poorly trained teachers who don't focus on a more articulate type of writing skill, and a fundamental lack of importance invested in them in both the popular, and, yes, academic world. It may just be because I am an English major, but if I hear one more mathematician scoff at English as easy, or a waste of time, I may just have to punch him.

Really, to strike a balance between languages, the populace needs to be able to actually speak at least one of them. But maybe that's just me being a stickler.

Anyway, to recapitulate, taking a firm stand on some aspects of English literacy in a political setting is just as important as being tolerant. I think it'd be a mistake to ignore or even underscore cases like Quebec, which has been given all the rights it has wanted in regards to its language, within reason, yet still desires secession in some form. Language barriers, regardless of political acceptance, can tear apart a nation.

Quanon
02-13-2011, 03:26 PM
Language barriers, regardless of political acceptance, can tear apart a nation.

Welcome to Belgium Politics! :nut:

Adavardes
02-15-2011, 10:25 AM
Welcome to Belgium Politics! :nut:

Yeah, I hear you have a tough time getting stuff done. I mostly know that because it was the weakness that Farage used to attack Rompuy's supposed political designs for the European "nation-states" in the EC a few months back, so I had no idea that language had something to do with it. Please, elaborate.