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AA7295
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Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:57 am

So I've been reading the furore about the Coke ads, and this is not tied to that matter, it's tied to the overall message.

I want to start this thread by saying I am not pro or anti immigration, nor am I liberal and I'm definitely not conservative. But I have always thought that the word immigration is the wrong word for what people get upset about when it comes to immigrants. I think the true word people have a problem with is "assimilation".

Now following on from that. Why is it considered, intolerant and racist to expect immigrants from foreign nations who emigrate to America, Canada, Australia.... English speaking countries to learn English? Yes it may take time to learn the language, but I think part of the commitment of moving a new country should be to learn the language of the country?

When one moves (on a permanent basis) to say Russia, China, Brazil etc, it is expected that you would learn the local language in order to interact and integrate into those societies.

Isn't it better when everyone can communicate with one another. Like when ordering a meal, dealing with an electrician, or even in emergency situation like calling 911 or liaising with a paramedic. These are situations amongst a countless number where speaking the local language will only help your situation.

Now I'm not advocating enforcing immigrants to speak English exclusively, they can speak whatever they want to speak in their private premises. But when they leave their private properties, they should be able to either speak English or be learning English in order to integrate into society better, benefitting both themselves and populace overall.

I think it's similar thoughts that has resulted in the anger around immigration, because there now isn't the incentive to speak English. People can get by without speaking English, so what you have is pockets of emigrants who don't speak English, and largely interact (job-wise and socially) with other immigrants of the same language, thereby not really "assimilating" into the country at large.

Now, please do not respond by saying that there is no official language in America, that's not a valid point. I'm talking about integrating into society and communicating with one another as a whole. Additionally, it cannot be argued that the defacto language of America is English.
 
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seb146
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:19 am

The main reason I see is that the other countries you listed have an official language. United States does not. It does make things easier in the United States when everyone speaks English.

The topic you are talking about goes much deeper, however. There are still many, many people who are pissed off when people carry on private conversations in their own native tongue. Two people sitting in a café discussing family in Farsi or talking about "the game" in Spanish or what have you. People will get so red in the face mad over that. Yes, I have seen it. What difference does it make? We are a nation of immigrants. That means not everyone spoke English when they arrived here.
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DeltaMD90
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:30 am

I think most people have a reasonable expectation for immigrants to somewhat assimilate in the culture they're moving into... including language. Most of what we saw in the other thread didn't really have much to do with immigrants to the US learning English, it was just us wondering why it's so outrageous that America the Beautiful was sang in other languages. No where did it imply these girls are coming to the US are refusing to learn English and us Americans need to learn Arabic or whatever
 
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:40 am

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
But when they leave their private properties

I think you meant to say "when they interact with people who do not speak their language". I live in the US and I am fluent in English but I will still speak with my Greek friends in Greek, even if it is outside my private property. What language I am using to communicate to other people is nobody's business. If I do not speak the local language as I should, this only creates a disadvantage for me in my everyday dealings.

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Now, please do not respond by saying that there is no official language in America, that's not a valid point

Why is it not? If you live in a country where all paperwork related to government can be obtained in most major languages, where there are TV stations, radio stations and newspapers in foreign languages and where some people only interact with their own ethnic/linguistic group, what is the incentive to learn English? It is very similar to countries with multiple official languages. In order to be a citizen you do not need to know all official languages. I personally know quite several Canadians from QC who don't really speak English. There are a lot of Swiss who may not speak French or German, and I am not talking about recent immigrants but people who have lived there for generations.

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Additionally, it cannot be argued that the defacto language of America is English.

It can very well be argued. The US is a big and diverse country. You will find many places, even whole cities, where the majority's first language is not English.

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
These are situations amongst a countless number where speaking the local language will only help your situation.

You will also find man places where English is very far from the local language, whether that is Spanish (was there before English arrived) or a native language of the land.
 
YokoTsuno
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:43 am

Your choice of language (English) is a bit unfortunate. English has a special role, as it is the only language on this planet which is 'universal' or at least accepted by a majority to have that status. Mandarin with close to one billion speakers, far more than English, does not have that status and it is debatable if it ever gets there. This universal status has a certain side effect in the sense that even people who use English as a 2nd or 3rd language expect their counterpart to speak English when visiting a country where English is not the medium of communication.

As for your question, the reason is not racism IMO but a combination of egocentrism and practicality. Some countries have considerable immigration figures (especially the English-speaking ones because of the above reason) and there is always a risk of creating linguistic fault lines in the sense that the locals have to adapt to the immigrants. You can call this racism but nobody likes to be alienated with the place he/she grew up in or forced to learn another language.

In Singapore where English is the lingua franca this risk is small I think because the limited living space and diversity of immigrants forces one to speak English, albeit broken. My immediate working environment consists of 15 different nationalities, which makes it difficult for any other language to become dominant. There nevertheless has been considerable irritation of customers not be able to communicate with waiters in restaurants or bus drivers.

