Press “1” for English

I never really understood why Americans get their shorts all in a bunch when others speak Spanish in the country.   Perhaps it’s just arrogance.  Or maybe it’s fear.  The United States is one of the “newer” countries in the large scheme of things.  It was built (after a bit of theft) by a multitude of nationalities, races, religions.  And allegedly, it’s one of the only countries that’s formal basis is tolerance.

I remember many years ago, my German uncle telling me a story about how there was a vote in America to select a language – German or English.  I did a little research on this recently and found a story about the vote.  Apparently my uncle’s version was a little off.  “A long long time ago, the US voted on an official language. In events packed with drama, opinions were split between English and German. It all came down to the final vote: English won – by a single vote, because one German-favoring guy was sitting on the toilet. . . On January 13, 1795, Congress considered a proposal, not to give German any official status, but merely to print the federal laws in German as well as English. During the debate, a motion to adjourn failed by one vote. The final vote rejecting the translation of federal laws, which took place one month later, is not recorded.”  You can read more about it at http://watzmann.net/scg/german-by-one-vote.html.

It seems to me that the language “difference” is dying on its own.  Most children in the States learn to speak English.  They are being raised in multi-cultural communities.  And those that are raised in strictly Spanish-speaking neighborhoods, still have television and Sesame Street.  Teenagers surely leave the neighborhoods to go to malls, movies, and doubtless make friends with non-Spanish speaking kids. 

The issue really comes into play with the elderly who never learned the “beloved” English language.  Do we prosecute them for this?  Do we deny them a meal in a restaurant?  Health care?  The chance to be put on hold for hours by AT&T?

Once, when I was an up-to-no-good teenager, I walked into the McDonald’s on Gay St. in West Chester, PA.  I noticed that the menu was in both Spanish and English.  This was back before anyone cared that fellow Americans were not all speaking English.  Back when we encouraged our children to learn other languages in school.  Back when Sr. Edwardine taught us to sing the names of the South American countries and Sr. Patricia Michael taught us Peruvian dances. 

Guess where this is?

At this McDonald’s, I decided to try my skills at ordering for two completely in Spanish.  I thought I did a fairly good job – although I’m not sure my Puerto Rican and Columbian friends at the time would have agreed.  When I was finished, the teenager behind the counter looked at me completely befuddled and told me she didn’t speak Spanish.  Now, it was right up on the board behind her, and she could have read it at easily as I did.  When I look back on this incident, it occurs to me that we have done a complete turnaround in let’s say, oh, just a couple of decades.  Maybe a few.  Then, it was the server who felt like she failed me.  If I tried this now, well, we all know what would happen.  It would be  Geno’s all over again.  You can read more on Geno’s here, http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,198757,00.html.  Now, I’ve seen The Soprano’s and I’m not meaning to offend Italian Americans, but Fuhgetaboutit, that’s not ‘xactly English youse guys is speakin’, capiche?

Geno's Cheesesteaks, Philadelphia, PA

I’ve seen Americans take their love for their  language even farther — to foreign lands.  While studying one summer in Austria, I had the opportunity to go on a day trip to Munich Germany with some newly made American acquaintances.  One young woman was from Texas.  We stopped a roadside stand where the Texan wanted to purchase a tourst item – a patch for her sweatshirt.  She didn’t speak German, and the patch was located on the side of the stand, where the salesman couldn’t see it.  To make matters worse, the stand was very busy, so he didn’t have time to step outside to see what my Texan friend wanted.  As I see it, she had a couple of options, she could have patiently waited. Or she could have come and asked me to assist her since I spoke a little German.   I also noticed later that those patches were numbered and she could have just held up a few fingers to indicate what she wanted.  But my Texan friend had a way of thinking all her own.  What she chose to do was stomp away angrily without her patch and exclaim, “That salesman didn’t speak a lick of English!”

Awl hava Bare yont wun?

English, whether right or wrong, has becoming the International language.  After 8 months in Turkey, I have yet to find myself in a situation that I couldn’t handle, because there is always a Turk around that speaks a little English.  English is everywhere, T-shirts, signs, websites.  Websites – this is really pretty amazing to me.  I can shop on Sahibinden.com, Turkey’s version of Craigslist, in Turkish or English.  I can shop for furniture, order food, and research schools, all in English.  My husband teaches at a local university, all in English.  I can watch Desperate Housewives – in English with Turkish subtitles.  I just can’t imagine what would happen in Turkey if they decided to outlaw English speaking!

A Turkish daily newspaper written in English

The fact of the matter is that we are all on borrowed land and borrowed time.  We waste our lives quibbling about things that just aren’t important.  Is it so hard to simply press “1” for English?

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12 thoughts on “Press “1” for English

  1. Hey T,

    For those interested, Gino (himself) has reopened the first of many new “Gino’s” in the making in King of Prussia, PA USA. Gino speaking for himself indicated, “with the turn out here today($17,000.00 first day)I can see the possibility (greater)of “Gino’s” coming back with a fury”. Now this would in itself bring back many fond memories of days gone by for a substantial amount of people, including myself…8-)

    Keep it coming cause we in Sharon Hill love it!

    Artie

  2. “it’s one of the only countries that’s formal basis is tolerance.”

