Date: Fri, 1 Sep 1995 10:22:04 -0600
From: Marianna Di Paolo m.dipaolo[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]M.CC.UTAH.EDU
Subject: Re: ADS-ANS deadline September 1 -Reply
If one says something to his or her own speech community, another (even if
only an unratified overhearer [a term I am especially fond of, by the way]),
often responds angrily.
One of my favorite anecdotes comes from an Ann Arbor friend (just to show that
such xenophobia is not limited to what the hoity-toity may think of as
backwater areas). He was out for a stroll in one of the many public green
areas of Ann Arbor. Two young women speaking Arabic (which my friend is capable
of identifying, by the way) came strolling along the path in the other
direction. A local, walking near the young women and in the same direction,
turned to them and said (in what my friend decribed as a most unpleasant tone,
probably an understatement), SPEAK ENGLISH!
While we are on this general topic, did others see in their local newspapers
the notice that a judge in Amarillo TX found a woman guilty of child abuse
because she spoke only Spanish to her pre-school age child at home? Her avowed
purpose (since she is fluent in English) is to create a bilingual child.
Bilinguals, aint no bilinguals around these parts, pardner. What did a former
president say? Millions for elitist second language teaching but not one
penny for lower-status language preservation. If we are not careful, we may
succeed in English Only and end up with the peaceful and unified culture which
Serbo-Croatian provided the former Yugoslavia.
Wow! I must have got up on the Ann Arbor side of the bed today.
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu
Since this recent court decision seems to me to be a more pertinent topic
for this list than uudecoding, I thought I would take the opportunity to
jump in. I was just interviewed by a local radio talk show host about this
incident. Although he is an avowed right-winger and is on a conservative
radio station that broadcasts throughout the region dominated by Salt Lake
City, he agreed with me that it is good to promote early childhood
bilingualism and that it is very unreasonable to call it "child abuse" as
the judge in the custody hearing did. Unfortunately, I didn't get to hear
the subsequent discussion between the host and the callers, but my guess is
that it was largely pro-bilingualism. Why? Because the LDS (Latter Day
Saints/Mormon) Church promotes second language learning and seems to be
(recently??) also promoting language maintenance. I am fairly sure that
this is connected to the missionary functions of the LDS Church. But maybe
someone out there can say more about this. In spite of the supposed
positive regard for bilingualism, I still get more xenophobic responses to
my name here than I remember getting in Texas and it would also be no
surprise to hear that Dennis' Ann Arbor incident actually happened in Salt
Lake City. And like Dennis, I may be more sensitive to the contradictory
attitudes towards bilingualism because I am an early childhood bilingual.
Anyway, I think that it's important to keep in mind that Amarillo is
probably one of the least bilingual of the Texas cities of its size because
of its social history. I think that it would have been very unlikely for a
judge south of the "language line" in Texas to decide that the mother's use
of Spanish was abusive.
Marianna Di Paolo
m.dipaolo[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]m.cc.utah.edu
University of Utah
Salt Lake City, UT 84112