In some larger countries where different languages can form clusters, like in India, Canada or Belgium, these linguistic fault lines are a reality. Ironically mostly through ‘internal’ immigration. Not entirely unthinkable that such could happen between Spanish and English in the US.
 
rfields5421
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:33 am

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Why is it considered, intolerant and racist to expect immigrants from foreign nations who emigrate to America, Canada, Australia.... English speaking countries to learn English?

It is not considered intolerant or racist to expect immigrants to attempt to learn some of the language - if they choose to do so.

It is intolerant to expect different behavior from Hispanic, Asian, Arab and African immigrants than was expected from German, Polish, Italian - i.e. Caucasian - immigrants.

No one expected the first generation immigrants to learn English beyond a small amount necessary for a worker to get by. Stores catered to immigrants with signs and employees fluent in the immigrants languages.

Suddenly today, that is forgotten and the battle cry "Speak English" is considered patriotic. Personally I consider it idiotic.


From some reason, a certain segment of our nation now considers the very tolerance given to their own grandparents, great grandparents - is unacceptable.


Some of the posts on the other thread dripped of hatred that 'those people' might want to honor the America which welcomed them in their own language.

There is also a big effort expended today to force immigrants to 'assimilate' into the 'American culture'.


Personally I don't think that concept goes well to the large Czech heritage populations across the area south of Dallas, or the heavily German heritage population in the Texas hill county. People all across this nation celebrate their original roots almost everyday somewhere in this great nation. Like many people in this country, my own personal heritage it lost somewhere in the mix of marriages and generations leading back to before the Civil War. Our family really doesn't know where our ancestors immigrated from - but it was presumably western Europe.


My neighbor across the street might say we Caucasians are the ones not assimilating - since the grandmother will be quick to tell you her family was in Texas long before Sam Houston was born, and fought and died for Texas independence.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:41 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 6):
It is intolerant to expect different behavior from Hispanic, Asian, Arab and African immigrants than was expected from German, Polish, Italian - i.e. Caucasian - immigrants.

Please elaborate; I'm curious to know how you've arrived at the conclusion that it's intolerant to expect a reasonable attempt at assimilation into an adopted society by any immigrant, regardless of background.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:46 am

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Now I'm not advocating enforcing immigrants to speak English exclusively, they can speak whatever they want to speak in their private premises. But when they leave their private properties, they should be able to either speak English or be learning English in order to integrate into society better, benefitting both themselves and populace overall.

It really comes down to fundamental freedom. The great thing about free societies is one can conduct themselves however they choose, so long as they are a law-abiding citizen.

It is naturally more practical and sensible to become a functional English speaker. It will increase opportunities and enhance understanding of the political and cultural life around oneself. It is not, however, essential for everyday life and communication in the circumstances of many people - and that is probably why it has never been required. It would be quite costly and impractical to ensure by force of law that such people are in compliance.

I understood when coming to Japan that my life would be much easier if I learned to speak Japanese, and I'm thankful I did. Some who come here choose not to, and live their lives in a very insulated expat environment. On the other hand, I have not been willing thus far to make the time investment to become a competent reader - as studying thousands of Chinese characters by rote takes more time and dedication than I can currently commit to.
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rfields5421
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:57 am

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 7):
I'm curious to know how you've arrived at the conclusion that it's intolerant to expect a reasonable attempt at assimilation into an adopted society by any immigrant, regardless of background.

It isn't.

But expecting first generation non-worker family members to speak English has never been considered a requirement of assimilation, until recently.

Unfortunately, that is not acceptable to the "Speak English" crowd.

The requirement is focused on people of darker skin color, on people of different religious backgrounds.

You don't hear a cry that the Germans in south Texas have to stop speaking German (after 10 or more generations - many still do), you don't hear complaints about the Norwegian's in Minnesota.

We hear complaints about Hindu's dressing in traditional attire for religious holidays as 'not assimilating'; but no complaints about people celebrating their Scottish heritage in kilts (other than comments about hairy legs).

We hear complaints about Arabs who work very hard to speak English in convenience stores because their English isn't completely fluent, is hard to understand.

Unfortunately in the United States today the idea of 'reasonable' has been twisted to mean completely, totally and to meet my stringent standards by many people.
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mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:02 am

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 7):
Please elaborate; I'm curious to know how you've arrived at the conclusion that it's intolerant to expect a reasonable attempt at assimilation into an adopted society by any immigrant, regardless of background.

Beacuse corporations speak spanish. Walmart has spanish signs, McDonalds had spanish menus, American Airlines have spanish safety instructions.

Why assimilate?

If i were you i would start demaning "american" companies to stop speaking spanish
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mham001
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:07 am

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 6):
No one expected the first generation immigrants to learn English beyond a small amount necessary for a worker to get by.
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
But expecting first generation non-worker family members to speak English has never been considered a requirement of assimilation, until recently.

