Friday, 04 March 2011
People who bitch about other people speaking in different languages always make me chuckle, but they also irritate the shit out of me. They make me chuckle because of how ignorant and stupid they are, while they irritate the shit out of me because of how ignorant and stupid they are.
Yes, if you are one of these people, this post is mostly geared towards you. So lighten the fuck up, come down off your high horse, think about what you are saying, and learn to live and let live.
At some point, a distant relative of yours made a conscious decision (unless of course they were kidnapped, enslaved, and forced) to make a journey to a foreign land, where they had to learn a new language. I can't be positive, but I'm pretty damn certain that whoever that was couldn't recite a Shakespeare sonnet in English after a few years of sweatshop labor. It was most likely the next generation, who grew up surrounded by English speakers, that was actually fluent. The immigrant generation probably knew the basics - enough to get by - while speaking their native tongue at home and among themselves.
Of course there are some familial lineages that, no matter how far back you go, remain grounded in the North American continent. So, it would seem that these people are the ones who have any legitimate right to bitch about others learning their language. Oh wait, the English speakers, and your ancestors (white people!) killed most of these folks, while all but enslaving the rest, and seized the land to form this great nation that we live in today. But it's okay though; it was all done in the name of Democracy, freedom, and tolerance.
Waves and waves of various races, ethnic groups, and nationalities came to the land of opportunity, the land of plenty, where they knew they'd be accepted for who they were because they were coming to a land where everyone was welcomed into a great melting pot.
Well, no, that's not quite how it went down. But, what's important here is that most of us come from ancestries that were those "foreign-speaking (insert racial expletive here)" once upon a time. At some point, someone in our family was the new kid on the block. And they took away jobs from the "honest hard-working Americans." And they spoke a language other than English when in the company of their fellow emigrates.
There is one obvious exception: those of you who are of English ancestry. In which case, your ancestors - in addition to participating in genocide and the degradation of entire races of people - were also immigrants. But they came from the country that we fought a war of independence from. In other words, our country came into existence because of a desire to sever ties with your ancestor's former homeland.
All ties, that is, except the dress, funny wigs, ugly-ass teeth, and language. And a few more.
But let's reflect briefly on why it is that English is the unofficial official language here in the good ole USA.
England pretty much ruled the world once the Spanish empire began to decline. The English empire, and its navy, was so strong that they soon began to dominate the most coveted territory, the New World. Colonies supplied the motherland with raw materials that would fuel industry, and a market to which they could sell everything that the industry back home produced. And, of course, slaves from Africa provided the free labor that made it all the more profitable!
The Seven Years War (or French and Indian War, as the fighting in North America was called) secured the British control over what is now the US, minimizing the presence of their fellow colonizers and of the land's original inhabitants.
So, because of the fact that England was pretty much a dick to the whole world, and the best in the world at being a dick, for a few centuries, we inherited a good deal of their culture, which, of course, included their language.
So next time you want to get really possessive of your country, the invisible lines in the ground that some dude who lived long ago arbitrarily decided would give person x a different identity than person y, think about what you're saying.
Think about the fact that English comes from England.
Think about the fact that this land's original tenants spoke a wide variety of languages, most of which are virtually nonexistent now.
Think about the fact that the original Americans, the Native Americans (ha! see how much more sense that label is than "Indians") thought that the land owned them, not the other way around, and took from it what it gave.
Think about the fact that your ancestors had to learn to speak English when they first came here, and that it probably took them a while.
Think about the fact that other peoples' conversations in foreign languages aren't even really a concern of yours.
And the fact that they're probably talking about what a shithead you are anyway.
Think about the fact that America was founded on tolerance, diversity, freedom, and - oh yeah - that little thing called free speech (which, oddly enough, doesn't only apply to things you want to hear or that you can understand.)
Think about the fact that we don't even have an official national language.
But we do have an official national flower! (The rose).
And a national tree! (The oak, which unfortunately is much less regal than the UK's royal oak...)
And a national motto - E Pluribus Unim - which means "out of many, one."
Think about the fact that the only real traits that define American nationality are cultural; there is nothing at all biological linking Americans that doesn't also link humanity.
And think about the fact that nationalism is pretty stupid. To be proud of who you are and where you're from is one thing. But to feel more connected to, or to care more about the fate of, one person than another, just because of where you live in terms of an arbitrarily drawn, imaginary line, is actually quite nonsensical.
Is it REALLY true that "you gotta take care of your own first," or are just a dumb, ignorant, fuckhead?
Learn to think for yourself; think about what really matters, and challenge the notions and ideas that are grounded in nothing but tradition. Think about what is real and what is bullshit.
And now, to conclude this rant of mine, I leave you with a quote from one of the smartest men the world has ever seen:
"He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt. He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. This disgrace to civilization should be done away with at once. Heroism at command, senseless brutality, and all the loathsome nonsense that goes by the name of patriotism, how violently I hate all this"
Why do you think people care what languages others speak in? Do you think that fluent English speakers who don't know any other languages have a right to be upset about what comes out of others' mouths?