    Is that the reason why they genocided 100 millions of Native Americans and enslaved millions of Africans and are now genociding muslims? It`s ridiculous that you come to Turkey and try to spread this piece of nazist-christian propaganda of your country.

    I`m wondering one thing. You live in Turkey, you wear your christian clothes, don`t speak Turkish, hence refuse to integrate into this country. Has anyone called you here a “christianofascist”? Or is calling people such names unique to the countries whose “formal basis is tolernce”?

    • EKO – apparently you don’t read English well enough to know sarcasm when you see it. Yes, the US’ formal basis is tolerance. Do they practice it? No. That was the entire point of my whole article.

      I don’t know what you mean by “Christian clothes”? I have never heard of such a thing. I would love to buy my clothes here in Turkey, but I still haven’t found anything big enough for a tall girl here. I’m about 30cm taller or more than most of the Turkish women I know. And if you read some of my other posts, you would know that I likened “born-again Christian” clothing to that of muslims – with long skirts and dresses. In that same article, I likened the scarf to the Christian veils worn to Church and to weddings, not to mention what Christian nuns wear. If you want me to cover my arms and head, well that’s just nuts. I’m not muslim. And half of your country follows Ataturk’s western dress!

      As for the language, well, I’ve been trying. I own 2 different computer programs to learn Turkish, I took a class at Haceteppe, I watch Turkish television programming, and a friend who owns a local pastane is trying to teach me too.

      Christianofascist? Well, that’s a new term for me. Yes, Americans stole land from the native Americans. My last paragraph says we are on borrowed land. Africans? Well, I’m half-black, so there! Genociding muslims? Turks are usually more careful about throwing the term “genocide” around so freely. So I’m assuming you are not a Turk either. Nice try at the name-calling. But in my country we say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me!”

      Thanks for the comment. Perhaps you may want to read a little more of my blog, and really, try reading some news from many countries – not just your own whatever that might be. You really have a slanted view.

      • One more note to Eko aka Eren. Seems you live in Worcester Massachussetts? How do you like it there? Seems I’m doing more for Turkey by the volunteer work I do here, than you are. Hmmmm. Hate Americans. Hate Christians. No tolerance. Live in the States. Hmmmmm.

  3. So you refuse covering your arms and head because you are not a muslim? Does that mean the non-muslim in christian countries don`t have to wear like christians because they are not christians? It is illegal in France not to wear christian clothes for muslim women. If a woman wears head scarf in America she is called islamofascist and seen as a terrorist. Is this your so called tolerance?

    There is no sarcasm involved in arguing that America is “one of the only countries that’s formal basis is tolerance” which basically means America is based on tolerance and the others are not which is a very powerful tool used by the christian governments and media to demonize anything that is non-christian.

    You apparently don`t understand what you read as you fail to see that I`m merely pointing out the christian hypocrisy here rather than asking you to cover your head. Don`t worry, no one in Turkey will hate you because you don`t integrate into the country. I can`t say the same thing for the uber-tolerant America.

    fyi. I`m not changing names on purpose. I enter whatever name comes to my mind when I post something online. None of them are my real names, and I don`t live in Massachusetts but Connecticut although i have no idea how this is relevant. You didn`t need to look up my ip, I would have told that if you had asked me.

    • First, I want to thank you for reading my blog. I hope that you will continue to read more of them and learn a little something about Christianity, Islam, and other religions. Perhaps you will find peace and moderation.

      Second, I point out that you chose to highlight a portion of a sentence about tolerance. What I wrote was, “And allegedly, it’s one of the only countries that’s formal basis is tolerance.” The definition of “allegedly” is “represented as existing or as being as described but not so proved.” So you have chosen your battle poorly. You are, frankly, preaching to the choir.

      I have said and written time and time again that I believe Christianity, Islam, and Judaism are very similar religions. See, for example, my blog posts entitled . . . about Religion and GAZA: Turkey, Israel, and the U.S. My dream is, and always has been, that all nations, religions, and races, learn to truly love one another. We believe in the same God. All three religions started in the same geographical regions. Islam and Christianity are so close that they even have the same saints. The major difference is that Islam considers Jesus one of their greatest prophets and Christians believe he is part of the trinity of God. I have made it my goal in life to bring the people who practice these religions closer to each other.

      All Americans are not the same. All Turks are not the same. All Christians are not the same. All Muslims are not the same. I am very lucky. I have been born into two races, black and white. I was also born of both American and European parents. I married into an Euroasian Muslim family. Life is very good for me because it is a big beautiful and colorful rainbow. Tolerance is a way of life for me.

      Back to the way I dress. When I first came to Turkey, I threw away all of my mini-skirts and shorts, so that I would not offend anyone. Since then, I have time and time again seen many Turkish women wearing mini-skirts (with 4-inch high heels!) I have seen many men walking through town in shorts. I dress like a Turk, who follows the laws of the country and that of their founding father. I do not criticize those in my family or others who choose to cover their head and wear long dresses. In fact, I embrace them and I learn from them. In exchange, they don’t tell me how to dress. They love me and embrace me as their own.

      This is the last of your comments to which I will respond. This is not the place for such anger and hatred. My blog is a place for peace and love. So comment away! And I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy your time in the States. I wish I had been there to show you the beauty of it, as my Turkish Muslim brethren are doing for me here. Hopefully, you will leave your anger behind as you cross the Atlantic. Selam.

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