Absolute, unmitigated nonsense that only makes sense when you completely overlook the massive catastrophe that is "bilingual education". Something that never existed for the offspring of those earlier immigrants. The English crowd is simply pushing back at that nonsense. But just to give you a chance, where do you see this "big push" for first generation English?
 
luckyone
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:11 am

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Now following on from that. Why is it considered, intolerant and racist to expect immigrants from foreign nations who emigrate to America, Canada, Australia.... English speaking countries to learn English? Yes it may take time to learn the language, but I think part of the commitment of moving a new country should be to learn the language of the country?

I don't consider it racist. I consider the people who bang on about xenophobic and at times incredibly ignorant, and am not at all surprised that the vast majority of them are monolingual people who've never tried to learn another language. Outside of ethnic neighborhoods it typically is appreciated...though not expected when a mother tongue is spoken (Miami is an exception to that rule, because important Cubans have a lot of money and attitude to match). Most immigrants do learn over time. But if any of the people who moan about people's English language skills had to up and relocate they might find that learning a language is quite difficult.

Quoting seb146 (Reply 1):
The main reason I see is that the other countries you listed have an official language. United States does not. It does make things easier in the United States when everyone speaks English.

Nor will it, most likely. There have always been sizeable numbers in this country who did not count English as their mother tongue, which is why it never got official language status to begin with. The problem is not new.

Quoting mt99 (Reply 10):
Walmart has spanish signs, McDonalds had spanish menus

Both very low end on the pricing end of things...it would make sense that they would benefit from providing a service to immigrants who typically don't have a lot of money. In business you don't exclude somebody based on principle.

Quoting mt99 (Reply 10):
American Airlines have spanish safety instructions.

They also do a massive amount of business in Spanish-speaking countries. Bad example.

[Edited 2014-02-04 20:20:29]
 
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:16 am

Quoting lewis (Reply 3):
It is very similar to countries with multiple official languages. In order to be a citizen you do not need to know all official languages. I personally know quite several Canadians from QC who don't really speak English. There are a lot of Swiss who may not speak French or German,

In Switzerland children are required to learn one of the other two languages in the country. A Swiss-Italian must learn either French or German for example. This guarantees that if he ever meets a Swiss-French or Swiss-German, they know at least one language in common.

But if he moves to the Swiss German part, he will have to file his taxes in German, and conduct any other official business in German. And that is as it should be.

In the US, I have no issue with people speaking other languages among themselves, even if they are 10th generation Americans. But I do object to immigrants coming here and demanding that their children be primarily educated in a language other than English at taxpayer expense. That indicates that they have little intention to integrate. If they one day intend to go back to their home and want their kids educated in their own language in the meantime, they can pay for private schools, like is done in every other country in the world, as far as I know.
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mham001
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:18 am

Quoting luckyone (Reply 12):
There have always been sizeable majorities in this country who did not count English as their mother tongue,

When was this?
 
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:20 am

[quote=Dreadnought,reply=13]In the US, I have no issue with people speaking other languages among themselves, even if they are 10th generation Americans. But I do object to immigrants coming here and demanding that their children be primarily educated in a language other than English at taxpayer expense. That indicates that they have little intention to integrate. If they one day intend to go back to their home and want their kids educated in their own language in the meantime, they can pay for private schools, like is done in every other country in the world, as far as I know.


On that point, we do agree.   
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luckyone
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:21 am

Quoting mham001 (Reply 14):
When was this?

Sorry I was thinking about two posts while writing one. I have corrected it to say "numbers." Which is indeed the case.
 
mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:24 am

Quoting luckyone (Reply 12):
Both very low end on the pricing end of things...it would make sense that they would benefit from providing a service to immigrants who typically don't have a lot of money. In business you don't exclude somebody based on principle.

Money trumps principle then. That cool, so who cares what language it is spoken as long as you can make money from it. Whats more American than that! That should shut up critics.

To think otherwise would be comunist

Quoting luckyone (Reply 12):
They also do a massive amount of business in Spanish-speaking countries. Bad example.

So why do they have it in domestic flights?
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:33 am

Quoting mt99 (Reply 17):
So why do they have it in domestic flights?

Connections? Avoiding having to print more than one set of safety instructions per aircraft?
 
mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:40 am

Quoting luckyone (Reply 18):
Connections? Avoiding having to print more than one set of safety instructions per aircraft?

The japanese dont connect? Nor the French?
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luckyone
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:53 am

Quoting mt99 (Reply 19):
The japanese dont connect? Nor the French?

Neither are as important a market to any airline percentage wise as Latin America is to AA.
 
mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:57 am

Quoting luckyone (Reply 20):
Neither are as important a market to any airline percentage wise as Latin America is to AA.

How exactly do having spanish safety instruction translate to sales?
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luckyone
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:00 am

Quoting mt99 (Reply 21):
How exactly do having spanish safety instruction translate to sales?

