English.

I know that it’s incredibly un-PC for me to say what I’m about to say but I don’t care, I’m going to say it anyway.

If people move to the United States, they should learn English. At least enough to get by.

I’m offended by this trend to bilingually label everything. Sears has all their department signage in both English and Spanish. Lowe’s does the same. Eckerd’s electronic signature pad devices are bilingual. Why? And why Spanish? We’re 100 miles or so from the Canadian border! If you’re going to bilingually label everything, shouldn’t it be in French? I don’t want to see a sign that says “Women’s Personal Items” in English, let allow Spanish as well.

There’s a chain grocery store here that does their announcements in English, then Spanish, then Bosnian (this area has a large Bosnian population). There’s hardly any time left for Muzak. But what about Polish? Or Italian? Or Cantonese? Or Chinese? The Chinese take-out place I go to doesn’t have a problem with me saying “Number 69 with pork fried rice instead of shrimp fried rice” in English. Sure, their menu has odd phrases like “We Delivery!” or “No Accept Check”, but at least they’re making an effort.

Yes, the United States is a great melting pot. But “back in the day”, those that migrated to our shores looking for a better life made an effort to speak our language. Sure, it’s heavily accented. Yes, they still speak their native tongue amongst one another. There’s nothing wrong with that. But when they went to the A&P or whatever, they knew enough English to understand when Mr. Whipple said “Don’t squeeze the Charmin.”

I’m not looking for conformity. I don’t expect everyone to be a happy Republican and speaking like Thurston Howell III. I don’t expect that. I just think that if you’re moving to the United States, you should make an attempt to learn the language.

Now mind you, I don’t have a problem with these phone systems that prompt foreign language speakers to select a menu entry to jump into their own language. Computer systems allow us the luxury of being able to do that, and that’s wonderful. Sure, I have to tolerate a menu fit for the United Nations simply when I want to let Verizon know how much they suck, but as long as I don’t have to hear the entire conversation bilingually, I’ll give into to that.

I think I’m getting cranky as I get older.

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