Probably the same way Spanish language direction signs in WalMart could potentially boost sales. A business is seen as providing (or caring?) about a large and important-to-its-bottom-line customer base.
 
mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:10 am

Quoting luckyone (Reply 22):
Probably the same way Spanish language direction signs in WalMart could potentially boost sales. A business is seen as providing (or caring?) about a large and important-to-its-bottom-line customer base.

Nope. AA having a Spanish Language Website is equivalent to Walmart having spanish signs and McDonalds having Spanish menus.

Find me 1 person, that would pay $1 more to fly American because they have Spanish Safety instructions on a domestic flight.

Corporate America is guilty of immigrants not integrating. Outrage should be directed at them, just as much as to the people who sing America the Beautiful in different languages.

But to some people round here - it is easier to hate on immigrants, than hate on Wal-Mart.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:41 am

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 13):
I do object to immigrants coming here and demanding that their children be primarily educated in a language other than English at taxpayer expense

Nope. Do some research. Public schools have ESL, or, English As A Second Language classes for immigrants. Unfortunately, that is one of the first classes to be cut thanks to "I don't wanna pay no damn taxes" right wingers.

Another thing I object to are these people who claim they speak English but can not for a simple and coherent sentence. How can anyone claim to speak English when they can't even say "May I please have a Big Mac" correctly? I guess the alternate would be classified as the "American language."
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 5:52 am

Quoting mt99 (Reply 23):

Corporate America is guilty of immigrants not integrating

I actually seem to recall the beginnings of this with the federal, state, and local governments. Election ballots were printed in Spanish to start, then other languages. Then it expanded to other government forms, etc.

Large-scale multi-lingual store signage, product packaging and the like came later.

[Edited 2014-02-04 21:54:14]
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Comments made here are my own and are not intended to represent the official position of Alaska Air Group
 
PhilBy
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 6:37 am

Quoting mham001 (Reply 14):
There have always been sizeable majorities in this country who did not count English as their mother tongue,

When was this?

Before the English invaded.

Quoting luckyone (Reply 12):
But if any of the people who moan about people's English language skills had to up and relocate they might find that learning a language is quite difficult.

I have known native english speakers come to France and after several years decide that they don't have the aptitude to pick up the language as they would like while their children in French schools have become bilingual. What annoys me are those who come to live here with no intention of learning the local language because everyone speaks english. I wouldn't classify it as racist though, just incredibly rude.

For those who object to tourists asking the natives to speak English I think it only fair to point out the european problem. If I wanted to take a tour I dont believe that I would be successful in learning enough Spanish, German, Italian, Greek etc to get by in each country. It was bad enough trying to learn scouse, mancunian, nova castrian and glaswegian
 
PanHAM
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:36 am

the widest spoken language in the world is bad English. Few countries still resist, even in Paris nowadays one can oder a Metro ticket and gets a reply in very bad English and most other cities in France do not have subways.

 

I laughed when I read the Headline. How can it be racist when the lingua franca should be spoken, at least with a rudimentary knowledge to get around. At least when you decide to settle in that Country. I could kick some Germans who "immigrated" to Spain, preferrably Mallorca, thnking they can get along without a word of Spanish. I would even learn Mallorquin as a permanent resident there.

OTH, I turn (as I just learned) a racist when an airline security guy at Frankfurt airport checking my passport at the gate asks me questions in English. he gets polite answers in German.

[Edited 2014-02-05 00:41:25]
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:46 am

Quoting PanHAM (Reply 27):
I could kick some Germans who "immigrated" to Spain, preferrably Mallorca, thnking they can get along without a word of Spanish.

That's not exclusive of the Germans. The British in the Alicante region can be every bit as stubborn in refusing to learn the local language so that they set up their own network of British-owned businesses that cater almost exclusively to them.

Russians are getting there, too.

OTOH, Scandinavians, Belgians, Dutch, etc. tend to integrate much better, though size of the community surely plays a part.
 
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 9:05 am

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 13):
But I do object to immigrants coming here and demanding that their children be primarily educated in a language other than English at taxpayer expense

Add Spanish and I'll agree. Many seem to (conveniently) forget the fact that large swaths of this country are historically and primarily Spanish speaking. You don't have to look hard to find towns in Texas where the "official" language is Spanish, in as much as city business is conducted in that language with English translation for the visiting "gringos."

That said, I seem to remember California has a three-year/grade limit on being taught in a foreign language. Am I wrong? I would think that is perfectly appropriate. Give children three years to learn English (or Spanish) and then throw them in the general classes.

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 25):
Large-scale multi-lingual store signage, product packaging and the like came later.

NAFTA had something to do with it as well. Costs come down if a product's packaging is bilingual so as to be sold on both sides of the border. It isn't only Spanish, even in Texas I occasionally find products packaged to be sold in the US and Canada, including Quebec...
 
PanHAM
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 11:13 am

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 29):
NAFTA had something to do with it as well. Costs come down if a product's packaging

There's nothing wrong about that. In the EU packaging is Multi Lingual and some People see the benefit that it makes it easy to pick up another language.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:34 pm

Quoting seb146 (Reply 1):
United States does not.

And, it's easy to fix that problem. Make English the official language of the US.

Quoting seb146 (Reply 1):
There are still many, many people who are pissed off when people carry on private conversations in their own native tongue.

I never saw that. I spoke Greek in public with my family and friends. Never saw anyone get upset about that. When my dad or family visits, we still speak Greek in public.

Quoting DeltaMD90 (Reply 2):
I think most people have a reasonable expectation for immigrants to somewhat assimilate in the culture they're moving into... including language.

Absolutely.

Quoting lewis (Reply 3):
If you live in a country where all paperwork related to government can be obtained in most major languages, where there are TV stations, radio stations and newspapers in foreign languages and where some people only interact with their own ethnic/linguistic group, what is the incentive to learn English?

Exactly. When you provide a crutch, it will be used. That crutch needs to be removed in order to incentivise immigrants to learn English.

Quoting lewis (Reply 3):
You will also find man places where English is very far from the local language, whether that is Spanish (was there before English arrived) or a native language of the land.

Again, that's a problem because we fail to 'force' immigrants to learn English.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 6):
No one expected the first generation immigrants to learn English beyond a small amount necessary for a worker to get by. Stores catered to immigrants with signs and employees fluent in the immigrants languages.

Bull. My parents (and I) are first generation immigrants. We came over in 1968. You can bet your bippy my parents were required to learn English in order to suceed.

While, we didn't live there, we spent a considerable amount of time in Astoria, Queens (which had one of the largest populations of Greeks outside of Greece) and I can assure you, even though business between Greeks was usually conducted in Greek, everyone had a working knowledge of English.

Quoting mt99 (Reply 10):
If i were you i would start demaning "american" companies to stop speaking spanish

That is a business decision those companies make based on the politcal and cultural reality that the US government does not have the political will to make English the official language.

Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 13):
. But I do object to immigrants coming here and demanding that their children be primarily educated in a language other than English at taxpayer expense.

Agreed.

Quoting blueflyer (Reply 29):
Add Spanish and I'll agree. Many seem to (conveniently) forget the fact that large swaths of this country are historically and primarily Spanish speaking. You don't have to look hard to find towns in Texas where the "official" language is Spanish, in as much as city business is conducted in that language with English translation for the visiting "gringos."

Really doesn't matter. Those areas are within the borders of the US and those populations should learn English and treat the language as their native language.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:44 pm

Quoting JJJ (Reply 28):
The British in the Alicante region can be every bit as stubborn in refusing to learn the local language

The attitude of most Brits abroad is embarrasing. Shouting loudly and slowly at a local seems to be the only way of communicating.   

I'm reminded of being in a restaurant in Iceland when we were on holiday. To our left was a table of French and to our right a table of Germans. All conversation between the tables and between each table and the serving staff was all in English.

In a restaurant in Bruges, a similar situation but with the added twist of a table of Japanese resulted in the waiter speaking English, German, French and some Japnese (and all to the correct tables!)

To the subject in hand. My instinct is to say that if I were to live abroad for an extended period of time, I would be very disappointed to not become reasonably fluent in the local language.
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CXfirst
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 12:53 pm

I do find the "speak English" (or more commonly "speak American") crowd a bit hypocritical. I've met Americans (and other nationalities for that matter), who have moved permanently to foreign speaking nations, who have not given one ounce of effort to learn the foreign language, as they expect the citizens of that country to be able to speak English, as English seems to be the designated universal language. Now, for the most part, they do not get any real resistance from the citizens there, like they give immigrants in the US, and so do not give a second thought to the hypocrisy.

I for one, do believe that if one moves to a foreign nation, one should give an effort to learn the foreign language, even if it is just a temporary move (don't expect fluency, but an effort to learn is expected). But this applies everywhere. But at the same time, citizens should know that it isn't always that easy. Especially if you are not working and socialize with people who speak your mother tongue, and don't interact all that much with the local language.

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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:12 pm

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
aa7295 From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 610 posts, RR: 0
Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
But when they leave their private properties, they should be able to either speak English or be learning English in order to integrate into society better, benefitting both themselves and populace overall.

I totally agree with you on that one, but some of the immigrants (at least here in the US), don't seem to understand that, or even agree with it.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:15 pm

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 31):
Those areas are within the borders of the US and those populations should learn English and treat the language as their native language.

Why? They were Spanish speaking before the US, and have remained Spanish-speaking throughout.

Tejanos fought for their independence every bit as hard as their anglo comrades, and their culture should not be subordinate to anyone's

Don't worry about a Mexican Sam Houston who will colonize, then claim those territories back to Mexico, this is not the XIX century anymore.
 
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:19 pm

Quoting CXfirst (Reply 33):
I do find the "speak English" (or more commonly "speak American") crowd a bit hypocritical. I've met Americans (and other nationalities for that matter), who have moved permanently to foreign speaking nations, who have not given one ounce of effort to learn the foreign language, as they expect the citizens of that country to be able to speak English, as English seems to be the designated universal language. Now, for the most part, they do not get any real resistance from the citizens there, like they give immigrants in the US, and so do not give a second thought to the hypocrisy.

I won't defend them, but can it be a learned response because of what they see at home? I mean, they're used to immigrants not knowing the English language in the US, maybe, at some sub-concious level, they feel 'what's good for the goose is good for the gander'.

And, as you've stated, English is a language that is (or at least was) taught in elementary schools in Europe. So, does that fact provide some disincentive to learn the local language?

Same problem we have here, to some extent, isn't it?

When I spent my summers in Greece, I could converse in English with my cousins as well as they could converse with me in Greek. My parents got wrapped around the axle when we spoke English because they wanted us to hone our Greek, while my cousins' parents wanted us to speak English to our cousins in order to improve their English. Made for interesting conversations at the dinner table.
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AyostoLeon
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 1:27 pm

I am not trying to be funny, but how does making English the official language square with the Constitutional right to freedom of speech in the USB? As far as I am aware, in that protection there is no limitation as to language.

I am all in favour of immigrants being encouraged and helped to learn the predominant language of a country that they move to. Yet I don't believe that people should be punished or have obstacles deliberately placed in their way if they fail to achieve a "suitable standard". It is more important that they seek to support themselves and contribute to society. As they do that it becomes increasingly likely that they will improve their ability to communicate in the language most widely spoken, simply through necessity. Coercion should not be necessary.
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CXB77L
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:15 pm

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Now following on from that. Why is it considered, intolerant and racist to expect immigrants from foreign nations who emigrate to America, Canada, Australia.... English speaking countries to learn English? Yes it may take time to learn the language, but I think part of the commitment of moving a new country should be to learn the language of the country?

I couldn't agree more. I'm a migrant myself, having come to Australia in 1990 from Hong Kong, and I've made it my goal to become fluent in English. I spoke little to no English when I arrived, but now, I have become reasonably fluent in it - even though my English skills are still far from perfect. That's part of the "deal", as it were, of immigrating to another country: learning, and adapting, to the local culture.

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
I think it's similar thoughts that has resulted in the anger around immigration, because there now isn't the incentive to speak English.

There should be. As far as I'm concerned, English language competency should be achieved before Australian citizenship is granted. That person doesn't have to be as fluent as a native speaker, but should be able to communicate effectively. Having learnt English from scratch, I know how hard it is to learn a language, but it is not impossible. What it takes is practice, practice and more practice.

When I was learning, I spoke English almost exclusively - at home, and at school. In some ways, I regret losing my native Cantonese (I can still speak it, but these days, I'm much more fluent in English than I am in Cantonese, and I can no longer read or write in Chinese), but the way I see it, it was a sacrifice I had to make in order to improve my English skills.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 6):
No one expected the first generation immigrants to learn English beyond a small amount necessary for a worker to get by.

And maybe that's a right way to go about it. As long as the person can "get by", as it were, and communicate effectively in most situations (e.g. going to the grocery store, taking a bus and generally function in society), there is little need for an immigrant to expand their language skills. But I would say it is highly beneficial, especially for their employment prospects in anything other than blue collar jobs.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
The requirement is focused on people of darker skin color, on people of different religious backgrounds.

It should be imposed on all immigrants equally.

Quoting CXfirst (Reply 33):
I do find the "speak English" (or more commonly "speak American") crowd a bit hypocritical. I've met Americans (and other nationalities for that matter), who have moved permanently to foreign speaking nations, who have not given one ounce of effort to learn the foreign language, as they expect the citizens of that country to be able to speak English, as English seems to be the designated universal language. Now, for the most part, they do not get any real resistance from the citizens there, like they give immigrants in the US, and so do not give a second thought to the hypocrisy.

That is very true, it works the other way too.

It may be impractical for a tourist to learn the local language - especially when they are touring various different countries - but it wouldn't take much to learn the phrase "excuse me, do you speak English?" in the native language of the country they are in - at least it shows that they have gone to some effort to learn one or two words or phrases. Expecting others to speak English in a country whose main language is not English doesn't sound right to me.

I have been pleasantly surprised, at times when I have returned to Hong Kong, to hear Caucasians speaking fluent Cantonese, or even the odd "hello" in Mandarin Chinese.
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mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:16 pm

Quoting fr8mech,reply=31Exactly. When you provide a crutch, it will be used. That crutch needs to be removed in order to incentivise immigrants to learn English.][/quote]

[quote=fr8mech
(Reply 31):
Again, that's a problem because we fail to 'force' immigrants to learn English.
Quoting fr8mech (Reply 31):
That is a business decision those companies make based on the politcal and cultural reality that the US government does not have the political will to make English the official language.

Wait, you cant be suggesting that the goverment mandate that all menus should be in English only. How else would you stop these "crutches"? Govermnet intervention on private businesses? Yikes!

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 31):
1968

Ahh the past. Yes. Its past. It was great want it? Its not reality any more
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mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:25 pm

While i wholeheartedly agree that english should be requirment for immigrants.

What is next to fully integrate? Force peopel to drop their love or curry and replace it by hamburger beacuse curry is not "american"?

What is "identity" ? Does speaking english make you a better "american"? Or a convience for you when you ask the maid to leave extra towels in your hotel room?

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 31):
You can bet your bippy my parents were required to learn English in order to suceed

Define sucess.

Is there a doctor that only speaks spanish, is there a lawyer that does not understan english? Is there a CEO who doesnt know english?

If you consider "succeed" as holdin on to a minun wage job and barely making ends meet. Then you and i have very different definitions
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:46 pm

Quoting mham001 (Reply 11):
where do you see this "big push" for first generation English?

On this forum. In campaign commercials for US Congress and many state/ local offices, in the Tea Party literature, on Fox News, on talk radio, in newspapers.

The proposed requirement that people must pass an 'English Test' before being allowed to immigrate to the US.


Quoting Dreadnought (Reply 13):
demanding that their children be primarily educated in a language other than English at taxpayer expense

I think bi-lingual education is a major failure. Young elementary school children might need supplemental instruction in their non-English language - but the goal must be to have the kids in full mainstream English language classrooms in two years.

That said - I haven't seen a push by immigrants for full-time education in native languages. Though in Texas we primarily see spanish speaking young children. It might be other groups who want full-time education in other languages.

When my daughter graduated from high school in Richardson Texas 20 years ago - the kids in her senior class were from over 70 different countries, with over 75 different original languages. Yet there was no non-English classes other than recognized foreign language classes. There was a special ESL class for immigrants, but it was taught in English because there was not a dominant non-English language.

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 31):
my parents were required to learn English in order to suceed.

That's what I said - your parents chose to learn as much English as they wanted to reach their goals. They were not required to learn English at an 'acceptable' level to be judged by some government agency as many conservatives propose.

Quoting CXB77L (Reply 38):
But I would say it is highly beneficial, especially for their employment prospects in anything other than blue collar jobs.

Of course it is beneficial. It is certainly better for anyone immigrating to work hard to be a part of the new country. However, it should not be a legal requirement as so many people propose.


Another factor I see occasionally is the backlash against non-English speakers in personal confrontations. It happens somewhere I see personally about once every week or so. Most of the time, the foreigners on the receiving end of the confrontation are tourists, not immigrants.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 2:47 pm

Quoting AyostoLeon (Reply 37):
I am not trying to be funny, but how does making English the official language square with the Constitutional right to freedom of speech in the USB? As far as I am aware, in that protection there is no limitation as to language.


It squares just fine with the Constitution.

Quoting mt99 (Reply 39):
Wait, you cant be suggesting that the goverment mandate that all menus should be in English only. How else would you stop these "crutches"? Govermnet intervention on private businesses? Yikes!


Not at all. If a business wants to continue to print menus in different languages, that is their choice. It's a business decision. But, I do have a problem with the government providing forms, unrelated to immigration, in different languages.

Look at New York State's drivers' license test. It's available in 13 languages. That's unacceptable.

Quoting mt99 (Reply 40):
Define sucess


I struggled with whether to use that word or some other word. People need to be able to interact with the government and with others. In order to communicate with the government, they need to be able to speak and read and understand the language. I guess I define success, in this case, as being able to interact without accomodation.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:05 pm

Quoting mt99 (Reply 39):
Ahh the past. Yes. Its past. It was great want it? Its not reality any more

You did read what rfields5421 wrote, right?

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 6):
No one expected the first generation immigrants to learn English beyond a small amount necessary

It appears to me that he was talking about the past and how immigrants weren't expected to learn English beyond some rudimentary level.

So, yes, I was referring to the past.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:09 pm

Lets look at it from a different perspective.


When I am in Japan, I always speak as much Japanese as I can. When someone hands me an English menu, I tell them to give me a Japanese one.

It's Japan. I am in their country as a white dude. I'm not going to burden them with English.

I actually get annoyed when my fellow gaijin friends who HAVE the skills to speak Japanese (some better than me!) speak english at restaurants and stores.

I am expected to Speak Japanese in Japan, and Japanese don't have too high expectations but are the happiest people on the planet when you show effort to learning their language....



Now apply that to America....and somehow, we're all racists.
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AyostoLeon
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:10 pm

Quoting fr8mech (Reply 42):

I am not sure why having a driving test available in different languages is unacceptable. For one, it is limited to only certain classes with commercial and hazmat only being available in English. Secondly, might insisting that a person must take the test in English limit their ability to travel to work, thereby reinforcing isolation?

Whatever language the test is taken in, surely the applicant will still need to demonstrate a proficiency in driving, an ability to recognise signage and a knowledge of road laws.

If it is a question of cost, does the applicant not pay a fee in any case?
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:17 pm

Quoting EA CO AS (Reply 7):
Please elaborate; I'm curious to know how you've arrived at the conclusion that it's intolerant to expect a reasonable attempt at assimilation into an adopted society by any immigrant, regardless of background.

Yes. Back in the 1990's an area near my neighborhood had a group of illegal Mexican immigrants take-over an apartment complex. At a Neighborhood Watch meeting there was all kinds of discussion over the sudden spike in crime in that neighborhood and the inability to communicate with the newcomers. I suggested we have someone who spoke some spanish to go over and "recruit" some members of the Mexican community to join us at the next meeting.

Well, a few of them did. They indicated to us that they expected our community to allow them to change signage to spanish, to advise the City Hall and Police/Fire/Rescue to hire spanish-speaking employees! They made no indication whatsoever that they had any plan to begin to assimilate by learning some english. We thought it was pretty crazy for a group of people who had arrived in our neighborhood illegally, shoved our crime-rate through the roof (including clogging-up our police dept./ and justice system) and who did not pay any taxes other than what they had to pay to purchase goods, and expect us to jump through hoops for them.

I moved away from the area and kept up with friends (victims) who stayed there as the illegal population continued to grow and swell on into the 2000's. It became a war-zone. There was so much illegal activity the police couldn't possibly keep-up with it. Mexican businesses set-up shop and none made even the slightest effort to learn any english and the signage was all spanish. There was no effort whatsoever on the part of the Mexican community to share cultural information to help the people who were originally from that neighborhood understand the Mexican culture and the Mexicans made no effort whatsoever to assimilate and learn our culture.

Then Obama arrived. The housing boom crashed, and the country entered a recession. All those construction jobs the illegal Mexicans were doing evaporated. Slowly over the past years the illegal Mexicans have moved away (somewhere) leaving the destruction of those neighborhoods behind them. The elderly people who used to live there in harmony either died off, had to be relocated to a safer environment, or like one 90ish old man I know, turned his little house into an armed bunker and rode it out. The old neighborhood is finally turning around as young Americans are taking advantage of all the fixer-up properties and are moving in. I am sure there are lots of other neighborhoods around Atlanta that are not so lucky.

Throughout all of this I was constantly reminded of the many places in Mexico I had been over the years and I could never remember one instance where a Mexican ever went out of their way to help me understand spanish. I was always on my own.  
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mt99
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:23 pm

Quoting ImperialEagle (Reply 46):
Well, a few of them did. They indicated to us that they expected our community to allow them to change signage to spanish, to advise the City Hall and Police/Fire/Rescue to hire spanish-speaking employees! They made no indication whatsoever that they had any plan to begin to assimilate by learning some english. We thought it was pretty crazy for a group of people who had arrived in our neighborhood illegally, shoved our crime-rate through the roof (including clogging-up our police dept./ and justice system) and who did not pay any taxes other than what they had to pay to purchase goods, and expect us to jump through hoops for them.

What if the had been French? or Swedish?

Quoting ImperialEagle (Reply 46):

Then Obama arrived. The housing boom crashed,

Technically - started with Bush.
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 3:27 pm

Quoting AyostoLeon (Reply 45):
Secondly, might insisting that a person must take the test in English limit their ability to travel to work, thereby reinforcing isolation?

It might or it might force them to learn, at least, rudimentary English.

It's my opinion that when someone ha to interact with the government, they should have to do it in the language the government uses.

Here, in the US, it is, or should be, English.
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Charles79
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:01 pm

Quoting aa7295 (Thread starter):
Now, please do not respond by saying that there is no official language in America, that's not a valid point.

Actually, THAT is the argument, at least here in the United States (America is a bit more than just the USA, FYI).

My take on this: this ship has already sailed and the revolt of the "English only" crowd will not stop it. Learning English is definitely an advantage and I encourage everyone to learn English, but I don't expect to see a monolingual country anytime soon. At the very least, Spanish will become the dominant language in parts of the country, a trend that has not gone unnoticed by the government (agencies and institutions at both the Federal and State level already provide resources in Spanish to those who need it) and the private sector (nearly every major corporation in the USA offers some level of Spanish assistance to USA-based consumers).

More to the point, though, one has to wonder why some folks have such a hard time with this concept. Those who normally conduct their daily lives in English will probably still be doing so 10 years from now, so why does it matter if a few, select parts of what is a very, very large country don't? I won't believe for a second that what is so often labeled as "the wealthiest and most powerful" country in the world won't be able to cope with multilingualism, something that countless nations have had to deal with for centuries.
 
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RE: Why Is It Racist To Expect People To Speak English

Wed Feb 05, 2014 4:09 pm

Why does anybody care what language someone else speaks? That's a serious question.
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